A history of Japanese colour-prints [1910]


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A history of Japanese colour-prints [1910]

  1. 1. 3 1924 073 202 651
  2. 2. Cornell University Library The original of this book is in the Cornell University Library. There are no known copyright restrictions in the United States on the use of the text.http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924073202651
  5. 5. 6^<Printed in Englamd q^
  6. 6. PREFACEThe first comprehensive survey of Japanese Wood-Engraving,Andersons monograph in the Portfolio, appeared in 1895. Thefirst attempt to write a history of this art was Strangestotally inadequate Japanese Illustration of 1897. Unfortunately,Strange had published before he was able to take advantageof the new light thrown upon his subject by FenoUosa, in hisilluminating Catalogue of 1896, The Masters of Ukiyoye. Theonly remaining sources of information for the student were anumber of scattered articles, monographs, exhibition catalogues,and sale catalogues, and it seemed to me that I might do auseful work by gathering together all this disjointed learninginto a coherent whole. Japanese art has become an element inour European culture ; it supplies certain needs of our age, andmakes distinctly for its progress. But in order to appreciateJapanese Wood-Engraving to the full, we must know the inter-relation between the various artists, and the successive stages ofdevelopment in their art ; we also require a criterion by which totest individual essays, that we may not rest content with weakand imitative work when the best is within reach. A survey ofJapanese Wood-Engraving which would serve these ends wasthe task I accordingly set before me. In any appreciation of Japanese art, everything depends onthe standpoint adopted by the critic. If, as the majority ofwriters on this subject have been wont to do, we apply theEuropean standard, we shall be led to hail the impressionisticartists of the nineteenth century, and notably Hokusai, as theprotagonists of Japanese Wood-Engraving, for we are naturally
  7. 7. vi PREFACE affected by the affinities we discern between our own and ideals those of these artists, in whom the European leaven had begunto work. If, however, we try, like FenoUosa, to take theJapanese point of view, we shall recognise that Hokusais realgreatness lies in those very elements of his art which are mostalien to us ; and we shall see, further, that among the innumer-able masters of the eighteenth century, there were many whowere greatly superior to him. The art of the nineteenthcentury, with which alone the general public is to some extentfamiliar, has been given an importance far in excess of itsdeserts. It was at best an aftermath, and in some respects adecadence. I have therefore dealt with it somewhat summarily,whereas I have traced the developments of the eighteenthcentury, constituting a rich, a steady and a varied evolution,with all possible care and elaboration. My book is a provisionalessay in the synthetic presentment of our knowledge of JapaneseColour-Printing, and a guide for those who require some direc-tion in this, as yet by no means familiar field. I have madeno attempt at exhaustive treatment, for any such a schemewould be impossible of execution, in the face of the con-tradictions which abound in the literature bearing on mysubject in different countries. The collector must not lookhere for a treatise which will relieve him from the necessity ofindependent research or verification. Certain inequalities ofthe work may be explained by its genesis. Where the materialon which I had to work was better prepared, as, for instance,in the case of Utamaro and Hokusai by the Goncourts, I wasof course able to offer more. I have not shrunk from repetitionon occasion, when it seemed necessary to emphasise notable factsor to impress important views on the reader. With few ex-ceptions, I have relied upon Fenollosas Catalogue in describingthe development of Japanese Colour-Printing, and the charac-tenstics of the individual artists. I trust I have in every instance
  8. 8. PREFACE viirightly interpreted the opinions of this distinguished expert.Though it has been my earnest endeavour to keep the Japaneseideal in view, many may still object that the criticisms of artistssuch as Kiyonaga, Sharaku, and Hokusai are over-European insentiment. In cases where there were materials for comparativejudgment, and where it seemed likely to be fruitful of results,I have not hesitated to apply our own divergent standardoccasionally. My thanks are due to all who have helped me cither inpractical matters or with their advice, and in the first placeto Messrs. Vever, Koechlin, Bing, and Gillot of Paris, Koepping,Liebermann, and Pachtcr of Berlin, and Ocder of Dttsseldorf,who most kindly gave me leave to reproduce prints in theircollections. Others to whom I am indebted are Messrs.Migeon of Paris, and Brinckmann of Hamburg, who suppliedme with many valuable notes and last, but not least, Mr. ;Shinkichi Hara, who was gpod enough to read through mytext, to give me many precious hints and explanations relatingto the prints, and briefly, to make this edition, imperfectthough it may be, both more correct and more informingthan its predecessor. The publishers of the English versionof this work also owe acknowledgments to Mr. J. V. Scholdererof the British Museum for revision of the translation, andto Mr. Laurence Binyon for helpful suggestions in connectiontherewith.
  10. 10. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOURTOYOKUNI The : Actor Torava holding a Letter- box IN HIS Teeth Frontispiece British MuseumTOYONOBU : Boy dancing with a Hobby-horse . Face page 6 (Two-Colour Print) British MuseumKIYONOBU : Kumagai no Jiro at the Battle of Ichinotami Tan- ye „ 20 British MuseumKIYOMITSU The Actor Kikugoro holding : a Mirror (Three-Colour Print) „ 34 Museum BritishHARUNOBU: The Bowl British Museum of Gold-fish ... „ 54HARUNOBU: Vase of Flowers and Rising Moon . „ 60 Monsieur J. Peytel, ParisSHUNSHO: Fan „ 78 Monsieur G. Bullier, ParisKIYONAGA: Girls on Seashore . . . „ 100 British MuseumKIYONAGA: Girls tying Poems on Blossoming Trees in Spring „ 110 British MuseumYEISHI: Lady holding Sak^ Cup and with Attributes of Good Luck „ 118 British MuseumUTAMARO : Girls gathering Mulberry-leaves (Part of the twelve-sheet Print of Sericulture) „ 126 British MuseumUTAMARO: British Girls under Cherry-trees Museum ... „ 136SHARAKU Actor reading Announcements from a : Scroll before a Performance . . . . „ 146 British Museum
