Aert Van Der Neer inspires Japanese Artist: Altered Realities, Christianity, and Dutch Art

Aert Van Der Neer inspires Japanese Artist: Altered Realities, Christianity, and Dutch Art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The Dutch Golden Age of art is a true blessing because the potency remains despite the enormous distance in time. Not surprisingly, the contemporary Japanese artist Sawako Utsumi adores this reality. This fact can be seen visibly in her respective homage to Aert van der Neer and Esaias van de Velde. Therefore, her latest two art pieces in relation to van der Neer (1603-1677) really stand out because of passion, altered realities, color schemes, new induced Christian church – and a plethora of other intriguing factors.

In the latest art piece by Utsumi (highlighted above), titled Japanese Art and Semblance of Aert van der Neer, it is apparent that a changed landscape emerges. Yet, this reality is extremely gentle, despite the significance and cultural factors behind this change. After all, interactions took place between the Dutch and Japanese in distant history despite enormous constraints.


On top of this, the religious wars that pitted Catholicism and Protestantism in parts of Europe, just like the sectarian conflicts involving Sunni Takfiri Islamists and the persecuted Shia in the modern world, equally held true during the Edo period in Japan. Indeed, during the lifetime of van der Neer, the crushing of Christianity in Japan took place during the long years of the Tokugawa period (Edo period). Equally intriguing, the Edo period began in the birth year of van der Neer in 1603.

Ironically, the Dutch, just like the British supporting non-Christians against Christians throughout history, also played a part in the crushing of the Japanese Christian rebellion. After all, the Dutch gave tacit support, irrespective if limited in scale, in the crushing of the Christian peasant uprising called the Shimabara Rebellion (1637-1638). Therefore, when Christians were holding out in Hara Castle the Dutch abide by Tokugawa requests and bomb the followers of Christianity.


In this sense, Utsumi is recollecting history but this time instead of the eradication of Christianity in Japan during the Edo period, you now have a refined Christian church in the background that replaces the windmill by van der Neer. This intriguing reality is obvious to people of history but is most likely lost on people who view without such knowledge. Similarly, while Japanese Christians became martyrs for the Christian cross, the poverty they suffered was equally felt by van der Neer, despite the causes being based on enormously different factors.

Overall, just like the earlier art piece by Utsumi called Japanese Light in Remembrance of Aert van der Neer, it is clear that you have distinctive hidden factors. Therefore, the cultural, historical, religious – and independent altered landscape by Utsumi – works a treat and this equally applies to the adorable color scheme by this modern Japanese artist.



Book Review: Sawako Utsumi and her Kindred Spirit

European and Japanese Art: Buddhism, Christianity, Landscapes, Rinpa, Shintoism, Ukiyo-e, and Dutch Masters – Please click on to order the book. – Sawako Utsumi personal website – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, postcards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests.

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