Chapter II

A survey of the history of Japanese painting

Since Japanese wood-engraving grew out of Japanese painting and represents no more than one stage, though a peculiar stage, of development of this branch of art, it is necessary to give a short survey of the history of Japanese painting.

The art of painting, like all the other arts, poetry and science, found its way to Japan from China, the mother-country of East-Asiatic culture, through Korea, about the fifth century after Christ. Until then Japan had been sunk in deep barbarism, but being a powerful and advancing State she had, in the third century a.d., exacted tribute from Korea, which was saturated with Chinese culture. The Japanese received from Korea, along with other accomplishments and handicrafts, the art of painting. In the second half of the fifth century there came to the court of Japan a Chinese painter of imperial birth, by name Nanriu, who took up his abode there permanently. We also know of Korean painters of the sixth and seventh centuries who were employed at the Japanese court.[1]

These Korean painters introduced not only the Chinese tradition, but also another, destined to have an equally lasting influence upon the formation of Japanese painting—namely, the Buddhistic. This latter, as it seems, originated under late Greek influences in the north-west of India, and had found its way to Korea through Central Asia and China. Gonse had already pointed out that the earliest productions of this Buddhistic art in Japan are surprisingly like such works as the ruins of Borobudhur in Java, and especially those of Angkor in Kambodia, and are accordingly much more Indian than Chinese in character.[2] Friedrich Hirth has since then traced for us the probable path which this art-tradition took. The painter Wai-tschi I-song, whose works served the Koreans as models for their Buddhistic paintings, came from Khoten in Central Asia, where the princely court was noted for its love of art. Presumably the art which had been brought thither from India he transported to Tschang-an-fu, the capital of the seventh century, and from there it was propagated farther to Korea.[3] Buddhism was introduced into Japan in 552 and became the religion of the establishment in 624. Under the Emperor Kotoku (645-654) Japan received a constitution after the Chinese model.

To this Buddhistic, stiffly hieratic painting, there stood opposed from the start the vivacious, purely secular painting of the Chinese; but each had its own peculiar justification. Buddhistic painting, mindful of the mysteries it represented, always remained solemn and dignified, and occupied itself with the minutest elaboration and the richest ornamentation, heightened by the use of gold and brilliant colour. Chinese painting, on the contrary, being the fashionable pastime of the cultivated, followed the varying tendencies of the time and adapted itself to the tastes of different countries, preserving, however, its fundamental principle, namely, to strive for a bold, light, sure, and as far as possible individual touch. This affinity with calligraphy had the effect, not indeed of banishing colour altogether, but of making its interest for the most part

Koechlin Collection, Paris

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Kiyónaga: A Temple Festival. Eight female singers, wearing black sleeves with a yellow pattern, and a peculiar headdress, are carrying a lion. Dated 1783. Yellow and pink predominate.

subordinate, and of laying all the emphasis upon skill in giving as perfect a picture as possible with a few bold powerful strokes, that is to say, in getting the utmost effect out of the contrast of black and white. This economy of means has always remained the characteristic of Chinese painting.[4]

Although the first Japanese painter of whom we have actual knowledge, Kanaoka, does not appear until the end of the ninth century, everything points to the fact that he represents the culmination of the first great epoch of Japanese art, and not, as one might suppose, the beginning of real Japanese painting. For the little that we know of his work and of Japanese art of the preceding seventh and eighth centuries, especially of sculpture, bronze and wood-carving, suggests the conclusion that this young and vigorous nation had rapidly built up an art of its own, full of power and expression. Although, to begin with, the forms represented in painting remained at first foreign—Korean, Chinese, and Buddhistic—the contents of the representation must have been purely Japanese, corresponding to the high standard of culture that the country had achieved. Otherwise, Kanaoka would not have been able to preserve through all the succeeding ages the fame of having been the greatest Japanese painter; for it is not possible to attain to such a height by mere imitation of a foreign art. At the beginning of the ninth century, Buddhism had already been completely absorbed into the national point of view, and so was reconciled to the dominant creed of Shintoism.