  11. 11. xii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONSHOKUSAI: The Waterfall of Yoro (One of the Face page 156 Eight Waterfalls) British MuseumHOKUSAI: One of the small Flower-set . . » 17°HIROSHIGE: Bridge in Rain ,,188 (One of the Hundred Views of Yedo) • British Museum BLACK AND WHITEMORONOBU: Two Court Ladies, an old one to THE Right, a young one to the Left . . „ 2 Gillot Collection, ParisTORH KIYOMASU: Falcon on Perch . . . „ 8 Doucet CollecUoti, PaHsISHIKAWA TOYONOBU: Three Geishas, repre- senting the Spring Wind, the Summer Wind, AND the Autumn Wind . . . . . ,, 12 Vever Collection, ParisKIYOMITSU Young A Bath : ........ Vever Collection, Paris Girl chasing Fireflies after „ 16KORIUSAI: A Lady cutting the Hair from the Nape of her Younger Sisters Neck . . „ 16 Koepping Collection, BerlinSHIGEMASA: A Circus Scene in the Open Air . „ 18 Koechlin Collection, ParisSHUNKI: An Actor in a Female Part . . . ,, 2aKIYONAGA: A Koechlin Collection, Paris Street Scene at Night Vever Collection, Paris ... ,,24KIYONAGA: A Temple Festival . . . „ 30 Koechlin Collection, ParisSCHUNCHO: Women R. Wagner, Berlin on New Years Day . . ,,32SHUMMAN: A Geisha Btng ..... Collection, Young Man Paris as Narihira and a 16SHUNZAN AS Monkeys Bing ....... Dance of four Geishas, two disguised : , 38YEISHI : A Collection, Paris Tea-house by a River Vever Collection, Paris .... ,,40
  12. 12. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xiiiUTAMARO: A Walk Royal Print Room, Dresden at Low Tide .... Face page 42UTAMARO : Women on a Bridge on a Summer Evening „ 44 Vever Collection, ParisUTAMARO ; Kintoki with the Mountain-woman, Yamauba, who offers him a Bunch of Chest- nuts „ 46 Vever Collection, ParisUTAMARO: R. Wagner, Berlin Fisherwomen on the Sea-shore . . ,,48SHARAKU: An Actor in the Costume of a Noble „ 50 Koechlin Collection, ParisTOYOKUNI A Young Lady with her little : Sister and a Friend walking on a Bridge late on a Summer Evening . . . . „ 52 Royal Print Room, DresdenHOKUSAI: Cranes in the snow on a Pine-tree . „ 56 Vever Collection, ParisMORONOBU: a Game Bing Collection, Paris of Ball .... „ 64NORISHIGE : Irises and Paulownia Courtesan Bing Collection, Paris in Flowers .... a Robe figured with „ 66YAMATO TORIIKIYONOBU Bijin in a Robe : figured with Written Characters and Paul- ownia Flowers „ 68 Vever Collection, ParisKIYOMASU : Lady at her Toilet Vever Collection, Paris .... „ 72KIYOHARU : A Young Woman travelling, with two Servants „ 72 Bing Collection, ParisMASANOBU : Courtesan with a Servant Royal Print Room, Dresden . . ,,74OKUMURA MASANOBU: A Picnic under Cherry- trees in Blossom „ 76 Vever Collection, ParisTOSHINOBU: An Shower of Gold Bing Collection, Paris ...... Actor, in a Female Part, in a „ 80 tree .........SHIGENOBU: Horses Bing Collection, Paris drinking under a Cherry- „ 80
  13. 13. xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONSMASANOBU: Kamuro (Servant) writing a Love LETTER, HER MiSTRESS WATCHING HER , Face page 86 Koefping Collection, BerlinSHIGENAGA : Shoki, the Devil-queller . 88 Koechlin Collection, ParisKIYOMITSU New : Shirabioshis (Singers) Royal Print RooTn, Dresden .... Years Dance, executed by twoKIYOMITSU: A Bathing Scene in a House 92 Vever Collection, ParisKIYOMITSU Woman A Cat ... : Vever Collection, Paris in a Dressing-Gown with „ 92HARUNOBU: A Dancer with a Kerchief round HER Head, holding a large Fish on Wheels 94 Vever Collection, ParisHARUNOBU: A Young Girl with Bow and Arrows {Yokio) ., 96 Vever Collection, ParisHARUNOBU Lady on a Bridge in the : Snow, wrapping herself with her Sleeves . » 9<5 Koechlin Collection, ParisHARUNOBU Ama : (Fisherwoman) with Tago (Poly- pus) 98 Vever Collection, ParisHARUNOBU: Girl coming down Steps 98 Oeder Collection, DUsseldorfYOSHINOBU Two Women : in a Room . „ 102 Bing Collection, ParisKORIUSAI: Lady in the Snow „ 106 Vever Collection, ParisKORIUSAI: Fighting Cocks 106 Vever Collection, Paris »KORIUSAI: The Returning Sail 106 R. Wagner, Berlin „SHIGEMASA: Ono no Dofu, the famous Calli crapher, as a Young Man Vever Collection, Paris » 108SHUNSHO: Actor in Female Costume executing a Dance with a Hobby-horse • R. Wagner, Berlin II 112BUNCHO: A Lady in the Snow Vever Collection, Paris „ 112TOYOHARU The : Eighth Month (September) Bmg Collection, Paris •> 114
  14. 14. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xvUTAGAWA TOYONOBU: Acrobats . . . Face page ii6 Bing Collection, ParisSHUNYEI Peasant Girl in Trousers and Sandals : LEADING A HORSE LOADED WITH RiCE-STRAW . „ Il6 Vever Collection, ParisKIYONAGA: A Terrace by the Sea . . . „ 120 Vever Collection, ParisKIYONAGA: Three Singers at the Bath . . „ 122 Vever Collection, ParisKIYONAGA: Musical Entertainment with the Aoto (below) and the Shamisen . . . . „ 124 Koepping Collection, Berlin.KIYOTSUNE: An Actor as the Poet Botankwa on an Ox led by a Courtesan Bing Collection, Paris .... ,,130YEIRI: A Singer » 132 Vever Collection, ParisYEISHI : A Lady of Rank seated and leaning on the hijikake . . . . . . . . „ 132 Royal Print Room Dresden ,YEISHO: Two Courtesans „ 132 Royal Print Room, DresdenUTAMARO: Night Festival on the Sumida River, Yedo 11 138 Vever Collection, ParisUTAMARO: Grasshopper and Caterpillar . . „ 138 R. Wagner, BerlinUTAMARO: Two held back by a Girl Ve^er Collection, Paris Ladies, ...... one of whom is being „ 142UTAMARO: An Elopement Scene . . . „ 144 Vever Collection, ParisUTAMARO: Kintoki suckled by the Mountain- woman . 11 144 Vever Collection, ParisUTAMARO: Mother and Child (La Gimblette) . „ 144 Vever Collection, ParisNAGAYOSHI: Chasing Fireflies on a Summer Evening » iS^ Koechlin Collection, ParisSHARAKU: Two Actors „ . 154 Royal Print Room, DresdenSHARAKU: Actor in a Female Part, holding A Bag .1 154 Vever Collection, Paris
  15. 15. xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS her Boat Face page 158TOYOKUNI: Woman in . . . Bing Collection, ParisTOYOHIRO: The Evening Bells of Uyeno (Park CONTAINING THE TOMBS OF THE ShOGUNS) AT YeDO „ l6o Royal Print Room, DresdenSHUNRO (HOKUSAI) Courtesan in a Bath-gown, : OF Shoes Bing .....••• WITH her Servant, who is arranging a Pair Collection, Paris » 162HOKUSAI Three: Girls boating at the Season of Cherry-blossom » 164 Vever Collection, ParisHOKUSAI: A Travelling Company. . . . „ 166 R. Wagner, BerlinHOKUSAI: A Boat laden with Mats and Melons „ 166 Royal Print Room, DresdenHOKUSAI: The Wave „ 168 Vever Collection, ParisHOKUSAI: Fuji in Fine Weather from the South „ i68 Koechlin Collection, ParisHOKUSAI: Lilies ,,172 Vever Collection, ParisHOKUSAI: Lobster and Pine-branch . . . ,, 173 Vever Collection, ParisKUNIYOSHI The Priest Nichiren, Founder of the : Vever Collection, Paris ....... Buddhist Sect Hokka (Thirteenth Century), IN the Snow „ 188HIROSHIGE : Travellers ascending a Mountain in the Snow ,,190 Royal Print Room Dresden ,HIROSHIGE: The Hurricane Royal Print Room, Dresden ,,190HIROSHIGE: Wild Geese at Full Moon . . „ 192 Vever Collection, Paris ERRATA On plate facing p. 9 for Kujomitsu read Kiyomitsu 11 >, p. 22 for Shunti read Shunki .) „ p. 68 for Byun readS,yxi.
