Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/83

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Chapter II

A survey of the history of Japanese painting

Since Japanese wood-engraving grew out of Japanese painting and represents no more than one stage, though a peculiar stage, of development of this branch of art, it is necessary to give a short survey of the history of Japanese painting.

The art of painting, like all the other arts, poetry and science, found its way to Japan from China, the mother-country of East-Asiatic culture, through Korea, about the fifth century after Christ. Until then Japan had been sunk in deep barbarism, but being a powerful and advancing State she had, in the third century a.d., exacted tribute from Korea, which was saturated with Chinese culture. The Japanese received from Korea, along with other accomplishments and handicrafts, the art of painting. In the second half of the fifth century there came to the court of Japan a Chinese painter of imperial birth, by name Nanriu, who took up his abode there permanently. We also know of Korean painters of the sixth and seventh centuries who were employed at the Japanese court.[1]

These Korean painters introduced not only the Chinese tradition, but also another, destined to have an equally lasting influence upon the formation of Japanese painting—namely, the Buddhistic. This latter, as it seems, originated under late Greek influences in the north-west of India, and had found its

  1. Gierke, p.11; Anderson, Transact., p. 339 ff.