To this early period, comprising the seventh and eighth centuries, which is known as the Nara period (so called after Nara, then the capital city, with its new High Street and new gates), belong the following works among others: the well-known full-length portrait of Prince Shotoku with two boys (Kokkwa, 78), which is now, however, supposed to be appreciably later; a fresco of Indian character in the Horiuji Temple; six paintings on a folding-screen, representing the "Beauties under Trees," which are Chinese in style, but already Japanese in feeling. A portrait of Kobo Daishi, a saint of the early ninth century, by the priest Gonzo, is also mentioned.

Kose no Kanaoka, as a son of that ninth century which the powerful China of the Tang dynasty influenced so profoundly, worked entirely under the spell of the Chinese, and especially of the Buddhist school. He lived from about 850–890. His teacher had been a Chinese emigrant named Gokioshi. As Kanaoka's chief work are mentioned the pictures of the Chinese sages, which he copied in 888 from Chinese originals in the palace of Kioto (whither the capital had been transferred from Nara in 794). Besides pictures of deities according to Buddhistic rules, he also painted representations from life, or from history and tradition, as well as landscapes and animals; it is reckoned as his principal merit that he enlarged the traditional scope of representation by including scenes taken from Japanese history, from heroic legend, and from the lives of celebrated priests. Gonse had alleged that only four paintings of Kanaoka's could still be traced; one of these, a kakemono belonging to the dealer Wakai of Tokio, which represents the Buddhist saint Jizo, is reproduced in his l'Art Japonais (i. 169). Fenollosa, however, considered two of these pictures to be certainly of later origin, and the remaining two doubtful; but he names three others in their stead, which in his view are to be reckoned among the very grandest creations of Japanese art, and on the basis of these he defines Kanaoka's position by a comparison with that of Phidias in Greek art.[5] In the Boston Museum are four paintings which are

R. Wagner, Berlin

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Schunchō: Women on New Year's Day. A lattice of straw and paper on the porch. In the foreground a brazier, and on it rice-cakes on a wire griddle. From a polyptych.

probably the work of "Shi Ten O" himself, also the copy of the portrait of a young prince by Kanaoka. The Hayashi collection (sold by auction in Paris in 1902) contained the seated figure of the Bodhisattva Jizo, probably that reproduced by Gonse (v. supra). Binyon[6] reproduces the beautiful full-length portrait of the minister Sugawara Michizane, which is pronouncedly Chinese in character.

But still greater renown than his paintings ever brought him accrued to Kanaoka as the founder of the first national school of Japanese painting, the Kose-riu, so called from his family name. In Japanese a sharp distinction is made between schools (riu) and styles (ye, sometimes erroneously written e or we). Schools (riu) arise through the propagation of definite methods of painting within certain families, which are further strengthened by the adoption of strangers who assume the name of the clan; in several cases (dealt with below) they have prolonged their activity through a series of centuries. Ye (community in style) is, on the contrary, a quite loose and external connection, corresponding exactly to our idea of style. Until Kanaoka's time there were, as has been said, three styles of painting—the Chinese (Kara-ye), the Korean (Korai-ye), both of which may be grouped together, and the Buddhistic (Butsu-ye). Painting was a refined pastime, indulged in by priestly and noble amateurs.[7] Kanaoka was the first, in the year 880, to found a school of professional painters which was at the same time a national school of painting; its basis was principally Buddhistic, and it stood under the influence of the Chinese Tang school. As he himself belonged to the highest nobility, so the aristocratic character was always preserved in the school or clan of painters that he founded, the Kose-riu. This holds good for all painters and schools that arose subsequently until the sixteenth century. It was not till then that one of the bourgeois succeeded in winning a name for himself; and it was not until the seventeenth century that a really popular, or, according to the Japanese ideas, plebeian school arose, of which the maturest fruit is that colour-printing to which we are about to give our attention. Kanaoka's clan was continued in his son Aimi, whose son again was Kintada; Hirotaka, Kanaoka's grandson, continued the school in the tenth century. To him is ascribed "The Death of Buddha," in the British Museum,[8] which is akin to the style of the Chinese painter Wu Tao Tze, and is remarkable for its expressiveness.