  16. 16. CHAPTER I GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS I. Character of Japanese Painting — 2. Technique — 3. The Opening Up of JapanI. Character of Japanese Painting. —Japanese painting,like its parent art, Chinese painting, differs from modernEuropean painting in this, that it deliberately foregoes allmeans of producing an immediate illusion. It knows nothingof the third dimension, but confines itself to decorative effectsin one plane at the same time the extraordinarily developed ;powers of observation in the Japanese enable it to convey anunusual amount of life and spirit.^ With the Japanese space is not indicated by receding degreesof depth, and if represented at all, at least in the best period oftheir art, is not subject to the laws of a strict perspective, beingmerely indicated by a series of scenes, as on the stage. Menand objects in space are not rounded, and cast no shadowsshadows so cast being, according to the Chinese doctrine, some-thing accidental and not worthy of representation at all.Objects do not throw back the sunlight in the form of highlights, nor do they reflect other objects in their neighbourhoodthis is most conspicuous in the case of water, which showsneither reflections nor high lights. Hence anything in thenature of chiaroscuro, a homogeneous scheme of light altering ^ See Madsen, p. 12 ff-; Brinckmann, i. 174-81. A
  17. 17. 2 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSall the colour-values in a certain direction, is out of the question,whether in representations of interiors or the open air. More-over, the proportions of the figures are usually quite arbitrary,partly because of insufficient attention to this point, partly fromdeliberate purpose. The immobility of the features is to be explained by thepeculiar Japanese notion of decorum, which insists on aconstantly equable seriousness of expression, one result beingthat the women have their eyebrows shaved off, their lipspainted blue-red (with bent), and their faces thickly coveredwith powder — as is not unknown in Europe. But the bodiesalso generally appear in a state of repose bordering on rigiditya slight flexure — to which the loosely flowing robes yieldwithout effort — a scarcely noticeable inclination must sufficeto express the character and psychology of the person repre-sented : even in daily life the exchange of emotions leads tono bodily contact ; hand-shaking is entirely unknown, kissing isnot customary, any more than walking arm-in-arm. Even thedances of the Japanese offer few occasions for livelier move-ment ; in general they are confined to pantomime, suggesting theemotions to be conveyed by the posture of the body, the move-ment of legs and hands, and especially by the expression of theeye. Hence there are few opportunities for foreshorteningand overlapping. To be sure, since the end of the eigliteenth century someartists had begun to break through these rules, and endeavouredto apply the notions of perspective which they learnt from Europe,to give greater depth and unity to the landscape and greaterexpressiveness to the figures, and indeed certain masters of earlier Moronobu, Sukenobu, Shigemasa,periods, the book-illustratorshad produced designs remarkable for movement and animation.But all of them adhered to certain significant characteristics,notably the absence of shadows and modelling, so that the
  18. 18. GiLLOT Collection, ParisMORONOBU Two: COURT Ladies, an old one to the Right, a young one to the Left. Book illustration.
  19. 19. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 3whole of Japanese art, even down to its most recent past,remains in its principles fundamentally opposed to modernEuropean art. In order to do justice to this peculiarity of Eastern Asiaticart, we must mentally revert to the point of view of such periodsas have pursued similar decorative aims in contrast to thenaturalistic aims predominating to-day. In the art of Egyptand of Greece up to Alexandrine times, in the Roman andGothic periods up to the discovery of perspective in Italy andthe invention of oil-painting in Flanders at the beginning ofthe fifteenth century, we meet with very similar endeavours.During these periods the art of painting was absolutely con- allventional, and contented itself with certain more or less, fixed typesthat altered only very gradually yet by the aid of a careful and ;precise contour, nicely calculated masses of light and shade, anda harmonious colour-scheme, it succeeded in achieving effects atonce decorative and monumental, and at the same time in im-parting to the representation a varying content of strength,grace, or sublimity, according to the character of the subject.By this method no imitation of nature, no complete deceptionor illusion is either endeavoured or attained and yet such an ;art ranks at least as high in our estimation as that of therealistic period in which we ourselves are living ; not only so,but we see that the greatest artists of this very period, a Raphael,a Michaelangelo, a Da Vinci, when they were broughtjface toface with the highest problems of decorative art, sacrificed agreat part of the literal truth which they might have attainedin order to augment the grandeur, and impres- intelligibility,siveness of their creations, thus approaching once more thesimpler ideal of the past, though unable to achieve quite thesame effects as the ancients. The attempt has been made to account for the idiosyncrasyof Eastern Asiatic art on technical grounds inherent in the
  20. 20. 4 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSnature of the country, such as the flimsy construction of the trulyhouses, which are small and offer no solid wall-space formonumental painting to develop on, or the exclusive use ofsuch elementary media as water-colour and Indian ink or the —position in which the artist works, according to the custom ofthe country, squatting on the ground and having his paintingsurface spread out horizontally before him; the consequencebeing that he only gets, as it were, a birds-eye view of hispicture, and that in the case of the usual long rolls, he cannever overlook it as a whole; any more than the spectator can,who inspects the same attitude. pictures in the Now it isquite true that oil-painting, which might easily have broughtabout a revolution, as it did in Europe, remained unknown tothe Eastern Asiatics. Again, had not the volcanic soil, whicha succession of earthquakes keeps constantly trembling, pre-vented the erection of solid masonry, Japanese painting wouldprobably have witnessed a more varied development. But itsgeneral character, tendency, and aims would have remained thesame ; the similarity of earlier developments in Europe andthe adjacent countries proves it. National peculiarities of soiland custom may give rise to local variations, but cannot deter-mine an art in its essence ; for its roots lie in the national char-acter, which creates its means of representation and techniqueaccording to its innate ideals, but conversely will not allowthe main tendencies of its art to be determined by externalfactors. The imitation of Nature is for the Japanese only a means toan end, not an end in itself. Mere virtuosity in this line doesnot move them to admiration ; were it otherwise, we need onlyconsider their renderings of birds, fishes, insects, and flowers tobe sure that, with their splendid powers of observation, theymight have achieved far more than they actually have done inthis direction. On the contrary. Nature in their eyes merely
