West Meets East

Western paintings included in the Asian collections of the Freer|Sackler illuminate the important exchange of ideas between traditions that continues to this day. James McNeil Whistler painted women in kimonos, and the titles of his works reveal that he was rethinking ideas about painting. Heavily influenced by Eastern aesthetics, his work became more abstract at a time when realism was the accepted form in the West.

This exchange of influences can be seen in Smithsonian collections through all of the arts—visual, written, performance. Design crazes for Chinoiserie and Japonisme objects may have carried ideas and concepts to the Western public, revealing an enduring, if not always accurate, interest in Asia. 

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