Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/274

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

mannerisms arose—the one-sidedly decorative element in drawing receded, effects of this kind being attempted by colour rendering only. We must not, indeed, suppose that any naturalistic imitation was aimed at; this latter remained, as appears from the lack of perspective and shadows, absolutely foreign to Japanese art during its highest period. But something essentially new had been acquired by the mere fact that, as the figures were conceived in relation to natural realities, it was necessary to give them a fixed position in a real space. By this means the representation was rounded off into a pictorial whole. In place of the background, hitherto only adumbrated by a single tint, there now appeared a definitely indicated interior or a finished landscape, which formerly had been done only incidentally and without full recognition of its necessity. In contrast with previous attempts, Kiyonaga may be regarded as the first real landscapist of Japan. By the choice of his colouring, and especially by the well-considered admixture of yellow tones, he imparted to his representations of outdoor life the charm of a cheerful sunshiny aspect.

The pictorial rounding-off of the design also finally led to an entirely new manner of composition. So far, thought had been given only to the balance of the individual parts, both in black and white and also in the colour-scheme generally; but now the aim was to fill out the given area completely in a manner pleasing to the eye. This Kiyonaga did with perfect mastery. As he had found perfect symmetry for the figures themselves, so also he introduced it, with effortless ease, into the composition as a whole, so that in his representations everything is rendered as with the inevitableness of nature. Each of his compositions, mostly representing women in conversation, following their daily occupations, walking out of doors with their children, forms a completely rounded whole, and yet how many of them form only parts of those great triptych represen-