  21. 21. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 5furnishes forth the material from which the artist draws what-ever he may require for the embodiment of his personal idealsand individual tastes. On these elements he works quitearbitrarily and with absolute freedom ; for painting, after theChinese precedent, is not regarded as a technical accomplishmentor a craft, but ranks on precisely the same level as calligraphy,which is a liberal art and a pastime for people of rank andculture, far more dependent upon purity of feeling, sublimityof conception, exquisiteness of taste, in short, on individualcreative power, than on any mere technical dexterity or skill.This estimate of painting as the peer of calligraphy explainsnot only the decorative character of Japanese art, the strictformalism of its style, the great importance which it attachesto the balance of light and dark masses, the subordinationof colour to purely decorative ends, but also the wonderfulfreedom which Japanese managed to retain in art has alwaysspite of its tendency to formalism. For the essence of callig-raphy consists, according to Chinese ideas, by no means in mereneatness and regularity of execution, which might easily lead tostiffness and frigidity, but primarily in the most perfect solutionof the artistic problem consistent with the greatest economyof means. The fundamental idea, in fact, here as in all therhythmic arts, poetry, music, architecture, is that of play. TheJapanese deliberately refrains from saying all that he has to say,from giving full plasticity to his figures or depth and breadth to hisspaces, from breaking up and balancing his masses by symmetricaldivision or repetition; all this would merely draw him awayfrom his goal and fetter the free activity of his imagination.All his efforts are directed towards restricting himself to whatis essential to his purpose, employing natural forms in the fullfreedom and making his con- variety of their organic growth,tour lines as simple and expressive as possible (Madsen thinkshe recognises the Japanese norm of beauty in the S-line) and
  22. 22. 6 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSstriking an individual note in his choice of colours. As the in meansobjects to be represented are simple and the deficiencyof realistic representation is skilfully made good by speciallycalculated effects of colour and technique, the conventionalismof this art, which works by mere suggestion, is very much lessnoticeable than in the productions of other peoples that are stillon low level of development. a To what extent all this is the result of conscious intentionand design is well shown by the utterances of two Japanesewho express the national sentiments on this subject. The first,Shuzan, wrote as follows in the year 1777 ^ " Among the various :kinds of painting there is one which is called the naturalistic, inwhich it is thought proper to represent flowers, grasses, fishes,insects, &c., exactly as they appear in Nature. This is a specialstyle and certainly not one to be despised but since it only aims ;at showing the forms of things, without regard for the canonsof art, it is after all merely a commonplace and can lay no claimto good taste. In the works of former ages the study of theart of outline and of the laws of taste was held in honour,without any exact imitation of the forms of Nature." Theother authority, Motoori, the most eminent scholar and writerof modern Japan, says : ^ " Many kinds of style are now invogue which profess to be imitations of the Chinese, and therepresentatives of which make a point of painting every objectin exact accordance with Nature. This I conceive to be the so-called realistic art. Now I make no question but that thisprinciple is in itself excellent ; but at the same time there isbound to be a certain difference between real objects and theirpictorial presentation." He then enters more minutely into thedifference between the Chinese and the Japanese points of view,and proceeds to set forth how the Chinese are realistic and ugly,how their landscapes are ill designed, sketchy where minute ^ See Anderson, Pictorial Arts. 2 Transactions, xii. 226 ff.
  23. 23. TOYONOBUBOY DANCING WITH A HOBBY-HORSE (Two-colour print) British Museum
  24. 24. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 7elaboration is called for, but overloaded with detail where abroad treatment would have been better — further, how theirbirds and insects do not look as though they flew or crawled,how their leaves and trees are not outlined at least, since —there exists no such dividing line between the object and itsbackground in the real world he presumes that they willendeavour to imitate Nature by leaving out these lines. Inconclusion he declares himself a strong supporter of Japaneseconventionalism. This is not the place to go into the exact nature of Japanesetaste, for this only shows itself in its sharpest definition duringthe classic period of Japanese, painting, which preceded theeighteenth century, the era of wood-engraving. It is the artof the nineteenth century alone which has influenced the mostrecent developments of European art and modified Europeantaste, although for the Japanese it no more than a representslast phase, a second and less vigorous flowering, however newand subtle its manifestations. It will therefore be sufiicient toconfine our attention to its formal qualities — the decorativecharacter of its design and its impressionistic point of view. In these qualities lay predisposed the elements whichEurope, during centuries of development along realistic lines,had almost entirely lost sight of. Only a return to the freshand ever vivid hues of Nature could rescue us from the drabmonotony of factitious monochrome ; only a resumption ofconsciously decorative aims in design could rescue us from amethod of figure-drawing whose results had as little distinctionor individuality as a photographers pose. Pioneers like Manet,Degas, Bocklin, and their followers were active in both directions.So long, however, as European art was still in the stage ofpreparation and apprenticeship, the Japanese wood-engravingscould render but very limited services, nay, might even misleadinto an entirely wrong track. To-day, on the other hand, as
  25. 25. 8 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS the goal of artistic endeavour grows gradually clearer, the time is athand when they too may point the right way towards it, and are no longer in danger of being admired solely for their strange —and exquisite subtlety a subtlety eloquent of that wide-spreadingdeep-seated canker which afflicted eighteenth-century Japan just asit could have been observed to afflict contemporary Europe. The diiFerentia of Japanese art is just this, that into perfectlyconventional forms is infused a content constantly fresh-drawnfrom Nature. The development of the European poster, whichwould be quite unthinkable without Japanese influence, is onlythe first step towards a renewal of European painting in all itsbranches, and especially of monumental painting. The solu-tion after which we are reaching has been forming there forcenturies. And, whatever the difi^erence of circumstances,requirements, and race, the fact remains that Japanese art is farcloser to us than the art of our own past, with which, howevermuch we may admire its productions, we are completely outof touch. The transition to genuine Greek art, which afterall is bound to remain our ideal, is easier by far to accomplishfrom Japanese art than from the romantic art which stillendeavours to maintain its hegemony over us to-day. 2. Technique. —In considering the importance of the partwhich wood-engraving plays in the life of Japan, we mustdistinguish sharply between the productions of the decline,which began about 1840, and those of the preceding 150years. The later productions, like our sheets of colouredillustrations, cater for the amusement of the masses those of :earlier periods, on the other hand, occupy a position midwaybetween painted pictures and popular illustrations, much like thewoodcuts and copper-plates of the European Renaissance. Here,as in Europe, the designs for the wood-engravings were suppliedby professional painters, who either actually continued, or at anyrate were fully competent, to follow concurrently their regular
  26. 26. TORII KIYOMASU Falcon on Perch. A crested bird with : outspread tail fastened to a bar by a cord, which terminates below in a heavy wist finished off by two tassels. Kakemono. i Signed: Torii Kiydmasu. Red and yellow predominate.
