Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/16

This page has been validated.

vi

PREFACE

affected by the affinities we discern between our own ideals and those of these artists, in whom the European leaven had begun to work. If, however, we try, like Fenollosa, to take the Japanese point of view, we shall recognise that Hokusai's real greatness lies in those very elements of his art which are most alien to us; and we shall see, further, that among the innumerable masters of the eighteenth century, there were many who were greatly superior to him. The art of the nineteenth century, with which alone the general public is to some extent familiar, has been given an importance far in excess of its deserts. It was at best an aftermath, and in some respects a decadence. I have therefore dealt with it somewhat summarily, whereas I have traced the developments of the eighteenth century, constituting a rich, a steady and a varied evolution, with all possible care and elaboration. My book is a provisional essay in the synthetic presentment of our knowledge of Japanese Colour-Printing, and a guide for those who require some direction in this, as yet by no means familiar field. I have made no attempt at exhaustive treatment, for any such a scheme would be impossible of execution, in the face of the contradictions which abound in the literature bearing on my subject in different countries. The collector must not look here for a treatise which will relieve him from the necessity of independent research or verification. Certain inequalities of the work may be explained by its genesis. Where the material on which I had to work was better prepared, as, for instance, in the case of Utamaro and Hokusai by the Goncourts, I was of course able to offer more. I have not shrunk from repetition on occasion, when it seemed necessary to emphasise notable facts or to impress important views on the reader. With few exceptions, I have relied upon Fenollosa's Catalogue in describing the development of Japanese Colour-Printing, and the characteristics of the individual artists. I trust I have in every instance