A History of Japanese Colour-Prints/THE REMAINING ARTISTS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
THE REMAINING ARTISTS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
1. Artists of the beginning of the century—2. Kunisada—3. Hiroshige
1. Artists of the Beginning of the Century.—While Hokusai, from the second decade on, held the field as sole ruler after Yeishi, Utamaro, and Toyokuni had retired from the scene, a small number of artists whose style was rooted in the eighteenth century were still at work. The first to be mentioned are the two pupils of Shunyei, Shunsen, and Shuntei, the last artists of the Katsukawa clan of painters, both of whom were active in the two first decades of the century.
- A set of eight landscapes with figures in the foreground; rose and yellow predominate, the water indicated by blind printing.
- Shell-gathering at sunset.
- The banks of the Sumida in winter.
A reproduction in Strange p. 80.
Afterwards, under the name of Shunko II., he devoted himself exclusively to faïence painting.
There exists a book of Singing-Birds by Tsutsumi Torin, Toshimitsu and Rinsho, published in 1795 (Duret, No. 148).
Other pupils of Torin were as follows: Sawa Sekkio (Hayashi Catalogue, No. 1007); Umpo (ibid., No. 1011); Riusai Masazumi (ibid., No. 1015).
- Kuraiyama homare no yokozuna, a tale. 1812.
- Nanko seichu gwaden, the history of the faithful Kusunoki Masashige, 4 vols. 1815.
- Itogoromo Tengu Baikai(?), a tale, 6 vols. About 1815.
- Most celebrated in his two-volume work, the Game of the Young Prince.
- The seven gods of fortune, surimonos.
- The contest of a hero with a monstrous serpent (illustrated in Strange, page 38).
Shinsai, who is mentioned as an early pupil of Hokusai (about 1800-10), would be better classed with Shumman. Eight views of Lake Omi in the "Dutch" style are by him; he also worked at surimonos; one with two crabs is reproduced by Gillot.
Bokusen, in Owari, was Hokusai's contemporary; in his house, in 1812, the plan for the Mangwa first originated; he himself, in 1815, brought out a similar collection of sketches, Bokusen sogwa, 8vo, in polychrome. Duret mentions a peculiar book by him: Kiyogwayan, the Garden of Caricatures (Uagoya, 1815).
Of his works may be mentioned:—
- A series of the twelve months.
- Snow, moon, and flowers, 3 sheets.
- Series of large figures in half length.
From the year 1829 he began to compose his own texts, which he then illustrated. Strange reproduces, at page 58, a woman with an umbrella. A pupil of his was Keisai Yeisen, of whom we shall speak later.
Closely related to Utamaro is also Shiko, a painter of the Ganku school; Strange, who is almost inclined to prefer him to Utamaro, reproduces a kakemono-ye by him at page 60. Some of his prints remind one of Hokusai's best period.
Of other artists the following may be mentioned:—
Mori Shunkei, with his Gwafu, representations of flowers, birds, and insects in polychrome, after Chinese models, 1820 (Anderson Catalogue, p. 364).
Kawamura Bumpo, a pupil of Ganku. He began to illustrate books as early as 1800 (Duret, No. 468). Bumpo Gwafu, in the Chinese style, appeared at Kioto in 1813 (Gillot Catalogue). Books of reproductions after his work, containing landscapes and genre pictures, appeared in the years 1809-24 (Burty Catalogue, No. 136 ff.; Anderson Catalogue, p. 449).
Oishi Matora (1792-1833), a celebrated illustrator of meishos (books of travel). By him appeared caricatures in colour (Osaka, 1828, and 1833), 2 vols., 8vo (Burty Catalogue, No. 712).
Hasegawa Settan in Yedo also illustrated meishos, which appeared from 1832-39. The Yedo meisho of 1836, 20 vols., in black and white, is the finest of its kind (Anderson Catalogue, p. 364; Burty Catalogue, No. 438).
Other humorous illustrators of the school of Kioto are, according to Duret (Nos. 462-516): Kanyosai (Mokio), who lived from 1712-74 (see chap, iii., end). Kyaro, works by him of 1798 and 1799; Kuro (Kino Baitei) is the author of Kuro Gwafu, Kioto, 1797. Shimo Kawahe Jiusui followed Sukenobu's style; by him is Kummo zuye, an encyclopaedic work in 21 vols. (Kioto, 1789).
To the nineteenth century belong: Nichosai (Kotsijukai, Osaka, 1802, 2 vols.). Sato Sui Saki (work of 1814). Kishi (Aoi Sokiju).
