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Menpes painted this tea-house in Japan during a visit of eight months to study Japanese art. His scenes in Japan were exhibited in London in 1888, and he dedicated the exhibition to Whistler. Although so small, this was one of the largest paintings there.
Menpes was Australian, and toured Europe to make topographical etchings. He became an assistant and friend of Whistler, who encouraged his interest in Japanese art. The self-conscious arrangement of trees and the central post in this picture was intended to emulate Japanese design, but it remains a conventional view.

August 2004