  27. 27. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 9avocation. But little trouble was commonly taken with thewoodcuts intended for illustrative purposes, and the work wasmostly ordinary black-and-white. But to colour-prints, whetherpublished in book form or as single sheets, the artists devotedtheir utmost skill. Had not a considerable value attached tothese productions even at their first appearance, comparativelylarge numbers of good copies would not have survived to thepresent day. These woodcuts in fact were, just as in Europe, developedfrom the art of book-illustration and were not intended asa substitute for painted pictures; and to make this quiteclear, it is necessary to indicate briefly the generically differentshape in which Japanese woodcuts and Japanese pictures appear.Whereas the cuts of the good periods are as a rule approxi-mately in large or small quarto, the pictures follow the Chinesemodel and are designed either («) as kakemonos, long bandssuspended vertically, or (^) makimonos, rolls unwrapped ashorizontally. In the case of the kakemono, the true pictureof the Far East, the painting itself Is usually mounted on aframe of rich brocade. One, generally, or at most three, ofthese pictures are hung on the wall, invariably in the tokonomaor recess, where the censer, the flower-vase, and the candle-stick are also to be found as a rule. The picture is changedfrom time to time, and on the occasion of a friends visit orthe reception of a distinguished stranger the most valuableand venerable piece in the collection Is selected for exhibition.On the other hand, the long horizontal rolls called makimonos,which often measure fifteen yards or more, are usually spreadout on the floor to be looked at. Originally they constitutedthe manuscript books of the Japanese and Chinese ; thenillustrations were added to the text, gradually encroached onit more and more, and finally ousted the letterpress altogether.The makimono was the favourite form of picture during the
  28. 28. lo JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSmost period of the national art of Japan, when the brilliantancient chivalry shone in full radiance and the Imperial courtwas at the height of its magnificence. All these paintings wereexecuted in water-colours and were kept rolled up in a separatebuilding (which was also the library), near the dwelling-house.Painting was also employed for the decoration of screens, fans,albums, and so forth.^ As to the Japanese book, it may be remarked that the extremeunpretentiousness of its exterior contrasts with that of the Euro-pean book ; it generally appears in the shape of a thin tractwith a plain limp cover, either as an octavo approaching quartosize or else as a folio of medium dimensions. The sheets, whichare ready cut to the size of the book, are folded only once,printed only on one side, and then sewn together with the foldoutwards. The first page of the Japanese book is the lastaccording to our method; the writing runs down the page invertical lines, beginning in the right-hand top corner, and con-tinuing towards the left margin. The pictures when in oblongform are continued across the pages of the book as it lies openand although each half is enclosed in a border line, the carefuladjustment of the sewing to the inner margin ensures continuity.Brinckmann points out that the Japanese, unlike many modernEuropean printers, were never in the bad habit of insertingoblong pictures vertically in their books.^ The methods of producing the woodcuts are very similarto those formerly in vogue in Europe, the drawing in both casesremaining in high relief as the remainder of the block is cutaway. Nowadays wood-engraving is usually treated like copper-engraving, and the lines of the drawing are incised. One essen-tial difference, however, is this, that the Japanese never drawdirectly on the block itself, as was generally the case in Europe,but always make use of a sheet of thin or transparent paper, * Cf. Madsen, p. 7 flf. Brinckmann, i. 222-25.
  29. 29. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS iiwhich is then pasted face downwards on the block and furnishesthe model for the wood-cutter to follow. It has been much disputed whether the great Europeanmasters of wood-engraving, such as Diirer, Holbein, or Cranach, own compositions ; but there is now a generalactually cut theiragreement that they did not do so as a general rule. It is truethat a few later artists, e.g. Livens in the Netherlands, andGubitz, who revived wood-engraving in Germany, practised theart of wood-cutting themselves —were in fact, to use the technicalterm, " peintres-graveurs " ; but they were exceptions. In Japannot a single artist is known to have done his own cutting. Theyconfined themselves to supervising and directing the wood-cutters,who in their turn carried out their employers intentions soskilfully, readily, and intelligently that the technical part of theprocess could be entrusted to their hands with perfect security. Something more must be said about the drawing, in view ofits importance for the quality of the finished product. Theartist conveys it to the paper, not by means of a pen or pencilas in Europe, but by means of a brush, either in outlines of theutmost delicacy and precision, to be filled in with colour whereneeded, or else in broad masses which receive no further contour,but on the contrary are the embodiment of the greatest imaginablefreedom of artistic touch.^ It is not necessary that the wholepicture should be executed in either style throughout ; the centralportions may be precisely outlined, while other parts are broadlysketched in ; indeed, this is more or less the general rule in thecase of foliage, landscape background, and patterns on dresses.The style of precise contours is the traditional style, which wasin vogue from the first beginnings of Japanese painting; thebroader and sketchier manner is peculiar to the popular methods For drawing and writing the brush is held almost upright between the fore andsecond fingers the whole arm moves, not the wrist. Since Indian ink cannot be :erased, the artist is compelled to work with the utmost care and precision.
  30. 30. 12 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSof representation which have developed since the sixteenthcentury. Although the Chinese method of Indian ink washingand shading has been taken up by many Japanese, even by wholeschools in former centuries, it has very naturally received norecognition in wood-engraving, to which it is not applicable.Since the third dimension is never represented in Japanese pictures,no opportunity offered in xylographic drawings for rendering itwith the brush, which is peculiarly well adapted to such work.Nor again is the Japanese artist under any temptation to representrelief by parallel or cross hatching —a process which, as Brinck-mann rightly points out, is no less completely conventional thanany other ; only the reason lies not, as he supposes, in the use ofthe brush instead of a harder medium, for the Japanese with hisbrush can produce far finer and more uniform lines than theEuropean draughtsman with his implements, as the absolutepurity of Japanese outline conclusively proves. Rather is it thecase that the Japanese has no occasion to employ strokes in thisway. His attention being always concentrated on the decorativevalue of this design as a whole, what he principally aims at is,besides expressive contour, a suitable distribution and co-ordina-tion of his colour-surfaces, more especially the proportion ofdark, often unbroken black masses to lighter masses. Hatching,adds Brinckmann, is only found where the nature of the objectto be rendered requires it, as in the case of a horses mane, atigers skin, a peacocks tail, or the bark of a tree-trunk. Toindicate modelling within the contour of an object treated assimply black, it is usual to leave white lines within the blackmass. When the drawing is thus completed on the paper, whichis thin and of very hard surface, and if necessary may be renderedmore transparent by a damp rub over or slight moistening withoil, it is pasted, as has been said, on the block. The block generally consists of a species of very hard cherry-
  31. 31. Vever Collf.ction, Pahis Wit^a!i^«i..Bi ME*dil !ISHIKAWA TOYONOBU Three : Geishas, representing the Spring Wind (oh the right, with pine-branch), the Summer Wind (on the left, with willow-branch), and the Autumn Wind (centre, with maple-branch). Triptych. Two-cohiur print in pink and green.
  32. 32. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 13wood or else box, and is always cut lengthwise, in the directionof the grain, and not across it, as in Europe. The cuttingitself is done in this manner : first of all the two edges of thecontour lines are cut along with a knife, and then the superfluouswood is removed with gouges of various shapes —formerly aknife was used for this too —so that nothing remains but theoutlines of the drawing in relief. Finally, the fragments ofpaper still adhering to the wood are cleaned oiF and the plateis ready for printing. The impression itself is always taken offeither with the hand, or else, as formerly in Europe, with a rubber.This is the secret of its clearness and beauty, as well as of the amaz-ing fidelity with which it follows the artists individual intentions.Special care is devoted to the selection of the paper, accordingto the quantity of colour which it is intended to absorb, andit is slightly damped before printing. In the case of someparticularly fine old prints it is thick and of loose fibre, sothat the design is deeply impressed on it ; it has an ivory toneand a smooth surface. The colouring matter —always water-colour, not oil-colour — is mixed with a little rice-paste andcarefully applied to the block with a brush ; the paper is thenlaid upon the block and the back of it rubbed with the hand orthe rubber. The most varied effects may be attained by varyingthe intensity of the colour, the proportion of water added to it,and the pressure applied to the print.^ In the case of colour-prints, the artist takes off as manycopies of the outline-block as he intends to use colour-blocks,and then further outlines all the parts which are to be printedin the same colour on one of these copies in turn these are ;then again cut on as many blocks as there are colours, onebeing generally put on each side of the same piece of wood, * Tokxmo, Japanese Wood-Cutting, 1894; Anderson, /«/«««« Wood-Engrav-ing, p. 62 ff. (both with illustrations of the implements). See also Rdgamey,Le Japan firatique (1891).
