A History of Japanese Colour-Prints/THE BEGINNING OF WOOD-ENGRAVING—BLACK AND WHITE (1582-1743)

Chapter III

The Beginning of Wood-Engraving—Black and White (1582–1743)

1. General Considerations—2. Moronobu and his Contemporaries—3. The first Torii and Masanobu—4. Book-Illustration in the first half of the eighteenth century

1. General Considerations.—Those who are not well informed on the history of Japanese wood-engraving, and whose ideas are formed only from chance prints that they may have seen, will generally suppose that we are here speaking of an art which flourished especially in the nineteenth century, and that Hokusai, of whom most is heard, is its chief representative. But this point of view, which has prevailed quite long enough, and which has been encouraged by the over-estimation of Hokusai even on the part of the better informed, may now be considered as abandoned, thanks to the continued efforts of Fenollosa. As in so many other branches of the history of art, so also in the art of Japan, a theory is beginning to make headway to the effect that its heroic age was not merely a time of preparation, but rather the actual high-water mark of the whole movement, and that all subsequent to it constituted only the development of the original germs, without adding anything essentially new, without even attaining the power of those first periods. In a history of the Japanese woodcut, accordingly, the chief centre of interest is the development of the eighteenth century; and this period must in turn R. Wagner, Berlin

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UTÁMARO: Fisherwoman on the Sea-shore. The one on the right holds an implement for opening shell-fish in her mouth; an attendant beside her. Draperies red, ground green, waves blue. The contours of the naked bodies reddish brown. Triptych.

be considered as the outcome of that great art which had been created in the seventeenth century by the painters of the popular school. Therefore, we are not to regard as its highest achievements those products of wood-engraving which most resemble European art, which challenge comparison with European productions, and hence are easiest for us to understand, but those which by virtue of their calligraphic and decorative character approach most nearly to the Japanese ideal of artistic greatness, dignity, and elegance, and at the same time attest the greatest individuality and creative power. This holds good especially of the work of two artists: Moronobu, the founder of the genus at the end of the seventeenth century, and Kiyonaga, the consummate master thereof, who at the end of the eighteenth century concentrated all the aims of this art up to that time into a carefully considered and in its kind perfect whole, not only as regards composition and colour, but also drawing and expression. These two will form the cardinal points of the following history. For it is due to their activity that this whole species of art, which, owing to its easy production and reproduction, was especially fitted to bring the sense for artistic enjoyment into the poorest homes, did not, on the other hand, succumb to the obvious perils of its familiarity with actors, courtesans, and low society, and degenerate into the farcical and vulgar, but remained worthy of the attention of intellectual and artistically cultivated circles.

Before outlining here the main features of the development of the Japanese woodcut, it is necessary to glance at the development of wood-engraving before it attained to actual independence. Wood-blocks for printing off written characters were used as early as the eighth century, but for pictorial representations not until the twelfth century, while no such prints earlier than the fourteenth century are actually traceable. A series signed with the name of the priest Riokin, for instance, bears a date of the year 1325;[1] a denjio daishi (figure of Buddha), which, according to the inscription, was cut about the year 1400, reproduces a painting of the founders of the monastery of Heiyan (about 800 a.d.)—the Buddha stands on a lotus flower over a rock, and his outlines are well executed (Jaekel Collection in Greifswald, black and white). Indeed many of these monastic woodcuts are notable for their delicacy of contour. This industry was intended for the edification of pious pilgrims, by turning out cheap copies of famous temple pictures.

The beginnings of wood-engraving proper, which took the shape of book-illustrations, are connected, like the revival of painting and the rise of the popular Ukiyoye school towards the end of the sixteenth century, with the revolution caused by the rise of the Shogunate at this time. The more elevated standard of popular education, combined with the enforced leisure to which the nobles saw themselves reduced after they had lost their political power to the Shoguns, created a large demand for entertainment by romances of chivalry and stage plays, which was assiduously catered for by the popular authors; and the popular draughtsmen were not slow to decorate such productions with illustrations, which were multiplied in simple outline by means of wood-engraving.

The earliest known illustrated book is the Butsu y wo kyo (the book of the Buddhist Canon or the Ten Kings of Hell), published in 1582, which is an exact reprint of a Chinese work.[2] Here, therefore, as elsewhere, China supplied the model for the new branch of art. It is embellished with rather coarse woodcuts.[3] Another work which goes back to the sixteenth century, Tengu dairi (the World of Tengus, i.e. monsters), in three Koechlin Collection, Paris

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Sharáku: An Actor in the Costume of a Noble. (Yebóshi, a cap with a band across the forehead; nagabákama, a long underdress, enveloping the feet.) Medium size.
volumes, contains thirteen simple outline illustrations (Gillot Catalogue).

Next, in 1608, appeared a collection of romances of love and chivalry, composed in the tenth century, known by the title of Ise Monogatari, and now first embellished with woodcut illustrations, forty-eight in number.[4] So early as 1610 a second edition of this work appeared. The pictures, in the style of the Tosa school, are still quite conventional, and display but slight effort at individualisation; the cutting imitates the Chinese method and is handled with but moderate care.[5] In 1626 appeared the Hogen Monogatari, with still cruder woodcuts. Neither is the Jokio Hiden of 1629, a school book for girls, any better. Another book to appear in 1626 was the Maiji Monogatari, two volumes, in the manner of the Tosa school, coloured (Duret Catalogue, as also the following). Takatachi appeared about 1630, and Nichiren shonin chugwasan, stories from the life of the priest Nichiren, with eighty-nine pictures, in 1632 (Gillot Catalogue).

The following may be mentioned as belonging to the end of the seventeenth century: the illustrations by Hasegawa Toun in the Yehon Hokan, a collection of legends of the year 1688; those by Ishikawa Riusen in the Yamato Kosaku gwasho, an annual of Japanese customs, about the same time; collections of views, as for example of Itsukushima and environs, in 1689; Tokiwagi, a collection of cloth patterns, in 1700; also works on the arrangement of flowers, on uniforms, on sword-blades, all illustrated. In all these books the text, as well as the illustrations, is cut on the block. In fact, printing with movable characters can be shown to have existed in Japan only for a short time, from the end of the sixteenth century to about 1629, and even then only as an exception, probably to be traced to the immediate initiative of the contemporary Shoguns, who were interested in all artistic progress. It was not until the nineteenth century that the custom of printing books with movable characters was revived.[6]

Side by side with these we find, at an early date, the illustrated sheets (broadsides), which merely catered for a popular demand, and must not be brought into immediate connection with the later artistic wood-engravings. The Jaekel Collection in Greifswald contains a single-sheet print in large folio of the year 1615, in black and white, representing the overthrow of Hideyori and the burning of his castle in Osaka, with small but well-drawn and spirited figures. In the same collection is a battle-picture with the names of the commanders, &c., intended for a fan. Somewhat later court scenes were represented in a style which already marks the transition to that of Moronobu and which are coloured, especially the faces, with body-colour, quite after the manner of the contemporary miniatures, being thus meant as substitutes for these miniatures, as they were easier, and therefore cheaper, to produce. Specimens are to be found in the Jaekel Collection. To this style also belongs a large broadside folio sheet by Baisetsudo (Jaekel Collection), done soon after 1700, a very spirited rendering of the eight views of Nara.

The illustrated books, whose first appearance dates from the sixties of the seventeenth century, already show greater powers of representation, and prepare us for the development which was brought about by the activity of Moronobu and which elevated the Japanese woodcut to the level of a true work of art. As specimens of this transition period we may, following Duret, instance: Soga monogatari, 1663, twelve volumes with 102 pictures (a new edition in 1704); Eiri valkakusa monogatari (Yedo, 1667), three volumes. With the creation at Royal Print Room, Dresden

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TOYÓKUNI: A Young Lady with her little Sister and a Friend walking on a Bridge late on a Summer Evening. Wild geese on the wing.
this time of a true theatre, which had developed from the old puppet-shows, is connected the fact that since 1677 little plays were being printed, which in turn soon attracted illustrators. Fenollosa[7] a draws attention to the otsuyé, slight sketches produced in great quantities for popular consumption, as being precursors of the artistic single-sheet print which began to be developed in the last decades of the seventeenth century. The otsuyé came into special vogue about the years 1630-40 and continued to be popular until about 1730. This popular art of Ukiyoye had first developed on Matahei's initiative in the Shijo school of Kioto, where it continued to be a living art far into the nineteenth century; but it had been transferred to the new capital city of Yedo as well, since the last decades of the seventeenth century, and it was there that it actually attained its greatest perfection.

