10 real paintings featured in the show (and what they mean)


Currently streaming on Netflix, Blue period is the long-awaited adaptation of one of the critically acclaimed manga of recent years. He follows aimless teenager Yatora as he discovers a passion for art and the long, difficult journey he takes to secure a scholarship to an art school.

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Along the way, viewers will be treated to a cavalcade of beautiful paintings produced by Yatora and his classmates. All artists learn from imitation, and the series features famous paintings from the real world.

ten Girl with a Pearl Earring (Johannes Vermeer, 1665)

blue vintage girl with pearl earring

This painting by Johannes Vermeer is used by Oda, the teacher of the Yatora Preparatory School, as an example of a masterpiece with a clear composition, and it is not difficult to see why: its simple image and iconic cemented it as a painting in the art world.

It even stands out from other works by Vermeer, with the dark, solid background contrasting with his usual scenes of realistically cluttered domestic life. What really draws viewers to the painting, however, is the girl’s facial expression: an enigmatic face like that of the Mona Lisa.

9 Seascape near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Vincent Van Gogh, 1888)

blue period Seascape near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

This seascape is not one of Van Gogh’s most famous works, but it still shows his ever-brilliant use of color and movement. Like all great seascapes, the waves seem to have been captured in an instant and yet about to crash again.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother how difficult it was to capture the exact color of the sea, noting that it changed with every movement of the light. Blues, greens, yellows and purplish tones can all be seen in this painting.

8 Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters (Unknown, c.1594)

Viewers might well have had a double take when this painting appeared in Oda’s composition explanation. There is (supposedly) an innocent explanation, as the gesture would have been taken as an announcement of the woman’s pregnancy.

It is a fascinating work that is both provocative and enigmatic, and therefore has survived even with the name of the long-lost painter.

seven Poppy Field (Gustav Klimt, 1907)

blue period poppy field

Gustav Klimt is perhaps most famous for his works featuring human figures, such as The kiss, but his landscapes – like this one, which Yatora is commissioned to replicate in order to practice composition – are still immediately recognizable as his work, thanks to their incredibly vivid use of color; looking at this painting really feels like peeking into a fantasy world.

This immersion is accentuated by the way in which the composition draws the gaze into the dreamlike landscape, which, as Yatora learns, is an extremely powerful effect.

6 The Desperate Man (Gustave Courbet, 1843-1845)

blue period the desperate man

Gustave Courbet is notable for his emphasis on realism, with several of his most famous paintings depicting scenes of peasants and laborers working in the countryside. as an astonishing testimony to the strength of an artist’s personality.

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It’s so applicable to the series, in fact, that a recreation starring Yatora appeared as one of the manga chapter’s cover pages. The desperation to make good art is, it seems, something that transcends eras, styles and the barrier between fiction and reality.

5 Young Woman with a Water Jug (Johannes Vermeer, 1662-65)

Blue period young woman with a jug of water

Audiences get a good look at this painting in Episode 3, as it is the example Hashida uses when detailing his opinion of art as “inedible food.” Even so, it would be easy to confuse it with one of Vermeer’s most famous works, The milk girl. The two paintings represent a woman dressed in blue, with a jug, under a window in a domestic space.

This repeat of the theme, however, shouldn’t be seen as negative – instead, it shows just how dedicated Vermeer was to perfecting a particular kind of atmosphere.

4 A young woman in 1866 (Édouard Manet, 1866)

blue period young woman 1866

The really wonderful thing about this painting, which appears in the background in Episode 3, is that it combines a masterful portrait with elements of still life – the seemingly incongruous peeled orange on the floor being one of the kind‘s calling cards. Manet is clearly keen to show all he can do.

And, yes, this is Manet, despite the absence of his branded boundary-pushing subject seen in works like Lunch on the Grass and Olympia, who questioned what nudes could be in art. It’s still an extraordinary piece, however, and one that Yatora will hopefully better seen than viewers.

3 Madame Manet at Bellevue (Édouard Manet, 1880)

blue period madame manet in bellevue

This is the second portrait of Manet that can be seen in the background when Yatora and his classmates visit the art gallery, and it serves, alongside Manet’s previous one. a young woman, like a sort of microcosm of Manet’s entire career, the careful realism of the previous work giving way to a few impressionist brushstrokes in this painting.

But, whatever style he uses, Manet remains one of the best portrait painters of all time. With just a handful of brush strokes, he captures his wife’s quiet balance perfectly.

2 The dance class (Edgar Degas, 1874)

blue period the dance class

It’s the painting that really captures Yatora’s attention and inspiration when he sees her at the museum with Hashida and Yotasuke, and it’s not hard to see why. Of all his many works and subjects, Degas’s ballet studies are the most admired. The sparkling tutus and the elegant, expressive gestures of the dancers are perfectly suited to Impressionism, but Degas also knows how to make the scene domestic cozy and realistic.

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Anecdote: the male figure is in fact a famous ballet master, Jules Perrot.

1 Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh, 1888)

starry night blue period

No no The starry Night, that famous swirling sky that almost all spectators know well; this similarly titled painting was done by Van Gogh several months ago and shows him discovering the color effects he would later use to such great effect.

This piece captivates Yatora, who chooses it as a work of art he loves that he must examine in monochrome. He might be drawn to her because, with her palette of blues and calm, nocturnal atmosphere, she reminds him of the pre-dawn Shibuya that inspired his very first painting.

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