2. Kunisada.—Besides Hokusai and his school, the first hair of of the nineteenth century was dominated by the school of Utagawa, which was called into being by Toyokuni. Its chief representative during the whole of this long period was Kunisada, who, perhaps even more than Hokusai himself, may be regarded as the typical master upon whose works was based the generally accepted European view of Japanese art. In his violently agitated figures, their big faces filled with exaggerated expression, in his variegated colouring, and his composition that is loth to leave the smallest corner unfilled, Europe thought to recognise the distinguishing characteristics of the art of Japan. It is true that, if we shut our eyes to all the clumsiness, crudeness, and exaggeration in his work, there still shine through it glimpses of the old grand style to which Hokusai had not been in equal measure unfaithful; but the falling-off is nevertheless so great that we can only call this new tendency, which entirely dominated Kunisada, the evidence of a rapid and uncontrollable decay. Although some of these works may offer so much that is artistic that, comparing them with the other products of the nineteenth century, we may look up to them with admiration as models that in some respects we have not yet equalled, particularly in regard to decorative power and the keen observation of nature; yet from a Japanese standpoint, and measured by the works of the past, they are unable to engage our interest. Only the landscapes of Hiroshige, with whom this survey concludes, form an exception to this statement.
- Triptych: a young girl on the seashore (about 1806, according to Fenollosa, No. 394).
- Pentaptych: the great Sumida bridge.
- The actor Icchosai in his chief comic parts, 48 sheets, fol.
- Actor prints, above each an orchestra of five musicians, fol.
- Actors in half length, 8vo.
- The courtesans, 118 sheets, fol.
- Genji Monogatari, at the top of every sheet a fan with various designs, 54 sheets, fol. 1828.
- Azuma Genji, 54 pictures of women, with variants on Genji Monogatari, 8vo.
- Miyomato Mansashi, ghost pictures and others, 124 sheets, fol.
- Joso sanju rokukisen, occupations of women, fol.
- Hana no sugatami, more than 60 theatrical scenes, 12mo, with the names of the different provinces where the scenes take place.
- Anderson's Catalogue cites several works of the years 1827-32. Strange reproduces, at page 50, three of his sheets; Gonse, i. page 98, a surimono.
Of his single sheets the following may be cited:—
- A temple in Yedo; large.
- Laden cows led in the rain; large.
- Snow landscape with pines; large.
- A carp leaping up a waterfall; very large (according to Fenollosa, No. 410, about 1840).
- A cat watching goldfish.
- A series of waterfalls.
- 12 sheets, the history of the Ronin, obl. fol., his best work.
Anderson cites from him, among other works, the following:—
- Jingi Andon, sketches, in collaboration with other artists, 5 vols. 8vo, about 1825.
- Nishikino Fukuro, sketches in style of Mangwa. 1829.
- Keisai sogwa, 5 vols. 1832.
- Keisai ukiyo gwafu, in collaboration with Hiroshige, 3 vols., about 1836, his principal work of the kind.
The following are mentioned as his principal works:—
- View of Lake Biwa with Fuji in the distance; dated by Fenollosa (Catalogue, No. 404) about 1840.
- The priest Nichiren in the snow; signed Ichiyosai.
- A series illustrating the history of the Ronin, 47 folio sheets, a celebrated work.
- Tatsutagawa, the hundred famous poets; also celebrated.
- Genji Monogatari, 54 sheets. 1844.
- The stations of the Tokaido, with representations of legends referring to the places concerned, in collaboration with Kunisada, 70 sheets (?).
- The rainbow: three people climbing a hill.
- Japanese heroes, over 50 sheets.
- Views of the waterfall of Benten.
- Siukoden, the 108 Chinese heroes.
- Examples of Chinese filial love, 14 double sheets.
- Fuzokuko meiden, celebrated persons, 2 vols., 8vo. Kioto, 1840. In black and white.
Anderson cites some illustrated works from the period 1831 to 1856. Strange (plate vi.) gives a reproduction.
