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Georges Bigot and Japan, 1882-1899

Satirist, Illustrator and Artist Extraordinaire

Christian Polak Hugh Cortazzi

256 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Incorporating over 250 illustrations, this is the first comprehensive study in English of French artist and caricaturist George Ferdinand Bigot (1860-1927) who, during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, was renowned in Japan but barely known in his own country. Even today, examples of his cartoons appear in Japanese school textbooks. Inspired by what he saw of Japanese culture and way of life at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878, Bigot managed to find his way to Japan in 1882 and immediately set about developing his career as an artist working in pen and ink, watercolours and oils. He also quickly exploited his talent as a highly skilled sketch artist and cartoonist. His output was prodigious and included regular commissions from The Graphic and various Japanese as well as French journals. He left Japan in 1899, never to return. The volume includes a full introduction of the life, work and artistry of Bigot by Christian Polak, together with an essay by Hugh Cortazzi on Charles Wirgman, publisher of Japan Punch. Wirgman was Bigot’s ‘predecessor’ and friend (he launched his own satirical magazine Tôbaé in 1887, the year Japan Punch closed). Georges Bigot and Japan also makes a valuable contribution to Meiji Studies and the history of both Franco- and Anglo-Japanese relations, as well as the role of art in modern international relations.
Author Bio
Christian Polak is a distinguished scholar and businessman. He is the author of numerous books and essays on the history of Franco-Japanese relations with particular reference to the nineteenth century. He is an associate-researcher at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and is also an associate-professor at Meiji University’s School of Political Science, Tokyo.