of art, to a spirit of frolic which is absolutely enchanting. He never poses, but always remains simple and natural.
Hishikawa Moronobu, known also by the name of Kichibei, was born about 1646
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
. 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
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
- ↑ Anderson Cat., p. 332; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 3–6; Strange, p. 6.
- ↑ Tokio Cat., p. 13.