Japanese wood-engraving owes its rise to truly artistic heights to the influence of Moronobu, whose most important work was done between 1675 and 1695, and whose numerous illustrations, composed after the style of the Tosa school, but freshly and vividly conceived, set an example which exerted an influence as late as the middle of the eighteenth century. Among his numerous followers, who cultivated more and more the artistic single-sheet print, was Masanobu, who lived until the middle of the eighteenth century, and distinguished himself as the first to imbue his designs with a gentle and delicate charm which may be best compared with the spirit of the rococo style then prevailing in Europe, and which continued to be a characteristic feature of Japanese style. Torii Kiyonobu, however, is noted for his foundation of the Torii school, which lasted through the eighteenth century, and the achievements of which in effective drawing and decorative balancing of black and white masses remained unequalled. Occasional sheets by Moronobu show an as yet monotonous and heavy hand-colouring, which became the rule for single-sheet prints from about the year 1715 onwards, increasing in variety until about 1743, when Shigenaga and Masanobu, and then gradually all other artists, began to apply themselves to the production of colour-prints, which consisted at first of only two blocks, usually of green and red. At length, towards the end of the fifties, this same Shigenaga, and along with him especially Torii Kiyomitsu, added a third block for blue or grey. Shigenaga's pupil, however, the inventive and graceful Harunobu, introduced, about 1765, the principle of printing colour-blocks over each other; henceforward colour-printing was freed from all restrictions whether as to the number of the blocks or possible colour effects, and the road that was destined to lead to the highest triumphs of the colour-printing art was clear of every obstacle. The right moment had now come for Shunsho with his numerous school, for Kiyonaga and for Utamaro, who in the closing third of the eighteenth century brought Japanese wood-engraving to its full development. Hokusai, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was the last of the great artists of this line. Out of the multitude of the artists who follow, still for the most part admirably trained but lacking in dignity and precision, Hiroshige, with his subtly subjective landscapes, alone stands out conspicuously.[8]

A comparison of the development of wood-engraving in Europe will show that events took a very similar course in the East and the West. In Europe wood-engraving was invented towards the end of the fourteenth century. For more than fifty years its use remained confined to single sheets, principally pictures, with the occasional addition of a name or a few lines of text engraved on the same block. Soon after the invention of printing with type, about the middle of the fifteenth century,

British Museum

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the first wood-block prints (block-books) appeared, which united both text and pictures, in imitation of the popular illustrated manuscripts. In the beginning of the seventh decade of the same century, separate woodcuts were inserted as illustrations in books printed with movable types. From these unpretentious outline-drawings, serving chiefly as a basis for colouring, there were gradually evolved by the efforts of independent artists, especially Dürer, compositions completely elaborated in light and shade, and therefore able to dispense with colour. Wood-engraving was now ready to take the field, like copper-engraving, in the shape of single-sheet prints, and to make its way into the ranks of the people; nevertheless, some time elapsed before any one ventured on the production of coloured plates. It was not until 1506 that Cranach's "Venus" appeared; in 1508 Burgkmair produced his equestrian figures of St. George and the Emperor Maximilian; Ugo da Carpi soon followed in Venice with his chiaroscuro prints. But this method did not go beyond tinted sheets, and it was only occasionally employed. True polychrome woodcuts were first produced as late as the end of the eighteenth century by Gubitz, but found no wide or permanent circulation.

In both cases, therefore, the technique of wood-engraving grew out of the necessity of producing, in large quantity and with little effort, devotional pictures for the pious pilgrims to holy shrines; was then applied to the illustration of books; gradually won for itself an independent position by the side of the productions of the painting art; and finally, since the invention of colour-printing, even entered into a kind of competition with painting. While, then, in both countries, about the same space of time (somewhat more than a century) was required for wood-engraving to pass through the various stages of evolution during which it served mainly as a basis for subsequent colouring by hand, the polychrome print, in its final development, attained in Japan a far greater significance than ever fell to its lot in Europe. It is in the high perfection of just this branch of artistic reproduction, attained in no other land and no other period, that the chief value of Japanese wood-engraving lies.

Before we enter in detail upon the history of this development, it will be well to say what there is to say of that special group of wood-engravings which were not produced from drawings especially made for them, but reproduce the designs of celebrated artists, whether in facsimile or in simple outline, and which were generally executed long after the death of the artists themselves.

There are in this class, first of all, a series of collections of faithful copies after celebrated paintings of antiquity, which appeared in the course of the seventeenth century. These are:[9]

  • Gwashi kwaiyo, 6 vols. 1707, then 1754.
  • Yehon tekagami, 6 vols. 1720.
  • Gako senran, 6 vols., octavo. Osaka, 1740. With a genealogical table of the Kano school. A very beautifully executed work.
  • Wakan meigwayen, 6 vols. 1749.

Anderson, in Japanese Wood-Engravings p. 40, traces the reproductions of the above works to Ooka Shunboku, a member of the Kano school. He died about 1760, at the age of eighty-four. Gwahin, three volumes of reproductions of old pictures (1760), and the Gwahon hiroika, signed Seshosai (Osaka, 1751), are also the work of Ooka Shunboku.

This undertaking was continued by Sakurai Shuzan in the following works:—

  • Wakan meihitsu gwayei. 1750.
  • Gwaho. 1764.
  • Wakan meihitsu kingioku gwafu. 1771.
  • Gwasoku. 1777.
Vever Collection, Paris
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HÓKUSAI: Cranes in the Snow on a Pine-tree. Large. Signed: Saki no Hókusai Iitsu.

After copies of Kano Tanyu, who died in 1674, the following very beautiful work was produced by his friends:—

  • Shinchin gwacho, 3 vols., small quarto. Yedo, 1803. Pictures partly in black and white, partly delicately tinted.

(Hana­busa ) (Itsu ) (cho)Reproductions after drawings by Hanabusa Itcho (16511724) are to be found in the following works:[10]

  • Hanabusa uji gwahon, 3 vols. Osaka, 1751.
  • Hanabusa Itcho hiakugwa, 5 vols. Circa 1760.
  • Itcho gwafu, 3 vols. 1770. Another series of the same work in one vol. 1773.
  • Guncho gwayei, 3 vols. 1772.
  • Gwato setsumiyo, 3 vols. 1774. New ed., 1821.
  • Gunto setsumiyo, 3 vols. 1779.
  • Hanabusa Itcho kiogwa. In colours, 1 vol. Nineteenth century.

In the Burty Collection[11] there existed an album in square quarto with twenty coloured double sheets of beautiful design and peculiar colour, representing bath-house scenes, theatre, dance, and street scenes, tea-drinkers, and celebrated poets, along with the picture of a ford in three sections.

The artist is said to have been banished to the island Hachijo owing to the boldness of his caricatures.

Although he had been trained in the Kano school he put himself under the influence of Moronobu. Only the works of his later style, done in the first decades of the eighteenth century, after his return to Yedo, are met with as a rule.[12]

(Ko­) (rin)Of the drawings of the celebrated lacquer-painter Korin (16601716), mostly representations of plants and animals, sketched with a few strokes and broad washes of colour, only a few were reproduced during his lifetime. His works are noted for extraordinary keenness of observation, sureness and delicacy of touch, and refinement of taste. In the collection Gwashi kwaiyo, of 1707, we find a picture in black and white, representing four birds asleep on a branch of a tree with the moon in the background, which Anderson reproduces in Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 8.

