Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/180

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76

Japanese Colour-Prints

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.[1] 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[2] 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
  1. Tokio Cat., p. 38.
  2. Japanese Wood-Engraving, No. 7.