Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/365

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HOKUSAI

167

Tokaido, followed by a fifth in 1801; the finest of these is that in the form of small oblong surimonos, no less beautiful an upright one produced at the same time: further, several series treating of the history of the Ronin, one in lateral form, 1798 (illustrated in Strange, p. 64); a second series of eleven sheets in lateral form, also two series, each of twelve sheets, in vertical form. The beautiful large oblong sheet, the Ferry-Boat, is placed by Fenollosa (No. 363) about the year 1798, when Utamaro's influence on him was very noticeable, especially as regards the extreme slenderness of the figures. But he was distinguished favourably from his contemporaries by a healthy breadth of treatment, which he afterwards lost.

The period of his prime was that about 1800. He had mastered perfectly both landscape and figure drawing; his slender, elegant figures move with consummate grace and ease in idyllic spots about the banks of Yedo's many streams, at all seasons and times of day; his colouring is serious, simple, and almost sombre, with a predominance of dark green, dark violet or blue, yellow and grey, similar to Yeishi. The year 1800 was for him particularly fruitful in surimonos, the first of which he had executed about 1793 under the name Mugura Shunro; his output in this field went on increasing until about 1804. Besides the two small volumes Itakobushi, or Chorai zekku, love-songs, of 1801, and the Yehon Chushingura, the history of the Ronin, of 1802, in two volumes, this period witnessed the production of those series of views of Yedo which brought him fully into popular favour: the Yehon Azuma asobi of 1799 (in colours, 1802), the Toto meisho ichiran of 1800 (in the second edition of the same year Toto shokei ichiran), and the Sumidagawa riogan ichiran of 1804. At this time also he drew the unusually broad sheet which shows the two banks of the Sumida as seen from one of the connecting bridges. In 1804 there further appeared one of his most beautiful works: the three-volume