Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/197

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I. The Two-colour Print—2. The Two-colour Print—3. The Polychrome Print

1. The Two-colour Print.—Our mental picture of the development of Japanese wood-engraving has taken on quite another aspect now that we do not, as until recently, date back the beginning of colour-printing, first with two, then with three, and then with several colour blocks, to 1710, but place it, on Fenollosa's authority, in the beginning of the forties of the eighteenth century. It follows from this modification that during the whole interval between these two dates black and white still predominated exclusively, though with growing importance and perfection of hand colouring.[1] When then, about the year 1743, colour-printing with two blocks, rose and green, was introduced—an invention that we perhaps owe to Shigenaga—it was at once generally adopted among the leading artists, so that it may be regarded as a distinguishing mark of the fifth and sixth decades. The colouring of black and white prints did not cease at once, but gradually retired to the background. Towards the end of the fifties a third block was added, perhaps yellow in the beginning, changing later to blue; then followed in quick succession several attempts to heighten the colour effect by modifying and combining the colours, and it was not long

  1. Prints coloured by hand are called urushi-ye; colour prints nishike-ye.