  33. 33. 14 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSai^d occasionally several side by side. The extraordinary develop-ment of this branch of the art is doubtless due to the fact thatthe cost of cutting rendered it essential to get the maximumof effect from a minimum number of blocks. This was moreespecially the case immediately after Harunobu 1765 invented inthe colour-print proper with its unlimited number of blocksand every artist was continually casting about for fresh expedientsto reduce the number of his blocks, either by the partial super-position of different-coloured blocks in printing, or by specialcombinations of colours designed to modify the surroundingcolours, and so forth. It is by no means always the case thata sheet is printed from just as many blocks as it has colours ; forthe printer has it in his power —indeed, this is the capital functionof his art — to weaken his colours on any part of the block byrubbing off the pigment or to intensify them by adding moreto it, so as to graduate his tones, or else to fuse one colourgradually into another and cover, whether simultaneously orsuccessively, different parts of the block with quite differentcolours. The artists of the best period found five or sevencolours sufficient for their needs; but in the case of thesurimonos (see below), which were intended to be unusuallysumptuous, especially at the beginning of the nineteenth century,the number often rises to twenty or even thirty. Correct register of the various colour-blocks is secured bycutting an angle in the lower right-hand corner of the outline-block, and in the left-hand corner in the same straight line aslot. These two marks are cut in exactly the same place onallthe other blocks, and in printing the sheets are imposed insuch a way that their lower and right-hand edges fit exactlyagainst these marks. By this simple device perfect adjustment *of register almost invariably secured. is Those of us who are only acquainted with modern prints,with their predominance of aniline red and blue, can form no
  34. 34. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 15conception of the colours of the fine old prints.^ Chief amongthe reds are a bluish red made from vegetable juice, called beniya brick-red oxide of lead, called tan, which has a slight tendencyto become black, and the Chinese cochineal red. The yellow isgenerally a light ochre ; red ochre was introduced later. Theblue is either carbonate of copper or indigo the green was ;originally light, dark green came in later. Intermediate colourssuch as grey, cold brown, and olive green were added in thecourse of time. Black has played an important part from theearliest period down to modern times ; at first somewhatgreyish, it afterwards gained full intensity and lustre, and wasmuch employed in broad masses. Flesh tints are indicatedalmost imperceptibly, if at all ; but in some prints de luxe,especially at the end of the eighteenth century, they are broughtout by sprinkling the white ground that relieves them withfinely powdered mother-of-pearl, called mica, which producesa soft sheen. There is also a special class of colour-print in which thesecond block employed merely to produce a grey intermediate istint, a third block being often added for flesh tints. These two-block and three-block prints, which are very delicate in effect,are used chiefly in facsimile reproductions of drawings, e.g.of Hokusai. Wash sketches in broad brushwork and fewcolours, like those of Korin, Masayoshi, &c., are reproduced inthe same way, sometimes with blue and red from a second andthird block.^ The effect of colour-prints may also be heightened by dryor blind impressions, which are cut on yet another block andrender the patterns of dresses or stuffs, the details of distantlandscapes, wave on water, occasionally the folds of light- linescoloured robes. They are seldom absent on carefully executed 1 Tokuno, p. 226 ff. ; AaAtrson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, p. 67 ff. Brinckmann, p. 229.
  35. 35. i6 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSprints ; Shigenaga is said to have been the first to employ them,about 1730. Colour-prints go by the name of nishikiye, i.e. brocadepictures ; the general name for single-sheet prints is ichimaiye.Three further special kinds must be mentioned here. Thefirst is the triptychs, consisting of a single design coveringthree folio leaves ; pentaptychs are not unknown. The secondis the long narrow strips which FenoUosa calls kakemonos.The best masters have been tempted to try their hand atthis species, which at first sight would seem to give scope butfor a single figure, and even that in none but quiet poses. Yetit has been employed with the happiest results for designswith two, three, or even more figures, side by side or oneabove the other, at rest or in active movement. Thirdly, thereare the square surimonos, which art-lovers sent to each other asNew Years greetings, and which also served to convey con-gratulations or announcements on other occasions ; their get-upwas most luxurious, gold, and various kinds of bronze silver,toning, a profusion of colours and blind impression werelavished upon them.^ Harunobu is said to have been thefirst to bring them into fashion, his prints dated 1765 beingdoubtless referred to Hokusai and his pupil Hokkei produced ;a number of the very finest. A celebrated example of them isthe series of seven designs by Shuntei, representing the sevenGods of Good Fortune in the shape of well-favoured andgorgeously robed ladies ; these same seven gods entering harbouron their ship in the night between the second and third daysof the New Year, is another favourite subject. Brinckmannhas pointed out that two years, 1804 and 1823, are conspicuousfor their large output of finely printed surimonos. The formerwas the first year of a cycle of sixty years, according to a systemof computation borrowed from China, the seventy-fourth cycle, to Brinckmann, p. 291 ff.
  36. 36. KIYOMITSU : Young Girt, chasing Fireflies after A Bath. An insect-trap on the In the garden a floor. pond with irises. Three-colour print in grey, pink, and yellow.
  37. 37. KoEppiNG Collection-, BerKORIUSAI : A Ladv cutting the Hair from the Nape of her Younger Sisters Neck.On the screen ,i hnrvest scene, which a prince vvaches from his palace window. To the right a mirror on a stand behind, a branch of blossom. The first of a series of five plates. ; /n grey and brown.
  38. 38. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 17be precise, and a year of the Rat, in terms of the short notation.The latter was the twentieth of the same cycle and a year ofthe Goat. " The year 1 804, a time of general festivity andthe development of Japanese social life in all its brilliance,witnessed the production of many surimonos, among them themost characteristic and elaborate of Hokusai. In 1823 com-petitions took place for the finest designs in New Year cards;art clubs and other societies, among them more especially theSociety of Flower Hats, vied with one another in the inven-tion of original and elegant surimonos, and gave commissionsto the artists." 3. The Opening Up of Japan. — Since the coup ditat of1868 Japan is open to Europeans. Indeed, so great was thezeal of the Japanese to turn the achievements of Europeancivilisation to their own profit, that at first they took over inindiscriminate haste good and bad alike, science and industriesas well as the ugly and the " cheap and nasty," and were misledinto despising their own best possessions — their national costumeand their national art. It is true that they began remarkablysoon to realise their folly in this respect ; still, the interval waslong enough to enable European and American dealers andcollectors to get into their hands a considerable proportion ofthe national art-products, and among them particularly colour-prints. Our knowledge of this branch of art is based uponcollections so formed. Since the Museum of Japanese Art wasfounded in Tokio, the ancient Yedo, in the seventies of lastcentury, and retrospective exhibitions held there have once moreopened the eyes of the Japanese to the merits of their indigenousart, prices have risen so enormously that scarcely anything ofspecial value is likely henceforward to leave Japan. From the time that a Portuguese mariner in 1542 firsttouched its shore, Dai Nippon, the " Empire of the RisingSun," with its 3800 islands, which Columbus had set out to B
  39. 39. i8 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSseek and found America in its stead, has always been the objectof European longing, cupidity, and admiration.^ To this daythe traveller returning from Japan is full of enthusiasm for 1;hebeauty of the landscape, the mildness of the climate — in thetemperate tracts round Yedo there is scarcely a month of snowand ice— the skill and industry of the men, the charm andmodesty of the women. To be sure, the first European settlerscontrived to make themselves thoroughly detested. The Jesuits,who landed there in formed business the sixteenth century,connections, imported guns and tobacco, and made numerousproselytes. When their behaviour became too imperious, thenatives rose against them; in 1638, 40,000 Christians of Japanare said to have suffered martyrdom. 1597 was the date of the Dutch East India voyage, 1 602 that of the foundation offirstthe Dutch India Company. Relations between the Europeansand Japan were principally maintained from the island ofDeshima ; but soon after, feeling against the foreigners in thecountry began to run high. From 1 641 onwards Japan remained Dutch and to the Chinese, and that onlyaccessible only to thethrough the port of Nagasaki ; from this port were shipped aspecial class of goods, notably porcelain, which was manufactured,specially for export, in immense quantities according to recog-niped patterns, particularly in the western province of Hizen,where Nagasaki is situated. 45,000 pieces of such porcelainwere thus brought to Europe in 1664 on board of eleven Dutchvessels ; and a large trade was similarly done in lacqueredfurniture during the seventeenth century. No European, how-ever, was allowed to enter the country.^ The middle of the nineteenth century witnessed radicalchanges in this respect. In 1853 a commercial treaty was 1 Madsen, pp. 1-6. O. Munsterberg, Japans aiiswartiger Handel von 1342-1834 (Stuttgart,1896), ch. V.
