The Scarlet Umbrella

The Scarlet Umbrella by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 36. Where so much of what Mempes saw around him was natural, and blended in well with its context, splashes of colour from paper lanterns, parasols and umbrellas like this one, canopying a little stall, invariably caught the artist's eye. As in other paintings here, the impact of his exposure to Japanese style can most readily be seen in the way he depicts trees. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Menpes was very intrigued by Japanese artists' use of colour and describes his encounters with artists, and what he learned from them, in detail. In particular, he was impressed by the great artist Kawanabe Kiyōsai (1831-1889), now close to the end of his life: "Here is his idea of finish: once the impression of the detail and the finish of the object is recorded you can do nothing better; so far as the painter’s impression of finish goes, so far must the rendering go, and no farther" (68-69). This is something that evidently influenced Menpes himself, and many others. — Jacqueline Banerjee

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Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 22 June 2019.

Created 22 June 2019