Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/46

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japanese colour-prints

of representation which have developed since the sixteenth century. Although the Chinese method of Indian ink washing and shading has been taken up by many Japanese, even by whole schools in former centuries, it has very naturally received no recognition in wood-engraving, to which it is not applicable. Since the third dimension is never represented in Japanese pictures, no opportunity offered in xylographic drawings for rendering it with the brush, which is peculiarly well adapted to such work. Nor again is the Japanese artist under any temptation to represent relief by parallel or cross hatching—a process which, as Brinckmann rightly points out, is no less completely conventional than any other; only the reason lies not, as he supposes, in the use of the brush instead of a harder medium, for the Japanese with his brush can produce far finer and more uniform lines than the European draughtsman with his implements, as the absolute purity of Japanese outline conclusively proves. Rather is it the case that the Japanese has no occasion to employ strokes in this way. His attention being always concentrated on the decorative value of this design as a whole, what he principally aims at is, besides expressive contour, a suitable distribution and co-ordination of his colour-surfaces, more especially the proportion of dark, often unbroken black masses to lighter masses. Hatching, adds Brinckmann, is only found where the nature of the object to be rendered requires it, as in the case of a horse's mane, a tiger's skin, a peacock's tail, or the bark of a tree-trunk. To indicate modelling within the contour of an object treated as simply black, it is usual to leave white lines within the black mass.

When the drawing is thus completed on the paper, which is thin and of very hard surface, and if necessary may be rendered more transparent by a damp rub over or slight moistening with oil, it is pasted, as has been said, on the block.

The block generally consists of a species of very hard cherry-