  40. 40. KoECHLiN Collection, Parist. :*^-.A*J-<,..t,l^4t,.i..^:^W^.S~^-».:-.-^-.^l^i^^^SHIGEMASA A :Circus Scene in the Open Air. A parody of the aristocratic races at Kam6 (Kioto), hence the court costumes and bearslcin sword-sheaths. Dresses violet and pale pink. Diptych.
  41. 41. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 19concluded with the United States of America, and was followedby similar treaties with England, France, and Russia. In i860the first Japanese embassy embarked for Europe. In 1890 aconstitution was granted to the nation. Japanese woodcuts first attained more general recognitionat the Great Exhibition of 1862 in London; the first colour-prints reached Paris by way of Havre in the same year. Artistslike Stevens, Whistler, Diaz, Fortuny, Legros, who were thenliving in Paris, gave them their immediate attention ; ^ they werefollowed by Manet, Tissot, Fantin Latour, Degas, Carolus Duran,Monet, and people began collecting the prints. The etchersBracquemond and Jacquemart, and Solon of the Sevres porce-lain works, became the most ardent champions of this latestdiscovery in art. Travellers like Cernuschi, Duret, Guimet,R6gamey, returned from Japan and began to sing the praisesof the country and the countrys art. Writers like Goncourt,Champfleury, Burty, Zola ; publishers like Charpentier ; crafts-men move- like Barbedienne, Christofle, Falize, joined in thement. Villot, the former keeper of the Louvre pictures, wasone of the first to found a collection of Japanese woodcuts.The ground having been so thoroughly prepared, the ParisExposition of 1867 became in due course the scene of a decisivetriumph for the art of Japan. Soon afterwards the Parisianfriends of Japan formed themselves into a Soci^te du Jinglar,which met once a month at a dinner in Sevres. Since the revolution of 1868, by which the Mikados resi-dence was transferred from the old inland capital Kioto toTokio, till then known as Yedo, on the south coast, formerlythe seat of the Shoguns (the ruling military commanders), andthe feudal lords were gradually abolished, Japan, and conse-quently Japanese art, has been entirely open to Europeans. 1 E. Chesneau, " Le Japon h Paris " {Gazette des Beaux Arts, t.^^ pdr., torn, xviii(I878),pp. 38s,84iff-)-
  42. 42. 20 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSThe recognition of Japanese art was still further advanced bythe Universal Exhibitions of 1873 at Vienna and of 1878 atParis, which latter had been organised by Wakai, a man with athorough knowledge of his countrys art. It was not until the middle of the seventies that a museumwas founded in Japan itself, at Tokio, for collecting the pro-ductions of the ancient art. The first director was Yamataka.When a second museum was founded in the middle of theeighties atYamataka exchanged Nara, position for the hisdirectorship of Nara, the Tokio Museum being allotted to theformer Director-General of Art and Science, who subsequentlybecame Viscount Kuki. And when the year 1895 saw thefoundation of a museum in the old imperial city of Kioto, nearNara, Yamataka took over the superintendence of both together. The most important collections formed in Europe are asfollows:^ Siebold brought home in 1830 his collection of some800 paintings (kakemonos), which is now preserved at Leyden.Sir Rutherford Alcock exhibited his collection of wood-engrav-ings at the London Exhibition of 1862, and John Leightondelivered an address upon it in the Royal Institution on May i,1863 it seems, however, to have consisted principally of works ;of the nineteenth century. In 1882 Professor Gierke, of Breslau,exhibited his collection of paintings, some 200 pieces, in theKunstgewerbemuseum at Berlin ; this collection was acquiredfor the Prussian State, which already possessed, in the BerlinPrint-Room, a small collection of illustrated works formed byan earlier owner. Professor Gierke was prevented by his death,which took place in the eighties, from taking in hand the historyof Japanese painting which he had planned. In the same year(1882) the British Museum acquired, for ;C3000, a collection 1 Madsen, pp. 9-1 1. Cf. Ph. Fr. von Siebold was surgeon to the DutchIndian army in Japan from 1823-30. Anderson had had the assistance of Satow, the Japanese secretary of theEnglish embassy at Yedo, in the formation of his collection.
