Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/269

This page has been validated.



The great and aristocratic school of the Torii, which had stamped its impress upon wood-engraving in its primitive stages, and had played a determining part in all its subsequent changes and developments, from the hand-coloured black and white print through the two- and three-colour prints, had for a decade past been rather relegated to the background, when, about the middle of the seventies of the eighteenth century, (Tori­) () (Kiyo­) (naga)Torii Kiyonaga took the lead, thenceforth to dominate the art of Japanese wood-engraving through two decades, and to bring it to such a culmination as only Moronobu had achieved equally undisputedly, just one hundred years before. The far-reaching innovation brought about by the invention of the perfect polychrome print (1765) had meanwhile diverted the aim of this art, which till then had consisted in realising as fully as possible an entirely personal intuition, in the direction of a pleasing play of form and colour. Such must have appeared to the old school incompatible with its hitherto so simple and yet so vigorous activity. More suddenly even than in ancient Florence the school of Giotto yielded to the victorious onset of the new generation, the Torii school disappeared before the revolutionising activity of the three young masters, Harunobu, Shigemasa, and Shunsho. The creative energy of this school, cultivated and perfected through generations, was, however, destined to receive, after a decade of repose devoted to careful preparation, a final and supreme incarnation in Kiyonaga, who brought to