In 1735 Nonomura Chubei published three volumes of reproductions after Korin with the title Michi shirube (sixty-five leaves). The pictures in the Korin mangwa (see below) are taken from this work. There appeared besides, in the eighteenth century, his designs for dress materials:[13]

  • Hinagata someiro no yama, several vols., 8vo. 1732.
  • Hinagata mamiga no yama, 3 vols., 8vo. Osaka, 1754.

The majority of reproductions of his drawings, however, did not appear until the nineteenth century:—

  • Korin gwafu, 25 sheets, 2 vols., small folio. Kioto, 1802. Sketches of flowers in rapid brushwork; in light tones of blue, green, and red. Reproductions by Yoshinaka.
  • The same, 50 coloured sheets, 8vo. Containing plants, animals, landscapes, and figures.
  • Korin gwashiki, 56 sheets. Kioto, 1818. Large double sheets of very delicately coloured reproductions. These slight and rapid animal sketches, which contain the three puppies reproduced by Bing in his Japon Artistique, count among the most original, lively, and delicate work of this master.
  • Korin hiakuzu, 2 vols., 8vo. Yedo, 1815. Reproductions in black and white, by Hoitsu (born 1763, son of a daimio, became high priest in a temple at Kioto, died 1828); the first pulls bear his stamp. 100 drawings of miscellaneous content, kakemonos, fans, screens, landscapes, birds, and flowers. They were collected by a group of his admirers on the occasion of the centenary celebration of Korin's death, each member contributing one or more drawings. A second series, in two volumes, appeared in 1826. Finally, in 1864, a third, also in two volumes, was issued. The two first series were edited by Hoitsu, the third by Keda Koson, Hoitsu's pupil.
  • Oson gwafu, 8vo. 1817. Coloured reproductions by Hoitsu. Executed with great care.
  • Original work by Hoitsu is to be found in the Oson Gwafu of 1817 (Hamburg). He also published reproductions after Kenzan, the brother of Korin, with the title, Kenzan iboku, Yedo, 1823, 23 sheets.
  • Korin mangwa, 60 sheets, 8vo. Yedo, 1819. Plants and flowers.

(Tachi­bana ) (Mori­) (kuni)Here we must mention Tachibana Morikuni (16701784), a fertile illustrator during the first half of the eighteenth century, not on account of his own illustrations, of which we shall speak later, but on account of the excellent facsimiles of the sketches he dashed off in bold liquid colours, which appeared directly after his death:—

  • Umpitsu sogwa, "Brush-strokes," 3 vols., fol. 1749. In black and white. Especially animals. Reproduction in Bing, Japan Artistique, No. X., pl. ABG.
  • Riakugwa, 3 vols. 1750.

We have further the following reproductions from drawings by Maruyama Okio (17331795), the founder of the Shijo school:[14]

  • Yenno gwafu, 2 vols., 8vo. Kioto, 1837. Coloured. Historical scenes, deities, flowers, and landscapes.
  • Okio gwafu, small folio. Kioto, 1850. Tinted. Illustrated books after Soken, one of the ten great pupils of Okio, appeared in Kioto in 1802 and 1806. Nishimura Nantei, another pupil of Okio, is the artist of the Nansei gwafu, humorous pictures, two vols., 1812, a continuation of which appeared in Kioto in 1821.

Lastly, Kitao Masayoshi, also called Kitao Keisai (died 1824), a pupil of Shigemasa, deserves mention here. He himself, it is true, had his drawings reproduced in wood-engraving, but did not execute them in the usual xylographic manner, with sharp outlines, but as hasty brush-sketches with rich liquid colouring, of which he simply had facsimiles made. Thus he became the originator of those numerous reproductions of sketches which, like those of Hokusai's Mangwa, appeared in the nineteenth century.

Of his works, we may name the following:[15]

  • Yehon kwacho kagami. 1789. Coloured reproductions after flowers and birds, which are copied from the drawings of a Chinese artist (Siebold Collection).
  • Shoshoku yekagami. 1794. Model sketches for artists. Later editions are less valuable.
  • Jimbutsu riakugwashiki. Various sketches. First series 1795, second 1799. Coloured.
  • Shuki Ichi futsu. Sketches. 1800. Coloured.
  • Sansui riakuzushiki. 1800.
  • Giobai riakugwashiki. Fish and shells. Small fol. 1802. 30 coloured double sheets of rich colouring. A marvel of art, grand in style, and of delicate rich tone; printed with great care. New edition, 1860.
  • Riakugwayen. Slight sketches. 1809. Coloured.
  • Kwa riakugwashiki. Quarto. Yedo, 1813. Flowers and shrubs. 27 double sheets, coloured.
  • Landscapes, 3 vols., containing 20 sheets. Of no special interest.
  • Shoshoku gwakio. Yedo, 1794. Black and white.
  • Gengwa yen. Yedo, 1808. Coloured figure pieces.
  • Keisai gwafu. 60 coloured compositions.

Most of these works are executed in a few bold colours, broadly laid on, often without any sort of contour. The artist, of whom we shall have more to say at the end of the chapter on Kiyonaga, is in this line of work the continuer of Morikuni.

We have similar sketches in rapid brushwork dating from the end of the eighteenth century by Gokan (1784),[16] Hasegawa



Monsieur J. Peytel, Paris

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Mitsunobu[17] and many others. Illustrated books by Mitsunobu appeared in Osaka, 1724, in Kioto, 1750, and a book with scenes of war in 1756.

2. Moronobu and his Contemporaries.—The real history of Japanese wood-engraving does not begin until the seventies of the seventeenth century. As so often happens in the history of art, a single richly gifted man, appearing at the right time, suddenly elevated the art to its fullest height. In this case Moronobu was the elect of Providence. At the beginning of his activity there was no such thing as colour-printing. His own sheets are still without exception done in black and white, and only occasionally relieved with a little colour applied by hand; and another fifty years were destined to pass after his death before a series of the most various experiments, at first in hand-colouring, then in two-block, and lastly in three-block printing, culminated in the perfect polychrome print, untrammelled in its choice of means. But with this last, world-famous phase of Japanese wood-engraving the work of Moronobu had no immediate connection. Even if the subsequent development had not reached this point, he would still have maintained the place he holds in the history of Japanese wood-engraving, for his significance lies not only in the fact that he was a forerunner and a pioneer, but in the eminence to which he advanced in his own individual achievement.

It was, to be sure, a great step forward when the ordinary illustrations, intended only to entertain the general public and turned out ever since the beginning of the seventeenth century in the traditional style and with no special care, were suddenly replaced by pictures that were, alike in conception and execution, works of art. We must also count it an especial merit of Moronobu that he took up and awakened to new life the popular art created by Matahei in the first half of the seventeenth century, which in the subsequent era of universal stagnation had fallen into oblivion. His peculiar glory, however, consists in this, that he brought wood-engraving to such instant perfection that his influence remained predominant throughout the entire period that elapsed until the invention of tone polychrome-printing, the period, that is, of the "primitives," which lasted for two whole generations.

Such "primitives" are now held in far higher estimation than formerly. We recognise in them not only forerunners, but men of heroic race, who, without being able to claim the highest honours paid to the gods, still exhibit a power, a freshness, and a grace that are hardly met with in the same degree in later times. Despite the imperfections that necessarily attach to their works, despite their lack of external correctness, their limitation to few and generally crude materials, and their conventionalism, there clings to their works a charm such as belongs to the works neither of the most brilliant nor of the pronouncedly naturalistic periods. For, in the singleness of their effort to make their drawing as expressive as possible, without regard to any special kind of beauty or truth, these "primitives" discover a power of idealisation and a stylistic skill which, at a later period and with increased knowledge, are quite unthinkable. The conscious striving after beauty and symmetry detracts somewhat from the freshness of immediate observation, and deprives it of some part of its force; while, on the other hand, the attempt to imitate nature exactly draws the artist away from the true goal of art, for it leads him only too easily to forget that he is the creator, and not the copyist of nature. While, therefore, all subsequent endeavours lead only to this result, that after many and various attempts to bring beauty into harmony with truth, the flower of art blossoms for a brief season, to be followed immediately by decay, the "primitives," on the other hand, keep on their way unconcerned about the solution of such difficult problems, and unfold the powers that are in them in all their freshness, taking care only to infuse as much life as possible into their creations and to give them as much finish as is necessary to produce a harmonious artistic impression.