  44. 44. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 21of about 2000 Japanese and Chinese paintings and prints fromDr. William Anderson, who had been Professor of the MedicalAcademy in Tokio. In Paris, where many private collections —of Japanese woodcuts came into being those of Gonse, Bing,Vever, Gillot, Manzy, Rouart, Galimart, and latterly of Koechlinand Count Camondo, deserve special mention — a retrospectiveexhibition of Japanese art was organised as early as 1883, andwas followed by a special exhibition of Japanese wood-engravingsin 1890. At the beginning of 1893 a select exhibition ofHiroshiges landscapes took place in Durand Ruels rooms.The Oriental department of the Louvre possesses a smallcollection of wood-engravings, and so do the Mus6e Guimetand the Biblioth^ue Nationale (the Duret Collection of illus-trated books). A society of Japanophiles (Japonisants), con-sisting of about fifteen members, holds monthly meetings inParis. In February 1909 the first exhibition of Japanese wood-engravings in private possession was held in the Mus6e des ArtsDdcoratifs, and was to be followed by a series of others. In1888 the Burlington Fine Arts Club organised an exhibitionof Japanese wood-engravings a Japan Society was founded ;among English private collections that of Edgar Wilson isspecially highly praised. The largest collection, however, isin the possession of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, viz.some 400 screens, 4000 paintings and 10,000 prints, which werebrought together by Professor Ernest Francisco FenoUosa, whostayed twelve years in Japan as Imperial Japanese Fine ArtsCommissioner, and many years of whose life were spent indescribing and classifying these treasures. He also possesseda noteworthy collection of his own. Among other Americancollections, those of Charles J. Morse and Fred. W. Gookinin Chicago and of George W. Vanderbilt in New York may bementioned. Mr. Francis Lathrop, of New York, possesses about170 Kiyonagas. Dr. Bigelow had exhibited a rich collection
  45. 45. 22 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTSof Hokusais in Boston. In Germany there are the collectionsof Koepping and Liebermann in Berlin, Stadler in Munich,Frau Straus-Negbaur in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Jaekel inGreifswald, Mosl6 in Leipzig, Oeder in DUsseldorf, Grosse inFreiburg (Breisgau), and others. The Berlin Print-Room hasalready been mentioned ; the library of the Berlin Kunstgewerbe-museum more and more to become the has since then tendedcentral repository of State collections ; the Museum far Kunstund Gewerbe at Hamburg possesses a number of prints, &c.and in the Print-Room at Dresden the foundations of a collectionhave been laid. Hand in hand with this increased interest in and compre-hension of Japanese wood-engraving has gone the developmentof the literature on this subject (see the bibliography at the end).The first detailed and trustworthy information about the historyof Japanese painting, as well as some notes on the history of thewood-engraving, was supplied by Anderson in his pioneer work,A History of Japanese Art, published in the Transactions of (1879); his work de luxe.the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. vii.The Pictorial Arts of Japan, in two volumes (1886), and theCatalogue of his Japanese and Chinese paintings acquired bythe British Museum, which appeared at the same time, furtherelaborate the same material, while his Japanese Wood-Engrav~ing, published in the May number of the Portfolio of 1895,condense it into a short, popular outline of the history ofJapanese wood-engraving. Professor Gierke followed Andersonin 1882 with the Catalogue of the exhibition of his collection inthe Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum, which contained a short butcomprehensive and exhaustive and quite independent survey ofthe history of Japanese painting ; and in the following year cameGonses V Art Japonais, a monumental work in two volumes,the comprising painting and wood-engraving, in which a firstfirst and not unsuccessful attempt was made to comprehend
  46. 46. KoiiCHLiN Collection, ParisSHUNTI An Actor : in a Female Part. Bamboos behind the rice-straw fence.
  47. 47. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 23Japanese art from the artistic point of view. Gonses work wascriticised by FenoUosa in his Review of the Chapter on Paint-ing in Gonses " EArt Japonais " (published first at Yokohama,then at Boston in 1885), and his of energetic repudiationGonses (the current) gross over-estimate of Hokusais import-ance in Japanese art was doubtless very well justified ; at thesame time Fenollosa was bound to admit that Gonse had suc-ceeded admirably in making clear to his readers the genius ofKorin, an artist whose qualities are by no means obvious toWestern appreciation. Incidentally FenoUosas far wider anddeeper knowledge of both the pictures and the authoritiesenabled him to contribute a most stimulating survey of thechief points of view from which the development of Japanesepainting is to be judged. In 1885 appeared a little book,entitled Ja-pansk by the Danish artist Madsen Malerkunst,(pronounced Massen). The language in which it is writtenhas unfortunately prevented it from attaining anything approach-ing the publicity which it deserves for its thoroughness, its esprit,its genuinely artistic feeling, and its fascinating style. Even nowa translation of it would constitute the best possible introductionto the genius of Japanese art. In 1889 a new generation appeared on the scene, which beganto extend the province thus lately thrown open by painstakingresearches on single points. Brinckmann in Hamburg pub-lished the first volume of his work on the Arts and Crafts ofJapan, in which he oflFered a complete survey of the history ofJapanese painting and wood-engraving, but still evinced a ten-dency to take his stand beside Gonse rather than Fenollosa, par-ticularly in his over-estimate of Hokusai. Bing in Paris labouredzealously to familiarise the widest circles with Japanese artthrough his Japan Artistique, a splendidly got-up production,which appeared in three languages, French, German, and Eng-lish, and by its excellent illustrations made possible a profound
  48. 48. 24 JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS insight into the Japanese point of view. The series of repro- ductions entitled Kokkwa, which has been publishing at Tokio since 1 890, attains a much smaller circulation, in spite of being far more magnificent still. The catalogues of the Paris Loan- Exhibition in the Ecole des Beaux- Arts, 1890 (with an intro- duction by Bing), and of the Burty Collection, 1891 (with an introduction by Leroux), competently initiated the collectors of Paris into the province of the wood-engravings, hitherto unknown to all but a few. In 1891 Goncourt published hisbook on Utamaro, the first monograph devoted to a Japaneseartist, and followed it up in 1896 by his book on Hokusai,which provoked a good deal of recrimination, as it was based onmaterials which a Japanese had originally collected on com-mission for Bing, but fraudulently disposed of a second time,whereby Bing was anticipated by Goncourt and prevented fromcarrying out his plan of publishing a monograph on Hokusai.Muthers widely read Geschichte der Malerei im XIX. Jahr-hundert contributed its share to popularising the Japanesewood-engraving in Germany, but, owing to the shortness of thechapter in question and the smallness of the reproductions, couldconvey no more than a very general notion of the subject.A better result was achieved by Andersons popular work onJapanese Wood-Engraving {Portfolio, 1895), with its very service-able illustrations. Finally, the beginning of the year 1896 saw the knowledgeof Japanese wood-engraving enter on a fresh and presumablyfinal phase by the publication of Fenollosas exhaustive Cata-logue of the " Masters of Ukiyoye " Exhibition in New York, awork which combines mastery of the materials with artistic fullfreedom, vigour of style, and the minutest penetration intoevery detail. This catalogue, which expressly excludes allhistorical information, comprises a description of some 400selected wood-engravings, arranged in their presumable chrono-
  49. 49. Vever Collection, Paris^^^e^-t^te iolht^vrhousr V^,."™.^- °" "^^ ^ " ^"""S "-" ^ -"^-ted from the
  50. 50. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 25logical order, together with some fifty paintings by the sameartists, which are inserted scheme of development; it in thisdetermines in effect —what no one had hitherto succeeded in —doing the time-limits within which each artist worked, thechanges which the style of each underwent, and lastly, basedon these special investigations, the main periods in the develop-ment of Japanese wood-engraving as a whole from about 1675to 1850. All this is set down with such convincing luciditythat for the future nothing more than corrections of minordetail need be looked for ; the history of Japanese wood-en-graving in all its ramifications stands so compactly built up thatwe might think ourselves fortunate if we had an equally goodfoundation for even a single period of European art-history — inwhich connection it must be remembered that FenoUosa dealsnot with a small group of artists, but with hundreds, evenignoring as he does the multitude of quite insignificant wood-engravers who flourished in the nineteenth century. All thismass is here, as all competent art-history requires, already sosifted and arranged that only the comparatively small band ofchoice and leading spirits stand out above the rank and file.The confidence with which Fenollosa dates each sheet in hiscatalogue within the limits of a single year may seem surprisingbut we must take into consideration as he himself remarks —and is bound to remark as an experienced investigator —thatthe date in each case is only approximate, since there is no suchthing as absolute certainty in things artistic, however fully aman may be convinced that his opinion is correct. Moreover,these exact dates have not been arrived at, as might at firstappear to be the case, simply by comparing the styles of thevarious sheets ; Fenollosa must surely have taken the traditionaldates of the various artists into consideration —no small assist-ance, as it happens, since fortunately most Japanese woodcutsare signed with the artists name, while the certainly dated