BRIDGE IN RAIN
(One of the Hundred Views of Yedo)
Vever Collection, Paris
3. Hiroshige.—Japanese wood-engraving, after it had advanced in the course of 150 years' development from the ornamental to the idealistic and then to the fantastic method of representation, dropped anchor in the haven of naturalism at the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Landscape, which up to then had played but a minor part, now attained an independent significance; at the same time the representation of animals was also perfected. It is true that these efforts were no longer able to put fresh life into the national art, as the general conditions of the country had already assumed too unfavourable an aspect; but for us at all events, this closing era of Japanese wood-engraving has a particular interest on account of its close connection with more recent tendencies in Europe. In the centre of the development of landscape stands Hiroshige, side by side with his older contemporary Hokusai and his younger Kuniyoshi; he himself being probably the creator and in any case the perfecter of this new branch of art. What brings this last great master of Japan especially close to us is, besides this naturalism, the fact that he approaches more nearly to the European method than any other of his countrymen; in fact, he must have studied it extensively, though he does not go so far as to assimilate it completely. In his works the rules of perspective are to a certain extent observed; he aspires to correct composition, with the proper adjustment of foreground and background, and chooses his standpoint accordingly; more particularly, each of his designs has both inner unity and outward finality, in contrast with the Chinese style, which floats as it were in the air. Despite this close approach to European method of representation, however, he still remains completely Japanese; he sees nature with his own eyes, and by virtue of his poetic feeling and largeness of conception he discovers qualities in her which we had failed to appreciate: effects produced by the simplest means, a stretch of flat country, a few tall tree-trunks, a steep mountain-slope, a glimpse of the coastline far below our feet, or of a broad whirlpool, and the like. Not line in itself, not the contour of a mountain or tree, not the idyllic or heroic character of a locality; but the mood of a landscape seen in a certain light and from a certain point of view—this it is that moves the artist to fix it with his brush. It is in this sense, and not in regard to technique, which, on the contrary, is always of quite architectural precision, that one may speak of impressionism in the landscapes of Hiroshige and his contemporaries; and it is accordingly Hiroshige who, as he himself learnt from Europe, so in turn contributed most of any Japanese artist to the further development of European art.
Royal Print Room, Dresden
probably appeared the Kisokaido, the sixty-nine stations of the inland road. As in all these sheets the localities are rendered with great conscientiousness, so the figures also, if somewhat summarily drawn, are still very correct and characteristic in their movements. Peculiar to Hiroshige are the landscapes of triptych form and compositions of very large kakemono-ye format.
Hiroshige is supposed to have lived in Yedo from 1846 to 1849, and in the fifties he acquired a special reputation for his views of this city. The change in his style, the transition from the broad and powerful manner of his earlier work to the sharper and more delicate drawing of his later years, but especially the change in his signature, from the Japanese cursive to the Chinese square style, has led some to suppose that there were two artists of the same name, a Hiroshige I. and a Hiroshige II., which latter did not become an artist until late in life, and sojourned in Yedo during the years above mentioned. Quite apart from the fact that Strange's statement of this view suffers from obscurity and contradictions, there is no need whatever for such a supposition, if we consider how gradually and through what intermediate stages the change in the artist's signature was made. Moreover, the change in Hiroshige's style is sufficiently explained both by his increasing age and the progress of the times.
Although Hiroshige was never concerned, even in the good impressions of his works, to reproduce in colour the more delicate charms of nature and the multiplicity of her tones, yet he always strove by a few well-blended colours to effect a monumental impression. In the ordinary prints, on the contrary, the very ones that have found widest circulation, the complete decay of Japanese wood-engraving is already evident in the repellent effect of the crude and harsh aniline dyes employed. Reproduction in Gonse, i. 88 (snow-scene), p. 108 (the same), and p. 298 (bridge in rain).
- A girl awaking, large, about 1822, according to Fenollosa, No. 412.
- Yoshitsune and the tengus (monsters with beaks like a bird's).
- Dragon flying up into the air.
- Parrot on tree, large, about 1840, according to Fenollosa, No. 429.
- A hawk on a pine-branch, very large, about 1842.
- Storks and rice-fields, large, about 1848.
- White heron among the reeds.
- White stork flying over iris.
- Travellers on the highroad, large, about 1825, according to Fenollosa, No. 413.
- Mountain landscape in snow, very large, 2 sheets, about 1843.
- Yedo by night, large, about 1848.
- The fox-fire, i.e. will-o'-the-wisps represented by foxes that are gathered by night around a large solitary tree; medium size, late.
- Naruto rapids, near Kioto, 1846.
- Beach in moonlight.
- Mountains in snow, about 1850, excellent.
- A gentleman in a plum orchard, in collaboration with Kunisada, beautiful, about 1850.
Illustrated works and series:—
- The history of the 47 Ronin, 11 double sheets.
- Kwannon reigenku, the 100 wonders of the Kwannon, 34 sheets, fol., in the upper part of each sheet a sanctuary of the Kwannon, in the lower a miracle; the latter by Kunisada.
- Kioka hiaku ninitsishu, comic verses of the 100 poets, 8vo, light brush drawings in two tones.
- Keisai ukiyo gwafu, 3 vols., 8vo, the two first by Keisai, the third by Hiroshige, in several tones.
- Sohitsu gwafu, 3 small vols, of sketches.
- A series of birds, 12 sheets.
- A series of the fishes, oblong folio.
Vever Collection, Paris
- Eight celebrated localities of the Omi province.
- Eight views of Lake Biwa.
- Eight views of Kanazawa.
- Fuji no hiakuzu, 36 views of Fuji, 1820, mostly only in blue and green.
- Tokaido fukei sogwa, views of the 53 stations of the Tokaido, 55 sheets, oblong folio.
