Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/405

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NINETEENTH-CENTURY ARTISTS

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probably appeared the Kisokaido, the sixty-nine stations of the inland road. As in all these sheets the localities are rendered with great conscientiousness, so the figures also, if somewhat summarily drawn, are still very correct and characteristic in their movements. Peculiar to Hiroshige are the landscapes of triptych form and compositions of very large kakemono-ye format.

Hiroshige is supposed to have lived in Yedo from 1846 to 1849, and in the fifties he acquired a special reputation for his views of this city. The change in his style, the transition from the broad and powerful manner of his earlier work to the sharper and more delicate drawing of his later years, but especially the change in his signature, from the Japanese cursive to the Chinese square style, has led some to suppose that there were two artists of the same name, a Hiroshige I. and a Hiroshige II., which latter did not become an artist until late in life, and sojourned in Yedo during the years above mentioned. Quite apart from the fact that Strange's statement of this view suffers from obscurity and contradictions, there is no need whatever for such a supposition, if we consider how gradually and through what intermediate stages the change in the artist's signature was made. Moreover, the change in Hiroshige's style is sufficiently explained both by his increasing age and the progress of the times.[1]

Although Hiroshige was never concerned, even in the good impressions of his works, to reproduce in colour the more delicate charms of nature and the multiplicity of her tones, yet he always strove by a few well-blended colours to effect a monumental impression. In the ordinary prints, on the contrary, the very ones that have found widest circulation, the complete decay of Japanese wood-engraving is already evident in the repellent effect of the crude and harsh aniline dyes employed. Repro-

  1. The discovery that there was actually a Hiroshige II. has been definitely made by Mr. J. S. Happer, but this younger Hiroshige is of very minor importance.