Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/344

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

was unable to withstand the universal taste for the exaggerated, he retained always a relatively high degree of naturalness; and where he appears unnatural, it is generally to be explained by the affected attitudes of the actors of the time. Later on, however, his works become coarser. He and Kiyonaga were probably the first to make use of the bluish red which introduced a staring tint hitherto unknown to Japanese wood-engraving. There can be no suggestion of their having employed aniline dyes, as these were not put on the market by Perkins until 1856 and probably did not reach Japan until the sixties. Still, we cannot but feel the extreme gaudiness of the general effect, which appears towards the end of the eighteenth century to be a foreign element and a falling off, perhaps under the influence of China, from the older Japanese seriousness of purpose. It is only because this delicate and bright colour-scheme, which correspondingly modifies the yellows and blues as well, has preserved its original freshness in but very few copies, that we do not recognise it more immediately as a characteristic feature of precisely this period.

Immediately after Toyokuni retired from the field, his pupil, Kunisada, about 1810, continued the activity of his master, at first under his own name; about 1844, however, long after his master's death, that is, he assumed Toyokuni's name. A likeness of Toyokuni is found in Kuniyoshi's Fuzoku komeidan, Anecdotes of Celebrated People, two small volumes, in black and white (Kioto, 1840), on the last page.[1]

Like Hokusai, whose first period he lived through, Toyokuni illustrated tales of Kioden, Bakin, and others. With Kunimasa he published, at the beginning of the nineties, a series of actor pictures, for which Utamaro drew the title; in 1801, he published alone a collection of actor pictures of small size, which may be considered about his best work; in 1802, there

  1. Reproduced in Burty's Cat., No. 65.