Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/242

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

considering how shy our time is of colour, be a normal phenomenon. For that reason, painters will not easily be convinced that in neither case are the changes intentional.

2. Shigemasa.—In the year 1764, one year before the invention of the polychrome print, there first appear those artists whose vocation it was, as followers of Harunobu, to control and direct Japanese art in its further development: Shigemasa, Shunsho, and Kiyonaga. The first two of these will be treated of in this chapter, as their principal activity, like that of Koriusai, the immediate follower of Harunobu, falls in the seventies. Kiyonaga, however, whose full influence was not felt until the beginning of the eighties, simultaneously with that of Shunsho's pupils, will be discussed in a separate chapter, more especially as he represents, on his own merits, the high-water mark of Japanese wood-engraving.

Shunsho, like Hokusai, is apt to be overrated, as he is better known and especially pleasing to the eye. The merit, however, of having, after Harunobu, effected the transition from the style of the old period to that of the new, belongs undoubtedly to Shigemasa, who, besides, deserves especial attention as one of the best draughtsmen among Japanese artists. Like Harunobu, (Kita­) () (Shige­) (masa)Kitao Shigemasa, also called Kosuisai, was a pupil of the aged pioneer Shigenaga. He also signed himself Sekkosai, Kwaran, Tairei, and, as calligrapher, Ichiyosai. Born in 1739, he began about 1764 with actor prints in three colours, and went over in 1765, together with Harunobu, to the polychrome print, which he cultivated until the beginning of the eighties without having to fear the rivalry of Kiyonaga, who had now come to his full powers, and before whom all other contemporaries retreated.[1] He was still painting as late as the middle of the eighties, but then seemingly retired, though he

  1. Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 114, 204-216; Anderson Cat., p. 344; Cat. Burty, No. 197 ff.; Strange, p. 86.