Thus the representations of Moronobu and his school combine a pronouncedly decorative effect, achieved by a symmetrical filling up of the surface and the strong contrast of black and white masses, with extreme animation of motion and expression. All the persons—and there is nearly always plenty of movement in these compositions—stand in relation to one another, react on one another, and thus produce an impression dramatic in the highest degree. Though essentially schematic in their construction, they are nevertheless full of a warm life not unfelt by the artist himself. Although the faces, especially the rounded faces of the women, with their diminutive features, are monotonous enough, and although the courtly etiquette which prevails in these representations demands all possible immobility and impassiveness, nevertheless the play of eyes and eyebrows betrays enough of the emotion that lies beneath. The figures, bounded by a firm, rounded, and in places slightly thickened contour, move in graceful attitudes and beautifully flowing lines. Scenes from history and legend, and also numerous representations from contemporary life, alternate with one another—a faithful mirror of the occupations of high society, its combats and love adventures, its games, pastimes, and pleasures, even its fashions in dress and coiffure. For a reduced specimen, see Anderson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 6. Although the spirit of a new era of lax morality now first intrudes on these pictures, in the shape of easy beauties and celebrities of the stage, yet the artists never drop into vulgarity, but always preserve the forms of the highest propriety and good breeding. It is only in the crowded and lively street scenes, which Moronobu loved to draw on large oblong sheets, that he yields, always within the bounds of art, to a spirit of frolic which is absolutely enchanting. He never poses, but always remains simple and natural.

(Hishi­) (kawa ) (Moro­) (nobu) Hishikawa Moronobu, known also by the name of Kichibei, was born about 164647[18] as the son of a celebrated embroiderer named Michishige, at Hoda, in the province of Awa. After he had learned his father's craft and had made a name for himself as a designer of patterned robes and embroideries, he left Yasuda, where he had lived until then, and went to Yedo, where he mastered painting, and then devoted himself chiefly to book-illustration. According to Fenollosa (Outline) he studied painting in the new Kano school of Tanyu, so that he was able to enter the field in competition with Tsunenobu, the Shogun's protégé. Although he distinguished himself as a painter by taking up again the popular style introduced by Matahei, with special attention to delicacy of detail and tasteful choice of colours, yet he achieved far greater influence through the new life which he imparted to wood-engraving by the untiring zeal with which he turned out series after series of illustrations, which he caused to be cut under his own supervision with more care than had hitherto been customary. This activity lasted from 1669 to 1695. Moronobu contented himself with ordinary types, but contrived to invest his figures with so much life that they appear to be all but actually speaking to the beholder. Further, he never neglected the decorative effect of his compositions, but made most felicitous use of the contrast between white and black spaces. Thus he became the real creator of the popular illustrative style. His most powerful work dates from the beginning of the eighties. Fenollosa says[19] that the contours became softer and more feminine in his later works. Soon a great number of pupils and fellow-workers of similar aims gathered around him, so that, toward the end of the Bing Collection, Paris

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Morónobu: A Game of Ball. From the third volume of "Yamato no ōyosei," of 1682. Slightly heightened with colour.

century, he stood as the absolute monarch in this domain. His sheets, which were always printed in bold and simple black and white, are seldom found coloured, and then only with a few broad effective blots of orange, brown-red, and green. One of his earliest productions is the Ukiyo hiakunin joya, or hundred female figures, thirty-one representations of women in their daily occupations, Yedo; further, the Iwaki yezukushi, scenes from aristocratic life, 1682; the Yamato no oyosei, 1682; in 1683 he published the pictures of fair women, Bijin yezukushi; in the Hiakunun ishu sugata (1685) he represents the hundred poets sitting facing each other in pairs, all different, full of movement and expression and individuality. Besides these, he illustrated the novel Ise monogatari (new edition, 1774, in two volumes), Genji monogatari (25 sheets), and edited a guide to the Yoshiwara in 1678, a topographical work (meisho) in 1687, a series of landscape gardens in 1691; and his life-work further includes an album of studies of animals, plants, and flowers, a set of designs for fans, 1682, flowers and birds, 1683, and Yegata sennin yukushi (ghost stories in the Chinese style), 1689. A very full list of his works may be found in Anderson's Catalogue, p. 334; and reproductions in the Hayashi Catalogue, No. 174; Duret, p. 53; Fenollosa, Outline, pl. ii. Single-sheet prints by him are very scarce. He is said in his old age to have renounced the world and shaved his head, and, taking the name of Yuchiku, to have spent the rest of his days as a monk, dying circa 171415 in the period of Shotoku (171116) at the age of sixty-seven. But a more credible version has lately been found on the first page of a book by his son Morofusa, according to which he died in 1695; and in fact no work by him later than that date can be proved to exist.

Moronobu left two sons, one of whom, Moronaga, is said to have distinguished himself as a colourist of wood-engravings. The other, Hishikawa Morofusa, followed absolutely the manner of his father, manipulating it in flowing contours and with considerable spirit. As to his biography, see Fenollosa's Outline; he is mentioned as an artist as early as 1683, and was called Kichiza-yemon in ordinary life.[20] A book of dress patterns, with eighty-four plates, dated 1700, is his work. Reproduction in Hayashi Cat., No. 185.

Fenollosa (Outline) mentions Furuyama Moroshige as one of the best of Moronobu's pupils (like him he was also a painter), and suggests that he may have been the master of Kiyonaga.[21] Books illustrated by him date from the years 1692 and 1698. Frau Straus-Negbaur, in Frankfort-on-the-Main, possesses one of his prints.[22] A further pupil of Moronobu was Sugimura Masataka, who painted about 1700.[23] A book of 1684 contains magnificent illustrations by him, which are in no way inferior to the best work of the master himself. Another book of his was published at Kioto in 17 16.

Two contemporaries of Moronobu were Hasegawa Toun, who edited the collection of legends called Yehon hokan in 1688, and Ishikawa Riusen, who illustrated country life in Yamato kosaku gwasho. Riusen is already found mentioned side by side with Moronobu as a celebrated artist. An illustrated book by him appeared in Yedo between 1692-96. A sheet dated 1714 is in the Hayashi Catalogue (No. 187). A sheet done by Ishikawa Riushu, a pupil of Riusen, is illustrated in the same catalogue (No. 188). Mention is further made about 1700 of the painter Wowo[24] who worked for wood-engravings as late as the period of Kioho (1716-35). Other illustrators are: Kawashima Shigenobu (1683), Kichi (1700), Yoshimura Bing Collection, Paris

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Norishigé: Courtesan in a Robe figured with Irises and Paulownia Flowers. She holds up her dress with her left hand; her right hand is hidden. Kakemono. Signed: Nippon Kigwa Kwaigetsu Matsuyo Norishigé. Black impression.

Katsumasa (1718); the last mentioned is the author of Taisei Shucho, representations of animals and plants, 112 sheets, 3 volumes (Gillot Catalogue).

