Book launch

Thursday 12 April 2018
6:00pm – 7:00pm

Georges Bigot and Japan, 1882-1899: Satirist, Illustrator and Artist Extraordinaire

Drinks reception from 7:00pm

13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle (entrance facing Regent's Park), London NW1 4QP

Organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

Compiled and Edited by Christian Polak with Hugh Cortazzi
Published by Renaissance Books


Incorporating over 250 illustrations, Georges Bigot and Japan is the first comprehensive study in English of French artist and caricaturist, Georges Ferdinand Bigot (1860-1927). Inspired by what he saw of Japanese culture and way of life at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878, Bigot went to Japan in 1882, immediately developing his career as an artist working in pen and ink, watercolours and oils. He also 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. Bigot remains well known in Japan where examples of his cartoons still appear in Japanese textbooks, but he is barely known in France, his home country, or in Britain.

In this event, Sir Hugh Cortazzi briefly introduced the volume, and Christian Polak then gave an illustrated talk about Bigot. The volume includes a full introduction of the life, work and artistry of Bigot by Polak, together with an essay by Sir Hugh 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, 1882-1899: Satirist, Illustrator and Artist Extraordinaire was sold on sale during the evening for £40 (RRP £95).

About the contributors

Christian Polak

Christian Polak is the author of numerous books and essays on the history of Franco-Japanese relations with particular reference to the nineteenth century. He studied at Hitotsubashi National University gaining his PhD in 1980 on French-Japanese diplomatic relations; later, he became a researcher at the Maison Franco-Japonaise. Today he is an associate-researcher at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales of Paris and an associate-professor at the School of Political Science and Economics at Meiji University in Tokyo. He has organised many exhibitions relating to different aspects of Franco-Japanese historical relations.

Hugh Cortazzi

Hugh Cortazzi was British Ambassador to Japan, 1980-1984, and Chairman of the Japan Society, London, 1985-1995. He has written extensively on Japan. His many books include Isles of Gold: Antique Maps of Japan, The Japanese Achievement, and his memoir Japan and Back and Places Elsewhere. Most recently, he has edited Carmen Blacker: Scholar of Japanese Religion, Myth and Folklore, and (with Peter Kornicki), Japanese Studies in Britain: A Survey and History.

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