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In the nineteenth century, Japan produced prodigiously for its new Western market. Economic initiative caused the Japanese to create consumer items exclusively for the export market. At the same time, Japan began massive consumption of Western goods, chiefly in the sectors of heavy industry and engineering. Quilted dressing gowns such as these two are for an occasion and of a style that would never have been operative in Japan. For the European customer, the motif of late-spring flowers, insects, and lotuses was evocative of the exotic origins that are mitigated by the accommodations to Western style. Like James Abbott McNeill Whistler and the French Impressionists, fashion embraced Japonisme with alacrity.

Robe, silk, cotton, Japanese

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1970.83a, b (left) and 1975.227.7a, b (right)