(Kwai­) (getsu­) (do)The greatest of his fellow-workers, however, was Kwaigetsudo, whose chief activity synchronises with the first decade of the eighteenth century.[25] Although he does not equal Moronobu in creative power and fertility, and although, in contrast with the somewhat squat but well-proportioned figures of Moronobu, he yielded to a certain mannerism in drawing his heads, hands, and feet habitually too small, yet he understood how to impart to the female types that figure on his large, tall prints, clad in full, richly-patterned garments, a dignity of carriage, a flow of contour and of undulating drapery, which set them among the finest and most forceful specimens of their kind, while from the large black and white patterns of the dresses these pictures derive an incomparable decorative effect. Like Moronobu, Kwaigetsudo was also a painter. The Hayashi Catalogue gives Kwaigetsudo the cognomen Yasutomo, and adds that he was trained in the Tosa school and was the first Kwaigetsudo who produced wood-engravings (see illustration ibid.). In the Tokio Catalogue (p. 18 seqq.) the artist receives a detailed and judicious appreciation. He is brought into connection with Choshun (see infra) as the most brilliant member of his circle and the only one who worked at wood-engraving. He was principally active about 1707-14, and already shows the influence of Masanobu (see infra) and the first Torii. Although, says the Catalogue, his compositions were somewhat monotonous, he occupies an unapproached position among all these popular artists because of his excellent distribution of black patterns. Norishige, whose name accompanies that of Kwaigetsudo in the illustration here reproduced, seems to have been a pupil of his. About 1700 there worked also (Hane­) (gawa ) (Chin­) (cho) Hanegawa Chincho, of whom we have a few large pictures of women, coloured by hand, and in whose work brick-red strongly predominates. His designs are broad and distinguished[26] in style. A book illustrated by him and published at Yedo dates from about 1700.[27] This youthful period, however, which connects itself with Moronobu's activity, was followed in the subsequent decades by the artist's most important period, which marks him as a pupil of Kiyonobu. He lived from 1679-1754 and signed Hanegawa Okinobu.[28] An important sheet by him is in the possession of Frau Straus-Negbaur in Frankfort-on-the-Main.

As a painter of the popular school, Moronobu's pupil Choshun, called in Japanese Miyagawa Nagaharu, attained wide-reaching influence. A better colourist than his master, he favoured a similar range of subjects, but did not work for wood-engraving. He was chiefly active during the second decade of the eighteenth century. He kept more closely to the style of Tsunenobu than Moronobu to that of Tanyu. To the colours of the Kano school, red, yellow, blue, and green, he added the subdued shades, brown, olive-green, purple, and grey. He principally represented Yedo street scenes, and his activity and that of his school extended to about 1725.[29] One of his pictures is reproduced in Fenellosa's Outline, pl. iii. According to the same authority the school of Moronobu, which after 1710 fell more and more into decay, was followed, on the one hand, by Kiyonobu's freer school of wood-engraving, on the other, by the more conservative school of painting inaugurated by Choshun, to which the nobles, then beginning to separate more sharply from the people, were attached. His son, Miyagawa Choki, worked in the twenties. Another follower of Choshun, Tsuneyuki, who was perhaps trained in the Kano Vever Collection, Paris

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Yamato Toriikiyonobu: Bÿün in a Robe figured with Written Characters and Paulownia Flowers. Kakemono. Signed: Yamato Hippin Gwasgi Toriikiyonobu. Black impression.

school, belongs to the best painters of the popular style. He was probably a pupil of Tsunenobu, and painted about 1720.[30] But Choshun's pupil, Miyagawa Shunsui (Shinsui?) was a painter of especial importance, as influencing the further development of this style in the representation of graceful female figures, which reached its highest perfection in the second half of the century. Fenollosa, at least, thinks it very probable that he is one and the same with the Katsukawa Shunsui who was still at work in the second half of the century producing some not very important prints, and who made a name for himself chiefly as the teacher of the great Shunsho. In that case he must have changed his family name about the year 1750, and continued working until the year 1770, under Masanobu's influence. However this may be, he at any rate influenced Tsunemasa, who probably was originally the pupil of the above-mentioned Tsuneyuki, and whose significance lies in the fact that, as a painter, he prepared the way for the style of Harunobu and the others who depicted women during the second half of the century. Tsunemasa worked between 1730 and 1780; he seems to have perfected his peculiar style about 1750.[31] All the artists here named are remarkable only as painters.[32]

3. The First Torii: Masanobu.—The art of the first half of the eighteenth century is mainly dominated by the influence of the Torii school, founded by Kiyonobu I., which devoted itself especially to representations of actors (the theatre having at that time reached its most brilliant development), and which continued to exercise its influence beyond the conclusion of the eighteenth century. Formerly the opinion was that this time could be identified with that of the first appearance of the two-colour print, which had been fixed at about the year 1710; but since Fenollosa has established the fact that the production of these earliest coloured prints cannot well be assumed as prior to 1743, in which year the first dated and presumably the earliest print of this kind was published, we must take it that the whole previous period was entirely devoted to black and white. On the other hand, the painting of these sheets, which began to be done with artistic care quite early, at all events about the year 1710, deserves especial mention, as it developed the peculiar colour-scheme on which the true polychrome prints were afterwards modelled.[33]

(Tori­) () (Kiyo­) (nobu) Torii Kiyonobu I., according to his real name Shobei, was born in 1664 and lived until 1729.[34] From Kioto where he lived at first, he proceeded to Yedo where a more stimulating atmosphere was to be found, and gave himself up chiefly to the depicting of actors, and also to the preparation of theatrical programmes and posters. Whereas hitherto these subjects had only been occasionally treated, he elevated them to the rank of a permanent department of wood-engraving, which continued to be cultivated almost as a matter of privilege by the Torii school that he founded. His drawing was broad, bold, and decided, and calculated to produce its effect from a distance, as in broadbrush painting. Simple rounded outlines sufficed him to express force. His faces are long and oval in shape. His large sheets[35] are remarkable for their admirable distribution of the black spaces, whose effect is made still more striking by being picked out with lustrous vermilion. A subdued yellow and a green approaching to olive are also used. About 1715 the large pictures of actors were at the height of their popularity, and through them, as the Hayashi Catalogue (Introduction, p. iii) rightly remarks, Kiyonobu became the true founder of the popular style, the courtly style of Moronobu having hitherto reigned supreme. Subsequently, however, and up to the invention of two-colour printing, these large sheets were more and more replaced by the smaller narrow prints called hoso-ye, which were employed for choice by Shunsho as late as the second half of the eighteenth century. In his first period Kiyonobu had also done book-illustrations—the Hayashi Catalogue (No. 1426 seqq.) instances several which appeared at Yedo about 1690, and again from 1700 to 1705.

In the beginning Kiyonobu coloured with the orange-red (tan, a lead pigment) then universally used for the purpose, his sheets coming thence to be commonly designated as tan-ye, orange paintings. From about the year 1715, however, he used instead of this a carmine-red (beni, a vegetable juice), with which he combined violet, blue, and a brilliant yellow.[36] In the second decade Indian ink was added, which was covered with a lacquer varnish, and this for two decades remained the characteristic of the colouring of that period. Gold dust and, for white surfaces, powdered mother of pearl (mica), were also used. These hand-coloured prints were called urushi-ye, lacquer pictures. It was just at this time, when the hand-coloured wood-engravings were at their highest perfection and circulated everywhere, that Masanobu, who had begun to work for wood-engraving about the same time as Kiyonobu, broke off this activity and devoted himself almost wholly to painting. At this time, too, the hair coiffure, after abandoning its elaborate style of the seventeenth century, and gradually becoming flatter and flatter, had changed yet again to continually squarer shapes distinguished only by a long flat queue.

According to Japanese custom, Kiyonobu's pupils adopted a part of his surname, which they completed by an additional syllable. Among these, Kiyotada was the most conspicuous. He began to work as early as 1720, but his activity ceased long before that of his master; for this reason his works are particularly rare.[37] An illustration in the Hayashi Catalogue (No. 219) rather reminds one of Masanobu. In the Tokio Catalogue (p. 33) thirty-three of his pictures are enumerated, varying in date from about 1714 to 1736. Perhaps he was a son of Kiyonobu.

(Tori­) () (Kiyo­) (masu) Together with Kiyonobu I., Kiyomasu is generally spoken of as the second great master of this school.[38] As he was born about 1679,[39] he cannot have been a son of Kiyonobu, as was formerly supposed; rather he may have been his brother, as Fenollosa assumes. He is said to have died as late as 1763, and according to this account must have witnessed the activity of Kiyonobu II. (see below). A play-bill by him bears the early date 1693. Illustrated books by him appeared in 1703 (Kioto), and again in 1712 (Yedo), 1729, and 1747. The Tokio Catalogue (No. 37 seqq.) mentions sheets by him which are assigned to about 1711 and 1713; and one of these, in the judgment of Fenollosa, shows a distinction of draughtsmanship which may be sought for in vain among the works of Moronobu, and a sense of life which surpasses Kwaigetsudo.

