Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/402

This page has been validated.



tall tree-trunks, a steep mountain-slope, a glimpse of the coastline far below our feet, or of a broad whirlpool, and the like. Not line in itself, not the contour of a mountain or tree, not the idyllic or heroic character of a locality; but the mood of a landscape seen in a certain light and from a certain point of view—this it is that moves the artist to fix it with his brush. It is in this sense, and not in regard to technique, which, on the contrary, is always of quite architectural precision, that one may speak of impressionism in the landscapes of Hiroshige and his contemporaries; and it is accordingly Hiroshige who, as he himself learnt from Europe, so in turn contributed most of any Japanese artist to the further development of European art.

(Hiro­) (shige) Hiroshige, also called Ichiriusai, was born in the year 1797 and died of cholera in 1858, at the age of sixty-one.[1] Having begun life as a member of the fire-brigade, he served his apprenticeship under Toyohiro and seems to have started his artistic career about 1820. His Thirty-six Views of Fuji are assigned to this year. At first he also produced representations of actors, of women, &c, as did the other artists; and he illustrated various books even into the thirties. From the middle of the twenties he doubtless devoted himself particularly to landscape, while also working zealously at animal renderings, principally birds and fishes. It is not certain when he produced his principal work in landscape, the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, in oblong folio; but as we may rightly assume that his earliest landscapes are also his best, and these undoubtedly belong to his best, we shall certainly not go far wrong in dating them about 1830, remembering Hokusai's landscape work of the same time. He produced several similar sets of the Tokaido, particularly a small one, also one for which Kunisada drew the figures, &c. About the same time as the large Tokaido there

  1. Anderson Cat., p. 369; Strange, pp. 83, 110-112; Fenollosa Cat., Nos. 412-447; Bing Cat., No. 617 ff.; Cat. Burty, No. 379 ff., 705; Cat. Goncourt.