Although Chinese influence subsequently continued even down to our own century, at times in fact grew in strength, still Japanese painting must have retained its independence, as otherwise it would be inexplicable that at the end of the tenth century Japanese paintings were presented as a gift to the Chinese court, where the most exacting standards of taste had always obtained.[9] The difference between Japanese and Chinese art methods is brought out by the discerning Le Blanc du Vernet, in a small work that appeared anonymously, Le Japon artistique et littéraire (p. 11), where he remarks that, while the art of the cool and sceptical Chinese was usually methodical, exact, dainty, and "precious," that of the Japanese, corresponding to their character, had become in all respects free, lively, cheerful, and full of variety. We must emphasise, he says, the fact that Japanese art did not fall into slavish imitation, but that it took over from the art of the Celestial empire only experience, method, and technique, and by applying these to national subjects, developed an independent style that possessed more elegance, creative power, mobility, and pliancy than did that of the "Celestials." Yeshin Sozu, who died in 1017 at the age of seventy-six, is mentioned as one of the most remarkable Buddhistic painters of this period.


(Three-colour print)
British Museum

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But it was not until the beginning of the eleventh century, when Japan was beginning to seclude itself from the foreigner, that the Japanese method of painting seems to have freed itself definitely from the Chinese. For the Kasuga school, which now succeeded the moribund Kose school, is also noticed as the founder of the Yamato-ye, or Japanese style, which then found its most conspicuous propagator in the great Tosa school, which flourished in the twelfth century. This style received its name, Yamato, from the contemporary name of Japan. In those days, during the Haian period (794–1186), synchronising in essentials with the Fujiwara period (870–1130), which derives its name from the family which possessed the hereditary monarchy since 669, the Japanese gave themselves up unrestrainedly to the pleasures of life, and their morals suffered grievously in consequence.

The founder of the Kasuga school at the time mentioned was the painter Motomitsu, a pupil of Kose Kimmochi, one of the last representatives of the Kose school. Burty traces back the designation "Kasuga school" to the temple of the same name at Nara, which temple, it is said, was from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries furnished with paintings by Takachika and his successors.[10] Burty mentions the Takuma school as another fairly contemporaneous school, which flourished from the eleventh to the fourteenth century.

Not indeed a school, but a particular branch of painting, that called Toba-ye, or the Comic, was founded in the twelfth century by a Buddhist priest of high mark, Ko Kuyu, called Toba Sojo, who died in 1140, and is supposed to have been the first to draw caricatures. Bing praises their liveliness and modern spirit. Fenollosa observes, however, that these humorous sketches are not necessarily to be considered as his pre-eminent work, for he is said to have painted some very beautiful things in the Buddhistic style.[11]

The fierce contests which were fought out during the twelfth century between the noble families of Minamoto (Genji) and Taira (Heike), and which ended in its concluding years with the elevation of Minamoto no Yoritomo to the Shogunate (Generalissimoship), brought about a noteworthy change in art: the Kasuga school was succeeded, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, by the Tosa school, which was destined to long activity and profound influence, and whose significance, as chief representative of the national Japanese style, the Yamato-ye, became especially conspicuous when, in the fifteenth century, the influence of Chinese style reasserted itself with renewed strength, and led to the founding of the Kano school, equally eminent, but pursuing other aims. The Tosa school represented courtly art, which had its centre in the imperial residence at Kioto, in the middle of Japan, whereas the Shogun, who at the end of the civil war had achieved independence, had set up his residence first in Kamakura in the Kuanto, then in Yedo, the present Tokio, on the south-east coast. The period is thence known as the Kamakura period (1181–1333). During it feudalism developed itself, the Samurai, hitherto the warrior caste, rising to be the caste of nobility. It was particularly on the makimonos, long horizontal rolls with many figures, as also on screens and in gift-books, that this school depicted, with the delicacy and minuteness of a miniature, those historical scenes from the battles of the Fujiwara, Minamoto, and Taira, from court festivals and the life of chivalry, which may be taken as the faithful expression of national Japanese feeling. Such pictures, with their brilliant colouring of vermilion, blue, and green, standing out from a background of gold, give an

Bing Collection, Paris

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Shumman: A Young Man as Narihira and a Geisha. Granulated background.
Surimono in delicate lilac tones.

opulent representation of the life of that time. Especial weight was given to the true and accurate rendering of the court ceremonial costumes; but, although the motions of the persons portrayed, as the refined etiquette of the court required, were represented as serious, grave, and dignified, this art never degenerated into pettiness, but always maintained its broad decorative character. The fact that the vertical picture, or kakemono, which makes a more independent appeal, was more rarely used in this period would seem to indicate the beginning of a decline, and accordingly Fenollosa conceives of the whole Tosa school as a revolt from the robuster style of Kanaoka.

