Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/221

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DEVELOPMENT OF COLOUR-PRINTING

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also the close of an old period in this respect as well, that he himself, in the first years of his activity (towards the end of the fifties) produced a few things still entirely in the style of the old school. Those worth mention are principally two-colour prints (only a few of these exist), for example, a picture of wrestling actors of such power and fierceness that we can hardly recognise in it the refined and delicate master of later years; further, a triptych with single figures. In the employment of broad black masses he shows a sense of grandeur in style which goes beyond his teacher and points directly back to Masanobu himself.

His three-colour prints also are few in number, but of especial importance as a preparatory step toward the complete polychrome print. He produced in this style chiefly kakemono-ye, long, very narrow sheets, which, like the paintings, could be fastened on the pillars of the houses. Masanobu had already attempted this species, and with success, but it was left for Harunobu to establish finally this form, which remained a special favourite until the end of the century. Peculiar skill was demanded in order to dispose a single figure on an extremely limited space so as to keep it both life-like and natural, while yet at the same time producing a decorative effect. Gradually two, three, and at length even more figures were introduced. It was especially the most celebrated artists, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, &c., who cultivated this style by preference. Now Harunobu attempted even in these cases to attain new colour-combinations. On one sheet, representing the delivery of a letter, he employed as his third colour (besides red and blue) not green but yellow, in small spots to heighten the effect of the red; but along with this he obtained a green and a violet by over-printing. In this way he had already five colours at his disposal. But on another sheet, which Fenollosa dates about 1763, a young girl with a monkey, the same three colours are used, the red very deep and

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