Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/80

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

sheets are too few in number—in the eighteenth century, the best period, e.g., some of the years 1743 (Shigenaga), 1765 (Harunobu), 1783 (Kiyonaga), 1795 (Utamaro)—to give us a precise chronology by their help alone. It is true that the styles of coiffure, to which Fenollosa rightly attaches great weight, constitute a very material aid to the exact dating of individual prints; but how, we may ask, can he know what the fashion of any particular year may have been, for purely stylistic considerations cannot, as has been shown, have given him the required information? We know of no such thing in Japan as a fashion paper, no chronicle of the yearly changes of taste such as we have in Europe. There does, however, exist one source of information, a source from which Fenollosa, as he himself states, has drawn lavishly, by which all mutations of dress and especially of coiffure can be followed up as accurately as need be. This source is the illustrated books, which are in the majority of cases dated. They are the basis of Fenollosa's powers and the key to the astonishing results of his researches. If he had included these illustrated books, as he did the paintings, in the New York Exhibition and his catalogue, their relation to his whole work would have immediately appeared, and his results would have become still more instructive and convincing, since they enable us to trace the changes not merely of fashions but of style in the individual artists, who as we know were frequently the same as those who produced the single sheets.

Fenollosa, unhappily, succumbed to heart-disease in London on the 21st September 1908, without having had time to write the exhaustive history of Japanese painting and wood-engraving which he projected. Besides the works already mentioned he edited the small but important Catalogue of the exhibition at Tokio (1898) and published the splendidly got-up work, The Masters of Ukiyoye.