The founder of the school, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, was Fujiwara no Tsunetaka, who as Director of Fine Arts bore the title Tosagon no Kami.[12] Other artists of this school are Fujiwara Mitsunaga, whose makimonos are full of movement; also Fujiwara Takanobu, and his son, Nobuzane (1177–1265), who in 1221 painted the picture of the poet Hitomaro, and one of whose pictures, a beautiful study of the saint Kobo Daishi as a boy, is reproduced by Binyon (pl. 6). Keion is mentioned as the founder of a special school, the Sumiyoshi-riu, which lasted into the eighteenth century. In consequence of renewed civil wars, a certain decline seems to have taken place in the second half of the thirteenth century; this decline continued into the fifteenth century, though there still remain for the fourteenth century a number of eminent names, especially Tosa Yoshimitsu. In 1274 came the invasion of the Mongols under Khubla Khan; in 1334 the Hodjo were overthrown by the Ashikaga, and the Ashikaga Shoguns ruled from that date until 1573.

In the beginning of the fifteenth century came the revival of Japanese art by the influence of China. The Buddhist priest, Chodensu, who in 1409 painted his famous picture of the death of Buddha, is by Anderson compared with his contemporary Angelico, but from Fenollosa's description he must have represented rather a revival of the powerful style of Kanaoka. He died in the year 1427, at the age of seventy-six. His masterpiece, the priest Shoichi Kokushi seated, is reproduced in Tajima's work, vol. vi.; a shoki as devil-queller in Binyon (pl. 13). His contemporary, Josetsu, according to some a Chinese priest, according to others at any rate educated in China, developed a still more enduring activity by establishing a school for painting in Kioto, by which the Chinese style was again brought into repute and from which proceeded a series of the most important painters, such as Soga Shubun, Sesshu, and Kano Masanobu. Josetsu himself painted principally landscapes of delicate execution, but not in accordance with the style then prevailing in China, which flourished afresh under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), but in that of the remote Sung period (960–1278), the productions of which, even in China itself, are still counted as unsurpassable models. Nen Kawo, who worked about the middle of the fourteenth century, is mentioned as a predecessor of Chodensu and Josetsu.[13]

Josetsu's pupil, Soga Shubun, a Chinaman naturalised in Japan, painted landscapes, figures, birds, and flowers in the style of his master; as a painter he is perhaps more remarkable than Josetsu, and more especially in landscape painting, he occupies one of the first places in the history of Japanese art. His works are chiefly executed in Indian ink and lightly tinted. Anderson[14] gives a reproduction of one of his landscapes. Among his pupils we may mention Sotan. Of still greater importance

Bing Collection, Paris

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Shunzan: Dance of four Geishas, two disguised as Monkeys. Pink predominates.

is Sesshu, very likely a pupil of Shubun. He lived from 1420 to 1507, acquired about 1460 the art of painting in China itself, and then established himself in 1469 in the temple Unkokuji. He is universally extolled as the greatest artist of Japanese antiquity. He also is distinguished for his landscapes, one of which Gonse (i. 194) has reproduced. Binyon (pl. 14) reproduces "Jurojin, the Genius of Old Age," by Sesshu, drawn in the manner of the classic period. According to Chinese custom, he used chiefly Indian ink which he laid on with a bold brush, and only occasionally enlivened his work by the addition of a little colour. However productive as a painter, he is chiefly distinguished for the number of pupils he trained, a number never equalled by any artist before or since. One of his pupils was Shugetsu, from whom Gonse (i. 194) has reproduced a crow, which, however, is, according to Fenollosa, hardly a hundred years old. Anderson (pl. 18) reproduces a picture of an Indian priest, which makes a very favourable impression. The third important painter of this Chinese school founded by Josetsu, is Kano Masanobu (1453–1490), a scion of the Fujiwara stock; he was especially influenced by Sesshu, but did not equal his master in originality; on the other hand, he made an extensive reputation for himself by the foundation of the Kano school, which was destined to a long period of activity. One of his landscapes is reproduced by Anderson.[15] Mention must be made of Sesson as an admirable landscape-painter of the period, in the Chinese impressionist style. Binyon (pl. 15) reproduces one of his landscapes, executed in Indian ink.

