Seventeen prints in Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints are so-called crépons (chirimen-e ). These prints were produced on Japanese paper in the same fashion as standard woodcuts, but subsequently pressed. The resulting crinkled texture is reminiscent of fabric.
The majority of crépons were produced in Japan for the export market. They often depict flowers or birds , or other decorative subjects that were popular in the West.
Lots of crépons must have been very brightly coloured, especially if you consider that Van Gogh’s prints have heavily faded over the years. The crépons were printed using modern Western inks that were imported in the Meiji period (1865-1905).
Vincent van Gogh was particularly drawn to these brightly-coloured prints. He pinned nearly all of his crépons to the walls of his studio, and details such as the kingfishers feature in his own work with striking regularity.
Van Gogh owned a few crépons comprising two separate prints joined together to make a single, longer print – so-called surimonos.
These long, brightly-coloured prints were extremely decorative, so it is hardly surprising that Van Gogh hung these works in a series of his studios.
Following his death in Auvers, one of these prints came into the possession of Paul Gachet jr, Doctor Gachet's son.