Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/81

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GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

27

In 1897 there at last appeared a compendious History of Japanese Wood-Engraving, by Edward F. Strange, of the staff of the South Kensington Museum. Although not altogether devoid of a sense of artistic values, it yet devotes far too much time to all sorts of unessentials, such as the life-history, the surnames and the residences of the artists, while in most cases dismissing their artistic activity with a few general phrases. Its greatest shortcoming, however, is that it gives a totally false impression of the development of Japanese wood-engraving, that it discusses the art of the nineteenth century, of which alone the author appears to have had an adequate and firsthand knowledge, in altogether disproportionate detail, to the neglect of the eighteenth century, which is historically the most important, while in the nineteenth century there are, except Hokusai and Hiroshige, very few names that count. The author has herein shown that he has not approached his task with the necessary seriousness and love of his subject, so that there is a suggestion of commercialism about the whole book which is likely to do the study of Japanese art more harm than good. Strange had, however, not yet been able to make use of Fenollosa's fundamental catalogue of 1896. He further published a book, Japanese Colour-Prints, in 1904.

In the same year (1897) the first edition of the present work was published. In 1900 Duret published a list of illustrated books which had been acquired for the Print-Room of the Bibliothèque Nationale. Several sale catalogues which have appeared since 1902 have advanced our knowledge of the subject. Since 1904 Perzinski has published several short but discriminating essays on Japanese wood-engravings. In 1907 Kurth published a comprehensive work on Utamaro.

Japanese notices about artists of the older period are con-