The foundation of the Kano school, upholding the Chinese style, in the second half of the fifteenth century, was an event closely connected with the political development of the country. Whereas the court of the Mikado in Kioto, and with it the courtly and national Tosa school, was gradually being thrust into the background, the reputation of the Shoguns was continually in the ascendant, they being in very close touch with China, then flourishing anew under the Ming dynasty. It was, therefore, quite natural that the school which was principally influenced by the Chinese should have its stronghold and support near the seat of the Shoguns in Yedo. This statement holds especially for the Kano school, which, as the acknowledged representative of the art favoured by the Shoguns, stood in opposition to the Tosa school, which was favoured by the imperial court, an opposition by no means hostile indeed, but sharp enough to stir the keenest rivalry on both sides. In contrast with the subtler method of the older school, which laid special stress on splendour of colouring, the newly arisen Kano school gave eloquent expression to the daring spirit of youth that reigned in the entourage of the Shoguns by the force and sublimity of its style, qualities to which its calligraphic black-and-white technique after the Chinese model naturally tended. Although there existed, as Duret well expresses it, the same reverential admiration in Japan toward the Chinese as was formerly shown by the Romans for the Greeks, yet the Japanese painters descended to no slavish dependence upon China, but constantly renewed, out of their lively love of Nature, their powers of new and original creation.

It is accounted the especial merit of Kano Motonobu, the second great master of this school, and the eldest son of Masanobu, that he not only represented scenes of court and heroic life, but also characters from daily life. He lived from 1476 to 1559. Although not quite the equal of his father, he attained lasting fame by giving to the Kano school a coherent academic organisation. Indeed, he is recognised as the true classic of the school, and when he received the honourable title of Ko-Hogen in his old age, was regarded with almost idolatrous reverence. The means he employed

Vever Collection, Paris

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Yeishi: A Tea-house by a River. A young man seated: a singer with long sleeves; three attendants, one of whom is catching fish under the mon (gate). Part of a triptych.

were extremely simple and the treatment of his subject not very elaborate, but along with all his swift and bold sketchiness his work remained always powerful and stimulating. It was not so much his peculiar manner, which was no more than the ancient Chinese manner in general, as the individuality and distinction of his creations, that secured him his position in the school. Although he was esteemed perfect in all branches of pictorial representation, yet it was his landscapes that enjoyed the highest renown. Anderson[16] reproduces one of his "Eight Immortals" as well as "Tieh Kwai." Masanobu's brother, Utanosuke, was one of the greatest bird and flower painters.[17]

Through his alliance with a daughter of Mitsushige, at that time head of the Tosa school, Motonobu established a connection between the two rival schools, but with no new result. Each of the two schools maintained its individual character. This competition with the newly flourishing Chinese school had a good effect upon the Tosa school, which had been merely marking time. It was especially through Mitsunobu, the father of the above-mentioned Mitsushige, that new life was given to this school in the second half of the fifteenth century. His delicately outlined drawings enabled him to take up the challenge of the Kano school successfully.

