Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/238

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

from about 1775 the side-wings, which so far had stood off stiffly, begin to bend over, and from 1776 the little queue at the back disappears entirely. About the middle of the seventies begins Harunobu's rivalry with Kiyonaga, against whose influence, however, he was unable to hold his ground. In 1777 he stood at the height of his powers, but by the end of the same decade his types began to get common and monotonous. About 1787 he even began to imitate his rival Kiyonaga. His books with black and white illustrations were published from 1777 to 1780.

Koriusai, like Harunobu, was a master in the use of blind printing, especially for indicating dress patterns. He employed it in a specially masterly manner on a series of original representations of the zodiac, drawings of animals of wonderful variety and with a splendour of colour that makes them perhaps the most triumphant success of Japanese colour-printing and certainly stamps them as the high-water mark of this artist's work, to which none of his other productions can be compared. In this style we have by him fighting cocks, red and white, parrots which are left in white on a ground of a beautiful brick red. He was noted for his representations of animals in general: among others may be mentioned a crane's nest, an eagle which has seized a pheasant, a white crane in the snow, the Howo bird above clouds, cranes at sunrise, ducks in the reeds, pheasants, and lastly, a fat white cat about to pounce on some butterflies, partly in blind printing.

Especially celebrated is his series of fifteen medium-sized sheets, in which the black of the background plays an important part, each depicting a courtesan in a magnificently patterned robe, with two young attendants; this series he began about 1777 and brought to a close about 1780. Of his early period there is a series of eight charming sheets representing the different periods of the day by female figures. A series of erotic prints, small oblong, are very delicate in colour.