Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/297

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1. Yeishi—2. Utamaro—3. Toyokuni.

1. Yeishi.—When towards the year 1790 Kiyonaga retired from the scene, he bequeathed his heritage to three masters, who had already perfected their powers during the eighties, took the lead during the nineties, and continued to hold it until the beginning of the nineteenth century. These three were Yeishi, Utamaro, and Toyokuni. They represent, no longer indeed the greatest strength and richness, yet the extremest refinement of Japanese wood-engraving, more especially Utamaro. Yeishi, as well as Utamaro, introduced a new element into this art of the people, as they both proceeded from the aristocratic Kano school which had been trained on Chinese models. In the place of the charming daintiness with which Harunobu, the heir of the primitives, endowed his women, and the healthy fulness that distinguished Kiyonaga's simple figures, we now meet with a refinement in stature, carriage, and expression which bears witness to a general change in manners and increased demands on life, resulting in a modification of the ideal of beauty. Woman, though she be often only the simple woman of the people or the courtesan, continues henceforth to play, as generally in the Japanese art of the eighteenth century, and in infinitely heightened measure at the end of this period, the chief part in pictorial representations. She always appears as a princess, tall and slender of figure, of queenly carriage and a