“Good pictures”: the Japanese prints in Poirot’s study

When I see art used for the set, I tend to be curious as to where it came from. In Taken at the Flood, David Hunter and Rosalind are perusing Poirot’s new flat. Hunter wryly comments on the “good pictures” that Poirot has, referencing a couple of Japanese wood block prints. You were wondering about those prints that caught Hunter’s eye, weren’t you? Of course you were…  😉

I finally managed to track down the one on the right, anyway. It appears to be by Kunisada II: “Actors Bandô Hikosaburô V as Akogi Gennojô and Onoe Kikugorô IV as the Female Street Musician (Onnadayû) Ohaya.” This print was purchased and had been donated to an American museum by the early 20th century.

Japanese wood block prints became fashionable throughout Europe in the 19th century, and the art of Japan came to influence genres from clothing fashion to the fine arts. Van Gogh was an avid collector of Japanese prints, and the flat, vivid, outlined imagery would come to be seen in his own work and that of others of the Post-Impressionist and Expressionist movements. Poirot’s second flat was full of the fashionably continental.

And it would be a picture of actors, wouldn’t it.  🙂

I included miniature paintings of these two prints in my own 1:12-scale Poirot study.

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