Esaias Van De Velde and Japan art: Dutch villages and Christian holy places via Japanese eyes

Esaias Van De Velde and Japan art: Dutch villages and Christian holy places via Japanese eyes

The contemporary Japanese artist Sawako Utsumi adores the richness of Dutch Art from the distant past of the fifteenth to seventeenth century. In this article, the focus is firmly on Esaias van de Velde who passed away in 1630. However, despite the clear admiration held by Utsumi who is paying homage to Esaias, the color scheme and central theme of Christianity in a placid sense are extremely pronounced.

If you fast forward to modern times in Holland and Japan then the old world is still ticking to the traditions of the past in the countryside. Yes, the religious fervor and areas of stratification will be different in comparison with the past, yet despite this, the images conjured up in the mind survives.

I state in a past article, “In the realm of fame, history, time, religious values and natural landscapes then Esaias and Utsumi are a million miles apart. However, in the world of art then anything is possible providing the natural feel is linked with passion and admiration. Therefore, for Utsumi, it is natural to flow between time, space, concepts and ideas because the mystery of Shintoism isn’t constrained by religious orthodoxy.”

In the latest art piece by Utsumi titled Japanese Artistic Light of Esaias Van De Velde, the color scheme and central role of Christianity is striking. Likewise, people depicted seem to have time to waste based on tranquility. At the same time, houses look quaint and the natural flow of life seems a million miles away from modern Tokyo where Utsumi currently resides.

It is known that Esaias admired Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569). Intriguingly, this artist was called “Peasant Bruegel.” For Utsumi, the artist Bruegel is also deeply admired because of his depiction of adorable landscapes and artistic themes that focus on peasants. In a sense, Utsumi is trying to fuse both artists within her art based on several angles.

Utsumi’s other art piece titled Japanese Reflection of Esaias van de Velde ties in greatly with her latest art piece titled Japanese Artistic Light of Esaias Van De Velde. Therefore, despite the homage being shown by Utsumi towards Esaias, it is abundantly clear that her own thoughts are focused on different themes outside of the original art pieces by Esaias and this notably applies to the Christian angle.

Lee Jay Walker

Please email Sawako Utsumi at


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.