Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/92

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34

Japanese Colour-Prints

winning a name for himself; and it was not until the seventeenth century that a really popular, or, according to the Japanese ideas, plebeian school arose, of which the maturest fruit is that colour-printing to which we are about to give our attention. Kanaoka's clan was continued in his son Aimi, whose son again was Kintada; Hirotaka, Kanaoka's grandson, continued the school in the tenth century. To him is ascribed "The Death of Buddha," in the British Museum,[1] which is akin to the style of the Chinese painter Wu Tao Tze, and is remarkable for its expressiveness.

Although Chinese influence subsequently continued even down to our own century, at times in fact grew in strength, still Japanese painting must have retained its independence, as otherwise it would be inexplicable that at the end of the tenth century Japanese paintings were presented as a gift to the Chinese court, where the most exacting standards of taste had always obtained.[2] The difference between Japanese and Chinese art methods is brought out by the discerning Le Blanc du Vernet, in a small work that appeared anonymously, Le Japon artistique et littéraire (p. 11), where he remarks that, while the art of the cool and sceptical Chinese was usually methodical, exact, dainty, and "precious," that of the Japanese, corresponding to their character, had become in all respects free, lively, cheerful, and full of variety. We must emphasise, he says, the fact that Japanese art did not fall into slavish imitation, but that it took over from the art of the Celestial empire only experience, method, and technique, and by applying these to national subjects, developed an independent style that possessed more elegance, creative power, mobility, and pliancy than did that of the "Celestials." Yeshin Sozu, who died in 1017 at the age of seventy-six, is mentioned as one of the most remarkable Buddhistic painters of this period.

  1. Binyon, pl. 5.
  2. Hirth, Fremde Einflüsse, p. 73.