Edmund Walpole Brooke’s Japanese landscape with a mom and youngster
Courtesy of John Mathews, Scarborough, Maine

For the duration of the previous months of Van Gogh’s existence he received to know an Australian artist who had invested most of his lifestyle in Japan. Right until pretty a short while ago Edmund Walpole Brooke remained an enigmatic figure, but the Japanese Van Gogh professional Tsukasa Kodera has now tracked down 1 of his watercolours. It was bought in April for $45 by an American pair.

The watercolour’s lush landscape includes a woman in a kimono carrying a little one on her back again as she leaves a common Japanese home. As noted in the New York Situations, it was bought by Katherine and John Mathews of Scarborough, Maine. They acquired it at Warehouse 839, a shop operate by Kevin Keraghan in close by Saco that sells second-hand household furniture and collectables.

Keraghan obtained the painting about 15 several years in the past from an estate in Ossipee, New Hampshire—from a household that experienced moved from southern California. Brooke had two brothers in California, so this represents a possible url with the artist.


Edmund Brooke’s Japanese landscape with a mom and little one hanging in the dining area of Katherine and John Mathews’s household, Could 2021
Courtesy of John Mathews, Scarborough, Maine

Katherine purchased the watercolour, basically because she favored it, to dangle in their dining space (it has subsequently been moved). She investigated the signature and this led her to Kodera, a professor of artwork historical past at Osaka University who has been looking into Brooke.


Edmund Brooke’s signature in the framed Japanese landscape with a mother and youngster
Courtesy of John Mathews, Scarborough, Maine

Kodera believes that it is extremely possible that the watercolour is certainly by Vincent’s friend. As he explains: “It is signed ‘E.W. Brooke’ and is of a Japanese topic. But a lot more analysis is wanted to be totally certain.”

Only one other Brooke painting has been identified by Kodera: a Japanese yard scene with a lady feeding chickens. It was offered some years back by the Redfern Gallery in Laguna Seaside, California, and then disappeared into a non-public assortment. Just a compact photograph is acknowledged and the image bears close similarities with the watercolour in phrases of subject make any difference (its signature is barely seen).

So who was Brooke—and what was his link to Van Gogh? Born around Melbourne in 1865, Brooke’s English parents moved to Yokohama, near Tokyo, when he was four. His father was a journalist on an English-language newspaper in Japan.

In Edmund’s late-teens he set out to turn out to be an artist, most likely finding out underneath the Yokohama-centered English illustrator Charles Wirgman (the creator of a Japanese version of Punch). In 1885 Brooke established off for Paris to study art, inevitably becoming taught by the hugely productive painter Jean-Léon Gérôme.

In the course of the spring of 1890, when Van Gogh was living in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, Brooke (then aged 24) was there to work and the two adult men met. Vincent knowledgeable his brother Theo in early July: Brooke “has been listed here in Auvers for months, and we went out alongside one another from time to time [to paint], he was brought up in Japan, you would hardly ever feel so from his painting.” Presumably Vincent meant that Brooke’s fashion was very not like that of Japanese prints.

Vincent, a good admirer of Japanese artwork, would absolutely have quizzed Brooke about everyday living and tradition in Japan. Brooke should have been 1 of the several people today he achieved who experienced invested most of their existence in Japan. Vincent was a lot less enthusiastic about his friend’s paintings, which he described as “rather lifeless”, even though “he does observe nature”.

Aside from a few of references in the Van Gogh correspondence, the only other documentary proof of Vincent’s hyperlinks with Brooke is a enterprise card, which was found out tucked into 1 of Vincent’s sketchbooks. Brooke most likely remaining the card when he frequented Theo’s apartment in January 1891 to see Vincent’s paintings.


Business enterprise card of E. Walpole Brooke
Courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The business enterprise card contains Brooke’s handwritten note of his handle in Auvers-sur-Oise: the Resort du Cadran (its cafe survived until just a handful of years in the past). Whilst the handwriting is fairly distinctive from Brooke’s signature on the watercolour, artists’ signatures on paintings are often stylised and distinctive from their ordinary handwriting.


Resort du Cadran, Auvers-sur-Oise, postcard, close to 1910

Minor is known about Brooke’s creative profession, but he exhibited two paintings in Summertime Exhibitions at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (Notre Dame de Paris at Night time in 1890 and Miss out on *** the next year).

Brooke returned to Yokohama in the early 1890s and continued to paint for a few yrs, but later on took up perform as a proofreader for the Japan Each day Herald. Kodera has uncovered that Brooke appears to have married a Japanese girl with the surname Seki (or had a romance with her) and together they had a daughter, known as Ume.

Yokohama was absolutely destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Brooke survived, even though his dwelling must have been burnt in the ensuing fire. He then moved to Kobe, where he died in 1938.

Kodera, who discovered the artist’s grave in the city’s Municipal Foreign Cemetery, may perhaps well have been the initial human being to pay back homage at Brooke’s resting put due to the fact the year of the funeral. He placed a bouquet of sunflowers and roses on the grave.


Brooke’s grave at the Municipal International Cemetery, Kobe
Courtesy of Tsukasa Kodera

This 7 days Kodera recalled: “At the cemetery I could not aid imagining the loneliness of the man who was possibly deprived of all his possessions—possibly even will work he had been offered by Van Gogh—by the devastating earthquake.”

And as for the newly found out watercolour, it could be that the figures are Brooke’s Japanese spouse and toddler daughter. Sadly, tiny Ume would die when she was just six.


Detail of Brooke’s Japanese landscape with a mom and child
Courtesy of John Mathews, Scarborough, Maine

Martin Bailey is a foremost Van Gogh specialist and investigative reporter for The Art Newspaper. Bailey has curated Van Gogh exhibitions at the Barbican Artwork Gallery and Compton Verney/Nationwide Gallery of Scotland. He was a co-curator of Tate Britain’s The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain (27 March-11 August 2019). He has published a selection of bestselling books, including The Sunflowers Are Mine: The Story of Van Gogh’s Masterpiece (Frances Lincoln 2013, available in the British isles and US), Studio of the South: Van Gogh in Provence (Frances Lincoln 2016, accessible in the United kingdom and US) and Starry Evening: Van Gogh at the Asylum (White Lion Publishing 2018, available in the United kingdom and US). Bailey’s Residing with Vincent van Gogh: The Residences & Landscapes that Shaped the Artist (White Lion Publishing 2019, readily available in the British isles and US) provides an overview of the artist’s lifestyle. His latest publication is the reissued ebook The Illustrated Provence Letters of Van Gogh (Batsford 2021, available in the United kingdom and US).

• To contact Martin Bailey, please e-mail: [email protected] Make sure you kindly refer queries about authentication of feasible Van Goghs to the Van Gogh Museum.

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