Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/270

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

the service of an art aiming only at the simply great and beautiful, all the means of expression that had meanwhile been perfected. It is significant that his teacher, Kiyomitsu, the last of the pure Torii masters, did not influence the full unfolding of his nature so much as did the most versatile of the newly arisen school of artists, Shigemasa. It is true that Kiyonaga, who was the son of a publisher, had produced, shortly before the beginning of this new period, three-colour actor prints in the old style, but no one could have divined from these productions the future greatness of the man. During the time that Shunsho turned to the neglected field of actor representation and cultivated it in a new style notable for its charm of colour effect, Kiyonaga was collecting his strength while following this new movement with intelligent sympathy. Then he suddenly appears as the fully matured artist, who, thanks to his inherited loftiness of aim and nobility of taste, found it easy to surpass these meritorious yet more or less superficial innovators, to put them aside without an effort, and himself, as it were unintentionally, in their place. In the second half of the seventies he had already brought his own peculiar style to full maturity; from the beginning of the eighties he was the autocrat of wood-engraving, and saw the pupils of his predecessors pass under his banner.[1]

Kiyonaga was born in 1742 and died in 1815 (Hayashi Catalogue). His family name was Seki, his artistic name Ichibei. According to the Tokio Catalogue his activity began about 1760. He became, along with Koriusai and Harunobu, the most important designer of kakemono-ye. Fenollosa[2] has written a good estimate of his art, and reproduces[3] a fine print of about 1786. With the beginning of the seventies he came under the influence

  1. Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 113, 124-61; Anderson Cat., p. 342; Strange, p. 26; Bing Cat., No. 34 ff.; Goncourt Cat., No. 1238 ff.
  2. Outline, p. 39 seqq.
  3. Ibid., pl. xii.