Justema by Mather, ca. 1923

Margrethe Mather :: Semi-nude [Billy Justema Wearing a Kimono], ca. 1923. Center for Creative Photography. University of Arizona, Tucson
Margrethe Mather :: Semi-nude [Billy Justema wearing a Kimono]; ca. 1923. Center for Creative Photography. University of Arizona, Tucson

When Margrethe Mather (1885 or 1886-1952) met Billy Justema in 1922, she was 36 and he was 17. Through spending time with him, Mather found a way out of her grief over the unexpected suicide of her close friend Florence Deshon. Through their relationship, Justema searched for a state of mind that would allow him to define both his artistic path and his sexuality. Mather photographed him as an enigma, as he was at the time to himself, in the process creating a portfolio to rival that of Alfred Stieglitz’s images of Georgia O’Keeffe. I could point out the sure compositional structure that informs Billy Justema in a Kimono (above), the curves and angles that form a harmonious whole, all things typical of Mather’s work. [quoted from The Blue Lantern on blogspot]

Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono

George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono], 1889-1895. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono in front of a folding screen] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono voor kamerscherm], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono in front of a folding screen] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono voor kamerscherm], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono in front of a folding screen] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono voor kamerscherm], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden [full size]
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono in front of a folding screen] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono voor kamerscherm], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono], 1889-1895. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono], 1889-1895. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono], 1889-1895. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden [full size]
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in Japanese kimono] [Geesje Kwak in Japanse kimono], 1889-1895. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden [full size]
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in profile to the left] [Geesje Kwak, en-profil naar links], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
George H. Breitner :: [Geesje Kwak in profile to the left] [Geesje Kwak, en-profil naar links], 1889-1913. Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden

Geesje Kwak in a kimono, 1893

George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl (Geesje Kwak) in a kimono in Breitner's studio on Lauriergracht, Amsterdam, 1893. Gelatin silver print. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History The Hague    
used as model for George Hendrik Breitner's Meisje in kimono
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl (Geesje Kwak) in a kimono in Breitner’s studio on Lauriergracht nr. 8, Amsterdam, 1893. Gelatin silver print. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History The Hague
used as model for George Hendrik Breitner’s Meisje in kimono
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl (Geesje Kwak) in a kimono (and cat) in Breitner's studio on Lauriergracht nr. 8, Amsterdam, 1893. Gelatin silver print. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History The Hague
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl (Geesje Kwak) in a kimono (and cat) in Breitner’s studio on Lauriergracht nr. 8, Amsterdam, 1893. Gelatin silver print. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History The Hague

Geesje Kwak in Kimono, 1893-96

George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a White Kimono | Een meisje gekleed in een kimono, achterover liggend op een bank. Waarschijnlijk het model Geesje Kwak. | date: 1894. Oil on canvas. | src Rijksmuseum
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a White Kimono | Meisje in witte kimono. Een meisje gekleed in een kimono, achterover liggend op een bank. Waarschijnlijk het model Geesje Kwak. | date: 1894. Oil on canvas. | src Rijksmuseum

Inspired by Japanese prints, between 1893 and 1896 Breitner made thirteen paintings of a girl in a kimono. She assumes different poses and the kimono often has a different colour. What catches the eye here is the embroidered, white silk kimono with red-trimmed sleeves and an orange sash. The dreamy girl is sixteen-year-old Geesje Kwak, a seamstress and one of Breitner’s regular models. [quoted from Rijksmuseum]

George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, rechts gedraaid; oil on canvas, ca. 1893. | src Kunstmuseum Den Haag
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, rechts gedraaid; oil on canvas, ca. 1893. | src Kunstmuseum Den Haag

The Girl in a Kimono series was not a success with critics initially, but today they are considered the pinnacle of the Dutch expression of Japonisme in the fine arts. The Rijksmuseum celebrated the series in 2016 with an exhibition that brought together all of the Girl in a Kimono paintings: “Breitner: meisje in kimono”.

George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, liggend; oil on canvas, ca. 1896. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, liggend; oil on canvas, ca. 1896. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, links gedraaid; oil on canvas, ca. 1893. | src Beverly A. Mitchell
George Hendrik Breitner :: Girl in a red kimono (Geesje Kwak) | Meisje in rode kimono, links gedraaid; oil on canvas, ca. 1893. | src Beverly A. Mitchell

After the reopening of Japan to foreign trade in the 1850s and 1860s, European artists like Claude Monet, James McNeill Whistler and Vincent van Gogh were influenced by Japanese fine and decorative arts. One of Van Gogh’s friends and compatriots, George Hendrik Breitner, was inspired by the Japonisme trend to create a series of 13 paintings of a young girl wearing a kimono.

