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“La Japonaise” by Claude Monet

"Madame Monet wearing a Kimono" by Claude Monet

“Madame Monet wearing a Kimono” by Claude Monet

“Madame Monet wearing a Kimono” by Claude Monet depicts Camille, the artist’s wife, in a splendid kimono standing in front of a wall covered in Japanese fans.

Paintings of European women in Japanese costume were popular in France in the second half of the 1800s. Monet’s wife, Camille, is wearing a blond wig in this painting to emphasize her Western identity.

Monet exhibited this work at the second group show of the Impressionist painters in 1876, where it attracted much attention.

This full-length portrait of Camille wearing a blonde wig and staring out at the viewer with an expression that period-critics saw as sexually suggestive.

This painting was motivated by commercial and publicity reasons at a time when Monet needed money. However, it was also a witty comment on the then Paris fad for all things Japanese.

“La Japonaise,” which is literally “Japanese woman,” was not Monet’s original title for this painting. He exhibited it as “Japonerie,” a recently introduced word describing Western works that imitated Japanese objects.

Monet included an elaborately embroidered kimono, sixteen paper fans, and a tatami mat as Japanese objects. The fan in Camille’s hand, however, was decorated in red, white, and blue, the colors of the French flag.

Emile Zola, the French novelist, described it as:

“prodigious in color and in strangeness.”

The lower left inscription reads “Claude Monet 1876.”


Japonisme is a French term that refers to the popularity and influence of Japanese art and design in Europe following the reopening of trade of Japan in 1858.

Japanese Ukiyo-e prints were one of the main Japanese influences on Western art.

From the 1860s, ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, became a source of inspiration for many Western artists.

Western artists were intrigued by the original use of color and composition. Ukiyo-e prints featured dramatic foreshortening and asymmetrical compositions.

An emphasis on diagonals, asymmetry, and negative space can be seen in the Western artists who were influenced by this style.

Camille Doncieux

Camille Doncieux (1847 – 1879) was the first wife of French painter Claude Monet. She was the subject of a number of paintings by Monet, as well as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet. She was the mother of two sons with Monet.

While in her teens, Doncieux began work as a model. She met Monet, seven years her senior, in 1865 and became his model posing for numerous paintings.

She became Monet’s mistress, living in poverty at the beginning of his career. Camille and Monet were married in 1870 with painter Gustave Courbet as a witness.

Camille Monet died in 1879 in Vétheuil, where Monet painted her on her deathbed.

Madame Monet wearing a kimono

  • Title:                     Madame Monet wearing a kimono
  • French:                 La Japonaise, Madame Monet en costume Japonais
  • Artist:                   Claude Monet
  • Year:                    1875
  • Medium:              Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions:         Height: 231.8 cm (91.2 in); Width: 142.3 cm (56 in)
  • Museum:              Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting “Soleil Levant” or “Impression, Sunrise,” which was exhibited in 1874.

Monet adopted a method of art in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons.

Monet is famous for his series of paintings, in which all the versions consist of the same subject.

Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where at his home, he developed a garden landscape that included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works.

Claude Monet

The Museum of Fine Arts “Kimono Wednesdays” story

A Virtual Tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Can Foreigners wear Kimono?

How to wear Kimono

How to Wear Kimono Authentically


“Did not the artists of the great age of Japanese art change names many times during their careers? I like that; they wanted to safeguard their freedom.”
– Henri Matisse


Photo Credit: 1)Claude Monet [Public domain]

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