Vever Collection, Paris

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Kiyómasu: Lady at her Toilet. The dress figured with lotus. Hand-tinted in yellow, green, and grey.

Bing Collection, Paris

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Kiyóharu: A Young Woman travelling, with two Servants. Hand-tinted with black and yellow. Medium size.

As a draughtsman Kiyomasu seems to have excelled Kiyonobu, and to have been altogether more productive than he. His compositions, consisting both of black and white and of two-colour prints, are replete with life and vigour. Bing (Catalogue, p. 2) gives a list of some of them. The Tokio Catalogue (No. 40) mentions an urushiya by him of about 1728, and two-colour prints of about 1744 and 1747 (Nos. 69, 70). A chess-board pattern first occurs in one of his prints towards 1748. The Gillot Catalogue even makes mention of a three-colour print, a falcon on its perch. Kiyoshige, also, of whom Bing cites an actor (Catalogue, p. 3), belongs to this period. He executed, as appears from a kind communication from S. Bing, almost exclusively actor prints, of larger or smaller size, together with some kakemonos. His period of activity extends from 1725 to about 1759. The Tokio Catalogue (No. 51) mentions a hand-coloured kakemono by him, dated about 1745, and also a two-colour print of about 1759 (No. 83). An illustrated book appeared at Yedo in 1754. There are two illustrations in the Hayashi Catalogue (Nos. 224 and 226), the first of which already reminds us very much of Harunobu.

Finally, we must name Kondo Sukegoro (also Hishikawa) Kiyoharu, who, during the first part of the eighteenth century, was specially active as an illustrator of books, particularly children's books. One of his picture-books appeared in Yedo in 1720. We have by him Ginka-Zoshi, poems on the girls' festival, Tanabata, of July 7th, according to the old calendar; a new edition, in colours, is supposed to have been produced in 1835, at Osaka, in 3 vols. 8vo. He also represented theatrical scenes.[40] The Hayashi Catalogue (No. 232) mentions a certain Kondo Katsunobu as his son or pupil, and illustrates a very graceful drawing by him, done in a broad style.

Further artists of this group are as follows: Torii Kiyosomo, who was perhaps already influenced by Masanobu; his works are rare and distinguished. In the Hayashi Catalogue (No. 221), which also gives a reproduction, he is called a pupil of Kiyonobu I. In the Tokio Catalogue (No. 52) there is an urushi-ye by him of about 1739. Katsukawa Terushige, a pupil of Kiyonobu (illustration in Hayashi Catalogue, No. 531). Tamura Yoshinobu (illustration, ibid., No. 233). Fujikawa Yoshinobu, middle of eighteenth century (illustration, ibid., No. 294). Tamura Sadanobu (illustration, ibid., No. 234). Shimizu Mitsunobu (illustration, ibid., No. 292).

The second generation of the Torii is represented by Kiyonobu II., who worked from the thirties to the middle of the fifties, and so stood in the midst of the two-colour print period, which began in 1743. He is stated in the Gillot Catalogue to have been the third son of Kiyonobu I.[41] Bing (Catalogue, p. 1) mentions several of his sheets, but the question whether they belong to him or to Kiyonobu I. has still to be examined; the same applies to the lovers reproduced by Strange (p. 22). In the Jaekel Collection at Greifswald, there is an urushi-ye by him dating from the early thirties. On a colour-print of about 1752 there is already the suggestion of a landscape.[42] On the picture of an actor as Soga no Goro of about 1753 (illustrated in Fenollosa's Outline, pl. v.) the spots of red and green are as subtly distributed in their relations to the black and the white as the pattern on the shell of a tortoise; on a two-colour print of about 1754 (ibid., p. 47) the black is already more prominent. Fenollosa (Catalogue, No. 61) singles out for special praise a triptych with figures under sunshades, printed in colours. He is perhaps identical with the Torii Shiro, one of whose sheets is illustrated in the Hayashi Catalogue, No. 227. Two Royal Print Room, Dresden

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Masánobu: Courtesan with a Servant. Hand-tinted with red, yellow, brown, black, and gold-dust. On a mica ground. Medium size.

celebrated artists, whose names were similarly formed, do not appear until long after—Kiyomitsu, about the middle of the century; and Kiyonaga, the most perfect representative of Japanese wood-engraving, towards the end of the century. (Oku-) (mura­) (Masa-) (nobu)

Beside this Torii school of the first period, and especially beside Kiyonobu II., stands Okumura Masanobu, whose life extended from 1685 to 1764, and who claims a special place by himself. He was also a publisher, and signed with the names Bunkaku, Kwammio, Tanchosai, also Genzoku, as well as with his real name.[43] He differs from the Torii in so far that, as a direct pupil of Moronobu and following his style more closely, he seldom produced actor prints, but devoted himself instead to the glorification of feminine charm and beauty; and in the end, his innate sense of grace and pleasing composition enabled him to bring the style of this early period to a perfection and finish not again equalled until the easier mastery of Kiyonaga.

Masanobu's life falls into two clearly separated divisions, the boundary between them being formed by the second half of the thirties. At first he seems, as did his teacher, Moronobu, to have produced in the main book-illustrations (yehons), in black and white. Anderson (Catalogue, p. 338) cites several of them, among them a work which treats of beautiful women (bijin). The dates which he gives extend from 1690 to 1720, but the first of these (1690) is obviously much too early. In the Hayashi Catalogue (No. 1457 seqq.) Masanobu's illustrated books do not begin until 1703, and then follow some of 1706 and 1707. Single sheets coloured with tan are assigned by the Tokio Catalogue (No. 54 seqq.) to about 1710 and 1712. Fenollosa (Outline, pl. iv.) reproduces a hand-coloured actor of about 1725. But from 1715 to 1735 Masanobu devoted himself principally to painting, under the influence of Shoshun and then especially of Kwaigetsudo.

It is not until the second half of the thirties, in the period of Gembun (173640), that he again turns his attention to wood-engraving, in which branch of art he is influenced, like Shigenaga and Toyonobu (see infra), by the fertile and graceful book-illustrator Sukenobu. Illustrated books by him occur again from about 1740 to 1750, and in 1752 (Hayashi Catalogue), all published at Yedo. It was a new trend of national culture which led him to resume this kind of work, an outward sign of it being the gradual increase in the height of the central top-knot. He adapted himself even more closely than the Torii to the various changes of fashion.[44] After the invention of the two-colour print in the early forties he devoted himself to this work also with great assiduity. From this period began his rivalry with Kiyonobu II., each artist following the lead of his genius and training in a direction of his own. Masanobu principally represented graceful female figures and bright scenes of social intercourse, while Kiyonobu, for the most part, remained faithful to his representations of actors. A reproduction given by Anderson[45] shows his remarkable finish of composition and the grace of his figures. We miss the flashes of robust sensuousness that distinguish Moronobu, a more feminine and more elegiac temper discloses itself; but it is just this inclination toward delicacy that prepares the way for the subsequent development of Japanese wood-engraving. In a series of fifteen double sheets of mythological scenes, a varied picture of the life of the times is unfolded before us—boating parties, mandoline concerts, love scenes, the landscape scarcely indicated yet admirably suggestive. Single-sheet prints (ichimai-ye) are not wanting either; as, for example, a series of half-length female


Monsieur G. Bullier, Paris

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Vever Collection, Paris

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OKUMURA MASÁNOBU: A Picnic under Cherry-trees in Blossom. Signed: Okumura Bunkaku Masánobu. Green and pale pink.

figures on fans. Musachi no tsuki (the moon in the province of Musachi) shows us a series of female figures, in black and white (Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum). Bing (Catalogue, No. 76) mentions some further sheets.

