Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/320

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

enables him to render the hair of women, especially when hanging loosely down during the toilet, with a combined precision and softness within the deep black never elsewhere attained. Particular care was necessary in the printing of his blocks owing to the fineness of the detail, and for the same reason he attached the utmost importance to their colouring. No other Japanese artist understands so well as he how to attain an extremely harmonious and yet rich effect with a few colours, such as grey, light brown, and dark green. Where more lively colours are employed they are modified or combined with each other by a skilful application of green spaces, or else they run gradually into lighter tones and even dissolve into another colour. By quite imperceptibly delicate tinting he contrives to bring out the background or the flesh tones; in his large heads he is fond of using for the background the so-called mica, or dust of mother-of-pearl, which still further enhances the silky gloss of good Japanese paper. In short, he may fitly be called the first colourist of his nation.

Among his compositions, the large representations in several divisions play an important part. Among them is one of eight sheets:—

  • A popular festival.

Also one of seven sheets:—

  • The procession of the Korean ambassador, represented on the day of the Niwaka (carnival) by geishas with peaked green hats; executed before 1790, according to Kurth, who gives a reproduction of it (pl. 12).

One of six sheets:—

  • A wedding and celebrations after the wedding (Hamburg).

Some of five sheets:—

  • The boys' festival, with the picture of Shoki, the destroyer of demons and the guardian spirit of boys, on a kakemono.
  • The New Year's fair, a boy in the throng holding up a little pagoda.