Until the mid-19th century, Japan was closed to the outside world. When the country opened its borders, Japanese prints and artifacts began appearing in European markets in large numbers, and Japanese art quickly became popular.
Many artists were captivated by the lyrical, refined depictions of nature and were especially fascinated by the asymmetrical compositions and the preference for vertical forms. As a result, Japonisme became a cultural phenomenon and, through its influence on Art Nouveau, played a key role in the break with past styles. The flat composition of Japanese woodcuts, with its two dimensions and clearly drawn lines, was a major source of inspiration for European artists.