With Masanobu, too, begins naturalistic landscape, which attained its full development during the second half of the century. Besides small sheets, he now also produced large ones with single figures, or with populous interiors, such as had quite gone out of use since Moronobu's time. He reached his highest pinnacle, however, in the two-colour sheets, which he produced (partly with blind printing) between 174350; they are mostly compositions in three parts, with single figures or groups, and sometimes have an architecturally disposed background, in which the beauty of his grouping and the precision of his draughtsmanship are peculiarly evident. These two-colour prints were, like the hand-coloured black and white work, known as beni-ye, because the same red was used in both. But hand-coloured work continued to be produced along with them for some time longer, and even attained to its peculiar development about 1750, as is proved by several sheets of Masanobu which Fenollosa (Outline) assigns to this very period. In these his best days, when his figures were becoming rather longer and more elegant, he also produced his finest kakemonos. According to Bing he also turned out three-colour prints and might therefore be numbered among the inventors of that species.

The following is a list of other works by him, all hand-coloured black and white prints, unless otherwise stated:—

Long female figures, on large sheets, suggesting the work of Kwaigetsudo; young woman standing, playing with a cat; the three chief towns (Yedo, Kioto, Osaka) symbolised by three women, a large sheet; tiger crouching at the foot of a bamboo tree, worked out of a black ground; pheasant on branch of plum-tree; a book with double-page pictures of medium size, each scene containing two persons, very spirited, of strong vivacious contours, black and white (illustrations in Hayashi Catalogue, No. 275, where there are others besides); erotic scenes on oblong sheets.

Of Masanobu's pupils, Okumura Toshinobu is the best and

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Sukenobu. Three dancing-girls (From a book published in 1735).

best known; but the latter ceased working before the death of his master.[46] In the Hayashi Catalogue he is called the son of Masanobu. He must be reckoned among his early pupils, as his coloured sheets are still quite archaic in style. He also produced two-colour prints. According to Fenollosa[47] his work is generally very delicate; no large wood-engravings by him are known.

Among the pupils and followers of Masanobu may be further mentioned: Kishigawa Katsumasa (illustrations in Hayashi Catalogue, No. 293). Ma(n)getsudo, by whom an excellent two-colour print of 1747 is known; illustration of a triptych of four women in the street in the Hayashi Catalogue,

No. 325; a two-colour print in large folio is in the library of the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum. Shuseido, coloured triptych with three women (Oeder Collection, Düsseldorf). An illustrated book by Okumura Bunshi Masafusa was published at Yedo in 1747.[48]

Finally, we must mention Nishimura Shigenobu as of this early period; he worked from 1728–40, and was probably the ancestor of the artist family of Nishimura.[49] At first he produced actor prints in the Torii style, then pictures of women after the manner of Kwaigetsudo, and thus gradually broke away from the Torii to found a school of his own. He possessed greater merit as a wood-engraver than as a painter, but his chief title to fame is the artistic training which he gave to his son, Shigenaga, the probable inventor of two-colour printing. A still greater artist was Nishimura Magosaburo. An uncertainty exists as to whether he was a brother of Shigenobu, or perhaps his son; in that case he would be identical with Shigenaga who is said to have styled himself thus, though only in cursive (Gillot Catalogue)

4. Book-Illustration in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century.—Besides the above-named masters, a number of competent but less original artists were active as book-illustrators. After Moronobu had, in the second half of the seventeenth century, brought book-illustration to a height not hitherto attained, and numerous pupils had followed him along this path, the demand for illustrated books (yehons) seems to have relaxed during the period from 1715 to 1735, when the interest of the people was more and more strongly diverted to the theatre, and representations of actors on single-sheet prints were eagerly sought after. But from about the year 1735 onwards, such books once more appear in increasing numbers, in manifest response to an enhanced desire for representations from life, as well as a heightened delight in romantic descriptions. The illustrations were almost uniformly printed in black and white, and very seldom coloured. We must here mention first 西 (Nishi­) (kawa ) (Suke­) (nobu) Nishikawa Sukenobu, a pupil of Yeino Kano Sukenori. He lived from 1674 to 1754, and produced a multitude of illustrated books in the style created by Moronobu. He aimed at giving his readers continuous entertainment in

Bing Collection, Paris

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Oshinóbu: An Actor, in a Female Part, in a Shower of Gold (Kobans, little gold coins). Hand-tinted with black, red, and yellow, and gold-dust. Medium size.

Bing Collection, Paris

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Shigenóbu: Horses drinking under a Cherry-tree. Hand-tinted with black, grey, and yellow. Medium size.

designs of facile invention, great vivacity, and excellent composition, lacking only in high seriousness and delicacy of detail. He was born in Kioto, and was known in private life as Nishikawa Ukio; his first work was done in the manner of the Kano school, from which he went over to the Tosa school. His importance for Kioto is the same as that of Masanobu for Yedo.[50] From about 1730 he seems to have settled in Osaka. The Hamburg Museum possesses a book by him called Shotoku Hinagasa, dated as early as 1713.[51] He was especially noted for his scenes from the life and occupations of women, of which a series appeared, as early as 1723, under the title Hiakunin Joro shinasadame:—

  • Yehon Hanamomiji. Undated.
  • Genji no yesho. 1730.
  • Wakoku hiakujo, hundred Japanese women, on 27 pictures.

In 1736 followed the widely known—

  • Yehon tamakadzura (Pl. no. 11 in Anderson's Japanese Wood-Engraving).
  • Yehon Asakayama. 1739.
  • 1740, 1741, Yehon chiyomigusa, scenes from the life of women, 3 vols.

These books are followed by the scenes from social life, the Yehon ike no kawazu, an edition of which in 1768 is cited by Anderson. Illustrations of poems:—

  • 1730, Yehon Tsukubayama; 1755, Yehon himekagami; and illustrations of the book of moral precepts:
  • Yehon chitoseyama. 1740.

He illustrated legends in his Yehon Yamato-hiji of 1742, and Japanese stories in his Yehon Kame no Oyama of 1747.

Besides these, the following books by him are mentioned:—

  • Yehon tokiwagusa, the life of court ladies, middle-class women, and courtesans, 3 vols. 1731.
  • Yehon Fudetsubana. 1747.
  • Goriu yehonzoroye (various sketches). 1748.
  • Yehon Yoshinogusa, 3 vols. 1759.
  • An erotic work in 3 vols.

Reprints of his books continued to be published as late as the eighties of the eighteenth century.

Reproductions of his work may be found in Gonse[52] (weaving women) and Anderson[53] (genre-picture).

Tachibana Morikuni, Sukenobu's contemporary, was still more fertile, varied, and important; he gave his figures more life and expression, and paid more attention to the artistic execution of his wood prints.[54] He lived from 1670 to 1748. His numerous model sketches, as well as reproductions of his work, have already been detailed on p. 59. In his illustrations he follows the style of the Kano school; Tsuruzawa Tanzan is mentioned as his teacher.

He illustrated legends as follows:—

  • Yehon kojidan (ancient myths), 8 vols. Osaka, 1714. (Reproduction in Strange, p. 10.)
  • Yehon shahobukuro (legends, &c.), 9 vols. 1720. (A good specimen in Anderson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 10, a dance of children).
  • Yehon Tsuhoshi, 9 vols. 1725. He here signs himself T. Yuzei. The first volume treats of agriculture, the chase, fishing; the second, of dancing and riding; the third, celebrated localities; the fourth, portraits; the fifth, tales and legends; the sixth, fantastic representations; the rest, landscapes. A later edition in 1772.
  • Gwaten tsuko (legends), 10 vols. Osaka, 1727.
  • Yehon Oshikubai, 7 vols. Osaka, 1740. (Rep. Strange, p. 11.)

Illustrations of poems are to be found in the following works:—

  • Wacho meisho gwazu, 4 vols. 1732
  • Fuso gwafu, 5 vols. 1735. Treats of the celebrated localities of Japan. A later edition, Kioto, 1784.
  • Yokioku gwashi (the No dance), 10 vols. Osaka, 1732.
  • Honcho gwayen, 6 vols. 1782.