Breitner was born in Rotterdam in 1857. For the decade between 1876 and 1886 he studied and worked in The Hague where he explored working class areas of the city, sketching the people and places he encountered. He embraced the social realism movement and considered himself le peintre du peuple, the painter of the people. He moved to Amsterdam in 1886 where he was soon able to add photography to drawing and painting. Breitner took pictures of street life, people at work and going about their business in the city, some of the photographs reminiscent of the kind of work Jacob Riis was doing in the crowded and scary tenements of New York City at the same time.

Breitner was one of the first artists to use photos as studies for specific paintings, not just of street scenes but in the studio as well. He integrated his social realist perspective in his studio portraits, making a point of employing models from the working class. One of them was a milliner’s shopgirl named Geesje Kwak who, along with her sister Anna, posed for Breitner in around 1893-1895 when she was 16-18 years old. It was Geesje Kwak who would be immortalized as the girl in a kimono.

Japonisme had intrigued Breitner since he’d traveled to Paris in 1884. He collected Japanese woodcuts and in 1892 visited an exhibition of Japanese prints in The Hague. The show was his immediate inspiration for the kimono series. He acquired several Japanese kimonos and a pair of folding screens that he set up in his studio on the Lauriergracht canal. Geesje Kwak posed in the kimonos — one red, one white, one blue — against the backdrop of the folding screens on a bed draped in oriental rugs. She was paid for her time and there was no hanky panky going on; all strictly professional. Breitner kept meticulous records of which models posed for him when, for how long and at what rate.

Breitner’s work with Geesje Kwak ended when she emigrated to South Africa with her younger sister Niesje in 1895. Geesje died of tuberculosis in Pretoria in 1899, just shy of her 22nd birthday. quoted from The History Blog

Studio Felice Beato, 1860s-1880s

Studio of Felice Beato :: Flower Seller, ca. 1860-1880s. Albumen print – Hand Colored. Mounted on “Star Photo Leaf Album”. | src Holden Luntz Gallery
Studio of Felice Beato :: Four Ladies in a Garden, ca. 1860-1880s. Albumen print – Hand Colored. Mounted on album page. | src Holden Luntz Gallery
Studio of Felice Beato :: Girl Dancing and Two Girls Playing Shamisens, ca. 1860-1880s. Albumen print – Hand Colored. | src Holden Luntz Gallery

Costumes and Customs in Japan

Kazumasa Ogawa (1860 – 1929) :: Hair-gressing (top) · Battle-Dore and Shuttle-Cock Play (bottom). Collotype (both). From: Costumes & Customs in Japan. By K. Ogawa, Photographer, Tokyo, Japan. In Collotype & From Photographic Negatives Taken by Him. Kazumasa Ogawa (1893–1895) | src The J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

Foujita painting, 1910s-1950s

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (藤田 嗣治) painting Keiko Kishi, Cannes, May 16th, 1958. (Photo by Keystone-France). | src Getty Images
Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita painting the actress Blanche Dergan, 1927-1930. (Photo by Ullstein Bild) | src Getty Images
Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (藤田 嗣治) painting a dancer of the Folies Bergère, 1931. (Photo by Ullstein Bild) | src Getty Images
Jean Agélou (1878–1921) :: Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) in his studio, 1917. | src Robert Desnos

Stacia Napierkowska

French actress, dancer, and silent film star Stacia Napierkowska, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Bain News Service (publisher). Glass negative.
French actress, dancer, and silent film star Stacia Napierkowska, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Bain News Service (publisher). Glass negative. | src George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)
French actress, dancer, and silent film star Stacia Napierkowska lying on bed with pet dog and holding a Comœdia Illustré issue on right hand, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Bain News Service (publisher).
French actress, dancer, and silent film star Stacia Napierkowska, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Bain News Service (publisher). Glass negative. | src George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

Eastern Beauty, ca. 1933

Violet Keene Perinchief (1893-1967) :: Eastern Beauty. A portrait of a Chinese Lady, silver gelatin print mounted on exhibition board, Toronto, ca. 1933. [Original photograph signed lower left in pencil: Violet Keene] | src Bonhams
Violet Keene Perinchief (1893-1967) :: Eastern Beauty. A portrait of a Chinese Lady, silver gelatin print mounted on exhibition board, Toronto, ca. 1933. [Original photograph signed lower left in pencil: Violet Keene] | src Bonhams
This portrait has many of the classic Minna Keene (Violet Keene’s mother) attributes of her portraits taken in Cape Town around 1910, notably the floral background and position of the face looking away from the camera. [quoted from source]