Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Robert Blum’s silk merchant

The Silk Merchant, Japan; Robert Frederick Blum
The Silk Merchant, Japan; Robert Frederick Blum

Link is to Google Art Project, downloadable high-res file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

After Japan opened relations with Europe and the U.S. in the mid 19th century, many European and American artists were dramatically influenced by imported Japanese art and culture; but Blum was one of the first American artists to actually travel to Japan, spending three years there.

The information tab on the Google Art Project points out this severely horizontal aspect ratio — rare in European art, and what we might now think of as “cinematic” — was likely due to the influence of Japanese handscroll paintings.

Though painted in oil, the painting carries some of the textural character of Blum’s accomplished pastels.