In 1872, French art critic Philippe Burty coined the term Japonisme to describe the study of Japanese art, history, and culture. Yet the impact of Japanese art in the West was apparant as early as the 1860s and lasted into the early twentieth century, exerting a profound influence on the formation of modern art, not only in France, but also in the rest of Europe and America.
For more than two centuries, Japan had been closed to the outside world, when in 1853 a small American fleet led by Rhode Island native Commodore Mathew C. Perry entered Tokyo Bay, prompting the Japanese government to open to the West. Until then, only a few works of Japanese art had entered Europe, imported by the Dutch who had a monopoly on trade with Japan. The treaty negotiated by Perry was swiftly followed by commercial agreemetns, and by the 1870s Japanese prints, fans, screens, ceramics and other items were widely available.
Following the opening of Japan, many western artists and critics collected and studied Japanese art, and each generation reacted differently, depending on its preconceptions and artisitic needs. Some artists used Japanese prints, costumes, and objects simply to evoke a romantic vision of a remote, exotic land. Otehrs, such as Impressionists Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas, incorporated Japanese compositional techniques as they strove to create a new way of representation. In the 1880s and 1890s Japanese ukiyo-e prints stimulated a wide range of technical experimentation with color lithography, and woodcut printing. For the advocates of Art Nouveau and reform of the decorative arts, Japanese color and played a significant role.