From this Tosa school, towards the end of the sixteenth century, issued the artist who was the true founder of the popular genre-pictures which hitherto had been only occasionally cultivated—Iwasa Matahei, who lived from 1578 to 1650. He was the father of that national school which later found its chief expression in wood-engraving, and brought this form of art to full development and general diffusion. He began by being a pupil of Tosa Mitsunori, but later went over to the Kano school, and created for himself, about the year 1620 (according to Fenollosa), an individual style marked by expressive design and lofty grace; finally, in 1630, he entered upon a thoroughly realistic phase, which, by the force of its decorative effect and the careful elaboration of details, established a model never again attained in later years. From the popular or worldly nature of his subjects he received the epithet, Ukiyo (painter of the fleeting world), which was then transferred to this entire class of work as the popular style, the Ukiyo-ye, under which the whole school of wood-engraving is usually comprehended. Though Matahei himself was the first Japanese painter of non-noble descent, his creations were by no means of a common kind; on the contrary, that which made him celebrated was not so much the subjects that he chose, but rather, as in the case of the other eminent artists of his time, his creative gifts, the power, the individuality, the elevation, and the finish of his style.[18] It is true that no paintings exist which can with certainty be assigned to him: Professor Oeder possesses a very beautiful representation of a dancing girl; Binyon (pl. 24) reproduces another dancing girl, but this seems very doubtful. Fenollosa[19] reproduces a dancing and singing old man, painted about 1640-50, after Masatoshi, the son of Matahei.

Another incentive to progress was applied to the Kano school in the second half of the sixteenth century under the great Shogun, Hideyoshi (the Taigo), whose work was completed by his successor, Iyeyasu, the victor in the battle of Sekigahara, in 1600, and the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty. Nobunaga had overthrown the Ashikaga in 1574. On his death in 1582 he was succeeded by Hideyoshi, under whom the invasion of Korea by the Japanese took place (1592-98). In 1604 Iyeyasu followed him in the shogunate. We owe it to the influence of these two men that the ancient works of art were

Royal Print Room, Dresden

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Utámaro: A Walk at Low Tide. From the "Shell Book." Diptych. Vivid colours.

collected, that Japanese ceramic attained its culmination, and that the castles of the gentlefolk were ornamented with rich mural decoration. Kano Yeitoku, the grandson of Motonobu, who died at the age of forty-eight, towards the end of the sixteenth century, deserves especial mention. He was the creator of a great decorative style, and was the first to use gold-leaf in large quantity for backgrounds, especially in his folding screens; he ranks, according to Fenollosa, as the last great representative of the Kano school, being hardly inferior to Motonobu, and indeed almost the greatest of Japanese painters. Binyon (pl. 21) reproduces a winter landscape by him. His method was carried on by his son-in-law, Kano Senraku, as also by his sons, Mitsunobu and Takanobu. Binyon (pl. 22) gives a wash-landscape in the Chinese style by a pupil of Senraku, Sansetsu (died 1652). Takanobu had three sons distinguished as painters—Morinobu, also called Tanyu, Naonobu, and Yasunobu.[20]

Tanyu, who lived from 1601 to 1675, and is regarded as the founder of a special branch of the school, tried to unify the endeavours of the ancients and to quicken them into new life. More notable for the originality of his creations than for careful execution, he painted in a style which stands midway between that of Sesshu and Motonobu, seldom using colours; but he was lacking in the power and originality necessary to create a new style. His representation of Fuji, in which only small quantities of green and blue were made use of, was particularly famous. Prints after his drawings were published in the collection Gwako senran. Binyon (pl. 23) reproduces one of his pictures. Gonse (i. 213) gives a sketch by him, and Anderson[21] a print. From Naonobu, the younger brother of Tanyu, Gonse reproduces a hare (i. 234). A landscape by Yasunobu, the third of the brothers, is reproduced by Anderson.[22] Tsunenobu, the son of Naonobu, Fenollosa calls a tolerable imitator of Tanyu. The Tosa school, for its part, produced in the seventeenth century, as its last representative worth mentioning, Mitsuoki, the grandson of Mitsunobu, whom Fenollosa considers a fair but rather feeble painter, and whose best work is in his flower-pieces. Mitsuoki's great-grandson, Mitsuyoshi, continued his manner in the eighteenth century.

