Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/225

This page has been validated.



possible means. Harunobu himself sometimes augmented the number of his blocks to seven or even to ten, but what makes him most famous, besides the subtle harmony of his colours, is their purity and unimpaired brilliancy. This radiance, which is peculiar to him and which contrasts most strongly both with the dull colouring of the primitives and with the subdued tones of all the later great masters of the colour-print, Shunsho, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, reminds us forcibly of the gay and sensuous colour-scheme of the Chinese, and leads to the conclusion that Harunobu received the impulse of his revolutionary innovation from the common birthplace of all Eastern-Asiatic culture. The fact that he borrowed the material for his pictures of woman's life from masters like Shunsui and Tsunemasa also points to such a connection. Colour-printing underwent a further development in the beginning of the nineteenth century, in the surimono, a square congratulatory picture, printed sometimes with as many as thirty blocks, and with the aid of all imaginable metallic tints. However admirable this may be in technical respects, it cannot be regarded as especially productive from an artistic point of view, inasmuch as such multiplication of means is after all no more than a tour de force.