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JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS

and the colouring, pitched in a somewhat higher key than that of Shunshō and Suzuki Harunobu, was almost unequalled in decorative quality, even amongst the beautiful works of his associates. Kitagawa Utamaro, a pupil of Toriyama Sékiyen, who has been honoured by a monograph from the pen of M. de Goncourt, is for many authorities the most shining light of Japanese chromoxylography. He has left two albums, both distinguished by the perfection of the colour scheme. One of these, the Momo chidori kioka awasé consisting of pictures of birds and flowers with comic verselets, is technically one of the best examples of Japanese colour-printing, and may be noticed also for the bold use the engraver has made of uninked blocks to produce an embossing of the paper surface. The other, the Seiro nenjiu gioji, or Annual of the Courtesan Quarter (1804) is a specimen of his best manner; but his reputation depends mainly upon his broadside representations of women. These have remarkable charm of line, pose, and composition, but the effect is marred by the ungraceful mannerisms perverting the drawing of the faces and limbs. In colour they rank next to those of Harunobu, Kiyonaga, and Kioden. According to M. de Goncourt he died in 1806, at the age of fifty-two.

With Utamaro may be classed Hosoï Yeishi. This artist was a pupil of Kano Yeisen, a member of the classical Kano School of painting, but he devoted the efforts of his prime to designing coloured broadsides. He left one volume of chromoxylographic pictures, the Onna San-jiu-rok' kasen (1798), a series of portraits of the celebrated female poets of Japan, engraved by Yamaguchi Matsugoro and Yamaguchi Seizo, and it is interesting to note that Hokusai made his début in the higher grades of book illustration by a coloured frontispiece to the same work. His broadsides were nearly all portraits of women, as graceful, as conventional, and as unlike the living persons they were supposed to represent as those of Utamaro. Yeizan also was especially in repute for his drawings of women.

Hokusai has been named last, although as pupil and master his labours cover more than forty years of the period under consideration. Great as was his influence in the cause of popular art, his work had little effect upon the progress of chromoxylography, and it will hence be more fitting to speak of him in association with the book illustrators.