This entire art of the seventeenth century is characterised by Fenollosa as the art of a period of decadence. Only four great artists, like oases, appear conspicuous—Sansetsu, Sotatsu, Itcho, and Korin. We will quote in his own words his description of the spiritual conditions then obtaining:—

"On the other hand, in the seventeenth century, the Japanese mind fell largely into indolence and triviality. There was no healthy outlet for greatness under the crushing despotic political system. Society was occupied with innumerable formalisms and petty conceits. What had once been the living rules and ideals of living heroes dwindled away into romantic traditions and unreal affectations. It was then that the Japanese learned to be dissipated and deceitful. Puppet-shows and cock-fights and courtesans and midnight escapades now absorbed the energies of the young bloods whose grandfathers had conquered Corea. The art of this period reflects truly the character of the times. The greater part of it is taken up with representations of the famous public women of the day, of actors and jugglers and drunken gentlemen and beastly obscenities; with irreverent caricatures of gods, the gloss and glitter of fine garments, trivial half-minute sketches which drove wild the shallow-pated bibbers of tea, and old Chinese designs in their twentieth dilution to suit the delicate taste of the age. No doubt the Yedo despots were well pleased to see the dear people so happy and contented with their innocent amusements. There are, of course, many delightful and some new characteristics of the art of this epoch;

Vever Collection, Paris

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Utámoro: Women on a Bridge on a Summer Evening. To the left two ladies of rank with an attendant. Triptych in violet, black, yellow, and green, with a little red.

but it has a decided childishness and insincerity about it. The spiritual element has all fled; and the materialistic gaiety which remains can never be mistaken for true artistic inspiration."[23]

Of the four artists who constitute exceptions, Sansetsu (see above) is the last representative of the old Kano school, according to Fenollosa really an anachronism in the seventeenth century, as his style belongs wholly to the sixteenth. Sotatsu, who, after Utanosuke, is the greatest flower-painter of Japan and one of the greatest colourists of his country, was Korin's teacher and even more gifted than he. He is already breaking with the linear style, and inclines to renderings by pure brushwork. A picture of a group of chrysanthemums may be found in Binyon (pl. 25). Hanabusa Itcho, of Yedo (1651–1724), a pupil of Kano Yasunobu, was also one of the greatest colourists of this school, and distinguished himself, as Tanyu did, by his original representations of scenes from popular life; a list of reproductions after his drawings will be given in the next chapter. Anderson gives a reproduction after him in his Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 9. Lastly, Korin, the celebrated lacquer-painter, who lived from 1660 to 1716, came of a middle-class family, by name Ogata, in Kioto, spent a part of his life in Yedo, and then returned to his native town, where he remained till his death. He was a pupil of Sotatsu, but Tsunenobu and Yasunobu are also mentioned as having been his teachers. Thanks to the largeness and originality of his style, he has become the best known among Japanese painters, and fully deserves his high repute by virtue of the force of his creations, which stamp themselves ineffaceably upon the memory and remind us of the works of the remote primitives, though without ever imitating them. The peculiar position that he occupies, as the greatest and boldest of the Japanese impressionists, has been excellently appreciated by Gonse in his L'Art Japonais. He may, indeed, not unreasonably be called the most peculiarly Japanese of all the painters; certainly he is excelled by none in expressiveness. A reproduction of one of his flower-pictures is given by Anderson,[24] and one of his bird-pictures in Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 8. The screen representing a troubled sea, given by Binyon (pl. 26), seems too heavy and mechanically regular to be his work. His numerous sketches of plants and animals, treated quite broadly and for the most part relieved with very little colour, were admirably reproduced by Hoitsu in facsimile woodcuts at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A list of these reproductions will be given in the next chapter. One of his chief titles to fame is his lacquer-work inlaid with mother-of-pearl and lead. Korin's brother, Kenzan, made himself especially famous for original and highly artistic decorations of faïence. Another teacher of Korin, Koyetsu, the friend of Sotatsu, already forms a transition to those artists who drew directly for wood-prints; though Fenollosa appreciates his taste highly, still he does not reckon him among the great painters of Japan, esteeming him only a dilettante. The book, Sanju rokkasen, the Six-and-thirty Poets (Gillot Catalogue), is by him; his chief activity likewise lay in lacquer-work. The other painters who drew for wood-engraving, beginning with Hishikawa Moronobu, will be treated in connection with this particular technique.

These decorative artists, who, however, according to Japanese ideas, were by no means sharply distinguished from those that represented loftier subjects, are characteristic of a period in which luxury had attained its highest point. The women, for instance, did not shrink from the labour of changing their dresses several times a day. Similar conditions obtained with regard to objects used by the male population.