- Tokaido, small, 1851?
- Kinka shu, "Collection of beautiful flowers," views of Tokaido, 1858.
- Kisokaido, views of the 69 stations of the mountain road from Kioto to Yedo in the interior, oblong folio.
- Yehon Yedo miyage, "Souvenir of Yedo," scenes from Yedo, ten small volumes, about 1850. A hundred views of Yedo, 1856. Yamato jinbutsu, types and scenes from the streets of Yedo, 4 vols. 8vo, according to the four seasons. Yedo meisho hiakkei, the environs of Yedo, 120 sheets folio, one of his most beautiful series, 1820, 2 vols.
- Kioto meisho.
Beside and after Hiroshige there remain but few masters to be mentioned. Yoshitoshi, the pupil of Kuniyoshi, is the last artist mentioned by Fenollosa (Catalogue, No. 447). Among his work is a hermit sitting in the snow under a roof of foliage, oblong. Kwa Setsu's well-known book of silhouettes, 33 sheets in folio (Burty, No. 716), dates from about 1840. Sugakudo distinguished himself by his representations of birds and flowers, the Shiki no Kwacho, Seasons of Birds and Flowers, which appeared in 1861 in folio (Burty Catalogue, No. 522). Lastly, Shofu Kiosai, the pupil of Hokusai, born in 1831, deserves to be mentioned on account of his humorous animal representations (see above p. 180; for a detailed account of him, see Brinckmann, 208 ff.). Anderson's Japanese Wood-Engraving (fig. 33) gives a reproduction from him. Shibata Zeshin is also to be mentioned (Brinckmann, p. 212 f.). Renzan is the author of a large oblong surimono with a good and spirited representation of a tiger, about 1860.
Since the opening up of Japan to Europeans and the spread of anti-national views, the art of the country has entirely receded, and has preserved only a thin thread of purely technical tradition. It is not from petrifaction, as in China, but owing to the unfavourable conditions, the dissolution of the relationship which binds the artist to his public, that Japanese art has perished. There was no lack of talent that could have advanced art, just as well as in the eighteenth century; tentative steps had been taken toward new formations, towards extending the circle of representation and opening up new modes of conception. The public, however, which alone could have furthered such tendencies, was wanting. It contented itself with bad actor-likenesses and was amused by indifferent illustrations. Therefore it received the art that it deserved.
If we should ask, in conclusion, whether it is conceivable that the Japanese will ever again attain a characteristic and important art on the basis of the ancient traditions, the answer, it would seem, must be in the negative. Ancient culture and modern civilisation are mutually exclusive notions. Japan has chosen the latter path and indeed was probably bound to choose it, if she did not wish to be crushed out of existence in the strife of the nations. That choice, however, compelled her to renounce her past completely, more completely even than Europe, which has been spared such an abrupt transition. A new Japanese art would of necessity have to be founded on an entirely new basis, which could certainly not be that of European art.
- Anderson Cat., p. 364; Strange, p. 80; Cat. Bing, No. 289 f.
- Anderson Cat., p. 363; Strange, p. 38; Cat. Bing, No. 292 .
- Anderson Cat., p. 366; Goncourt, Hokousaï, p. 342; Cat. Bing, No. 329.
- Anderson Cat., p. 369.
- Anderson Cat., p. 363; Fenollosa Cat, No. 393; Strange, p. 57.
- Anderson Cat., p. 449; Strange, p. 58.
- Anderson Cat., p. 366; Strange, pp. 50, 114; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 394-400, 444-447; Cat. Burty, No. 233 ff., 262 ff.; Bing. Cat., No. 693 ff.
- Anderson Cat., p. 419; idem., Japanese Wood-Engraving, p. 58; Strange, p. 102; Madsen, p. 137; Brinckmann, p. 211; Cat. Burty, No. 135.
- Anderson Cat., p. 365; Strange, pp. 76, 113; Madsen, p. 137; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 405-411; Cat. Burty, No. 699; Bing Cat., No. 668 ff.
- Anderson Cat., p. 367; idem., Japanese Wood-Engraving; Strange, p. 52; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 401-404; Cat. Burty, No. 299 ff., 242; Bing. Cat., No. 672 ff.
- Anderson Cat., p. 369; Strange, pp. 83, 110-112; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 412-447; Bing Cat., No. 617 ff.; Cat. Burty, No. 379 ff., 705; Cat. Goncourt.
- The discovery that there was actually a Hiroshige II. has been definitely made by Mr. J. S. Happer, but this younger Hiroshige is of very minor importance.
- The ancient coast road from Kioto to Yedo, through Kanazawa, Odawara, Hakone, Nunazu, Shizuoka, Kakegawa, Hamamatsu, Okasaki, Miya, Minakuchi, &c.