Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/43

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GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

9

avocation. But little trouble was commonly taken with the woodcuts intended for illustrative purposes, and the work was mostly ordinary black-and-white. But to colour-prints, whether published in book form or as single sheets, the artists devoted their utmost skill. Had not a considerable value attached to these productions even at their first appearance, comparatively large numbers of good copies would not have survived to the present day.

These woodcuts in fact were, just as in Europe, developed from the art of book-illustration and were not intended as a substitute for painted pictures; and to make this quite clear, it is necessary to indicate briefly the generically different shape in which Japanese woodcuts and Japanese pictures appear. Whereas the cuts of the good periods are as a rule approximately in large or small quarto, the pictures follow the Chinese model and are designed either (a) as kakemonos, long bands suspended vertically, or (b) as makimonos, rolls unwrapped horizontally. In the case of the kakemono, the true picture of the Far East, the painting itself is usually mounted on a frame of rich brocade. One, generally, or at most three, of these pictures are hung on the wall, invariably in the tokonoma or recess, where the censer, the flower-vase, and the candlestick are also to be found as a rule. The picture is changed from time to time, and on the occasion of a friend's visit or the reception of a distinguished stranger the most valuable and venerable piece in the collection is selected for exhibition. On the other hand, the long horizontal rolls called makimonos, which often measure fifteen yards or more, are usually spread out on the floor to be looked at. Originally they constituted the manuscript books of the Japanese and Chinese; then illustrations were added to the text, gradually encroached on it more and more, and finally ousted the letterpress altogether. The makimono was the favourite form of picture during the