Ooka Shunboku, who died about 1760, at the age of eighty-four, also illustrated legends:—

  • Wakan koji Bokuo shingwa, 5 vols. 1753.
  • Hisei Musha Suguri. 1736. Reproductions after his works by an anonymous pupil.

As a copyist of ancient paintings he has already been mentioned (p. 56).[55]

Other illustrators are:

Kokan, who published in the year 1722 a collection of popular sketches called Jimbutsu sogwa. Duret mentions a work of 1724 in three volumes.

Hokio Tachibana Yasukuni, a son and pupil of Morikuni:

  • Yehon Noyomagusa, studies of flowers. 1755, 5 vols.
  • Yehon Yabutsusen, illustrations of historical poetry. Osaka, 1778, 5 vols.

Tsukioka Masanobu, died 1786:

  • Yehon Komei futubagusa, stories of the childhood of famous men. Osaka, 1759, 3 vols.
  • Onna buya Kebai Kurabe, heroines. Osaka, 1766, 3 vols.

Hayami Shunshosai, about 1775:

  • Korobanu sakino zuye, very spirited scenes with landscapes. Kioto, 3 vols.


  • Roren gwafu, facsimiles of expressive brushwork drawings. Yedo, 1763.

Tsukioka Tange (1717-86), of whom the following works are mentioned:[56]

  • Yehon musha tazuna, also named the Yehon Komio futubagusa 1759, representations of heroic deeds.
  • Yehon hime bunko 1760, ladies' book.
  • Togoku meishoshi 1762, landscapes of Eastern Japan.

In the Tokio Catalogue (p. 41 seqq.) the two following pupils of Sukenobu are mentioned: Nishikawa Suketada, probably a son of Sukenobu, more original and imaginative in his colouring than the latter; illustrated books by him occur from 1748 onwards (Hayashi Catalogue No. 1477 seqq.); and Tsukioke Settei, who represents the transition to the following generation which is already influenced by Yedo.

Further names to be mentioned are: Nakaji Sadatoshi, of the Kano school; he published drawing exercises in Kioto about 1730 (Hayashi Catalogue, No. 355).—Kitao Sekkosai, from Osaka, a pupil of Buncho? Illustrated books by him are dated 1754 and 1767; in the latter of these a separate plate for the general tint is first employed. A large broadside folio sheet of 1764 represents, in forty-eight divisions, women of various classes and professions (illustrated in Hayashi Catalogue, No. 479).—Kanyosai in Kioto, called also Tatobe Riosai and Mokio (1712-74), one of the best draughtsmen of the period. One of his works is Kanyosai gwafu, Yedo 1762, 5 vols, of plants, birds, and landscapes, in the style of the old Chinese masters (Hayashi Catalogue, No. 1612); Mokio wakan zatsuga, after old pictures (1772), 5 vols., new edition 1802; drawings of fishes, 1775 (Duret, No. 462 seqq.).—Ippo, collections of drawings, Osaka 1752 and Yedo 1758—Rinsho, drawings, Yedo 1770.—By Ito Jakunobu are: Gempo Yokua, plants and animals, black and white (1768), 55 sheets, a work of unusual power and largeness (Hamburg Museum). The artist lived from 1716 to 1800. He studied the Kano school to begin with, and then the Chinese school and Korin.

  1. Reduced reproduction in Anderson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 4.
  2. Duret Cat., No. 1; also in the Vever Collection, Paris.
  3. The assertion in the first edition that woodcut illustrations only began in the year 1608 must therefore be corrected in accordance with these facts.
  4. Duret, p. 33; Douglas, Japanese Illustrated Books, No. 2.
  5. Anderson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 5.
  6. Brinckmann, p. 217 ff.
  7. Tokio Cat., p. 11.
  8. Fenollosa Cat., p. 114.
  9. Anderson Cat., p. 341.
  10. Anderson Cat., p. 337.
  11. Cat., No. 175.
  12. Cat. Tokio, p. 15.
  13. Anderson Cat., p. 405; Cat. Burty, No. 87 f.
  14. Cat. Burty, No. 131 f.
  15. Anderson Cat., p. 347; Cat. Burty, No. 204 ff.
  16. See Cat. Burty, No. 215.
  17. Cat. Burty, No. 539.
  18. Anderson Cat., p. 332; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 36; Strange, p. 6.
  19. Tokio Cat., p. 13.
  20. Tokio Cat., p. 14.
  21. Ibid., p. 13.
  22. A follower of Moroshige was Furuyama Moromasa, who lived in the period of Horeki (1751-63)—at a very much later date, that is to say (Tokio Cat., p. 13). An illustration in the Hayashi Cat. (No. 186) represents a scene in a tea-house, in large broadside folio.
  23. Tokio Cat., p. 15.
  24. Ibid., p. 14.
  25. Fenollosa Cat., No. 15 ff.
  26. Epistolary communication from S. Bing.
  27. Hayashi Cat., No. 1450.
  28. Ibid., No. 235 seqq., with illustrations.
  29. Tokio Cat., p. 16.
  30. Tokio Cat, p. 21.
  31. Ibid., p. 22.
  32. Fenollosa Cat., No. 7-13. Fenollosa also discusses Shunsui in further detail in his Outline (p. 31) and in the Tokio Cat. (p. 24 seqq.), and suggests that he may have been a son of Choshun. He founded a large school of painting side by side with the Torii, which was distinguished for its realism, its intensity of colouring, and its delicacy of conception; the landscape background also began to develop in course of time. One of his paintings is reproduced in the Outline, pl. vii. It was only after 1765 that he worked for the wood-engravers once or twice.
  33. In my first edition I had assumed a parallel activity of, and a continuous rivalry between, Kiyonobu and Masanobu. Since then, however, it has been shown that we must assume the existence of two artists named Kiyonobu, the second appreciably younger than the first; and my former description has had accordingly to be completely recast, for although Masanobu began work at more or less the same period as Kiyonobu I., yet it was not until the latter half of his life that he became a determining influence in his art and entered into the competition as described with the second Kiyonobu.
  34. In the first edition his dates had been given as 1688-about 1756, on the authority of Anderson, Japanese Wood-Engraving, p. 23; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 20-23, 29, 35, 61, 87; Strange, p. 21. The new dates are founded on the Hayashi Cat., No. 190 seqq.
  35. Illustration in Hayashi Cat., No. 197.
  36. According to a statement in the Kokka Magazine, tan was displaced at the beginning of the period of Kioho (1716-35) by beni (Deshayes in L'Art, 1893, ii. 10).
  37. Fenollosa Cat., No. 31.
  38. Ibid., No. 24.
  39. Hayashi Cat., No. 203 seqq.
  40. Anderson Cat., p. 338; Cat. Burty, No. 152.
  41. In the first edition he had not yet been distinguished from Kiyonobu I., who was assumed to have lived to beyond the middle of the century.
  42. Tokio Cat., No. 46; ibid., p. 27.
  43. In the first edition, 1751-52 had been given as the date of his death, on the authority of Fenollosa (Cat., Nos. 18-20, 36, 41, 48, 53-55, 66, 77). The biography of Masanobu has now assumed a very different aspect in the light of the above dates, which are taken from the Hayashi Cat., and in consequence of the separation of the two Kiyonobus from each other.
  44. Tokio Cat., p. 38.
  45. Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 7.
  46. Fenollosa Cat., No. 37.
  47. Tokio Cat., p. 39.
  48. Hayashi Cat., No. 1463.
  49. Fenollosa Cat., No 38; Tokio Cat., p. 32; Hayashi Cat., No. 318 seqq.
  50. Tokio Cat., p. 41
  51. Anderson Cat., p. 339. See Tasset. The new biographical dates (in lieu of "1671 to about 1760") are taken from the Hayashi Cat.
  52. Vol. i. p. 123.
  53. Pictorial Arts, i. p. 171.
  54. Anderson Cat., p. 339; Hayashi Cat., No. 1599 seqq.; Duret.
  55. Anderson Cat., p. 341 seqq.
  56. Duret, p. 97.