Vever Collection, Paris

A history of Japanese colour-prints by W. von Seidlitz - Page 123.png
Utámoro: Kintoki with the Mountain-woman, Yamáuba, who offers him a Bunch of Chestnuts. Yellowish background. Large.

We must especially note, in the second half of the eighteenth century, the founding of the naturalistic Shijo school, whose name is derived from the fourth street of Kioto. Maruyama Okio (1733–1795), an artist who followed first the ancient Japanese, then the Chinese style, and who had settled at Kioto during the height of his fame (about 1772–1789), became its founder. He drew principally from nature. Some reproductions of animal paintings after him are given by Anderson.[25] He did not draw for wood-engraving, but copies of drawings by him appeared in 1837 in the Eno (?) gwafu and in 1851 in the Okio gwafu. Another notable representative of this tendency is Mori Sosen (1746–1821), who distinguished himself especially in his renderings of animals, and particularly monkeys. Some of these are reproduced by Anderson,[26] by Gonse,[27] and by Binyon (pl. 29). His work is already degenerating into excessive delicacy. A purely Chinese school was founded by Okio's most notable rival, Ganku (1749–1838), by basing his style upon that of the masters of the Sung dynasty. He was one of the best painters of modern times, and was noted for his delineations of tigers; an admirable example of these is to be found in Binyon (pl. 28). Lastly, Shirai Naokata was celebrated for his depiction of mice. With the end of the eighteenth century, however, about 1780, European influences began to make themselves felt here and there; and in connection with the increasing impotence of Japanese art, brought about its gradual decline in the nineteenth century. In the same century Yosai (1787–1878), who also worked as a wood-engraver, deserves passing mention.

  1. Gierke, p.11; Anderson, Transact., p. 339 ff.
  2. Gonse, i. 166.
  3. F. Hirth, Über fremde Einflüsse in der chinesischen Kunst, p. 46.
  4. Bing in the Revue blanche (1896), p. 164. Binyon, Painting in the Far East (1908).
  5. Anderson, Transact., p. 342 f.; the same, Cat., p. xv.; Gierke, p. 12; Gonse in Cat. of Jap. Ex. at Paris, 1883; Fenollosa, Review (1885), p. 9 ff.
  6. Painting in the Far East, frontispiece.
  7. Gierke, p. 23.c
  8. Binyon, pl. 5.
  9. Hirth, Fremde Einflüsse, p. 73.
  10. Cat. Burty, p. xvi.; not so Gierke, p. 23; cf. Anderson, Transact., p. 344.
  11. Bing, in the Revue blanche (1896), p. 166; Fenollosa, Review, p. 13; Anderson, Transact., p. 345.
  12. Thence Le Blanc du Vernet (Le Japon artistique et littéraire, p. 28) deduces the name of the school; otherwise Gierke, p. 14 f.; cf. Anderson, Transact., p. 346; Fenollosa, Review, pp. 9, 13 f.; Cat. Burty, p. 3; Appert, p. 142.
  13. Anderson, Transact., p. 346 ff.; the same, Cat., pp. 21, 263, 274; Fenollosa, Review, p. 16 ff.; Gierke, p. 15 f.; Cat. Burty, p. 15.
  14. Pictorial Arts, pl. 14.
  15. Pictorial Arts, pl. 19. See also Binyon, pl. 16.
  16. Pictorial Arts, pls. 20 and 43.
  17. Binyon, pl. 17.
  18. Fenollosa, Review, p. 30 ff.; the same, Cat., No. 1; Anderson Cat., p. 328; Binyon also spells his name Matabei, to distinguish him from another, lesser, Matahei.
  19. Outline, pl. 1.
  20. Anderson, Transct. p. 353 ff.; Gierk, p.17 ff.
  21. Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 17.
  22. Pictorial Arts, pl. 24.
  23. Fenollosa, Review, p. 28. For the following, see the same, pp. 29, 33 ff.; Anderson, Transact., p. 355 f.; Brinckmann, p. 192 ff.
  24. Pictorial Arts, i. 67.
  25. Pictorial Arts, pls. 29 and 30.
  26. Ibid., pls. 31, 42, and 68.
  27. L'Art Japonais, i. 234, 242.