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Title: Japanese Colour-Prints and Their Designers
Author: Gookin, Frederick
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                   [HARUNOBU. Lovers walking in Snow.]

                    HARUNOBU. Lovers walking in Snow.

               Japanese Colour-Prints and Their Designers

A Lecture Delivered Before the Japan Society of New York on April 19, 1911

                       By Frederick William Gookin

New York
The Japan Society





HARUNOBU. Lovers walking in Snow.
MORONOBU.  Nobleman and two Ladies at Seashore.
KIYOMASU. Actors’ Boating Party
MASANOBU. Geisha playing Samisen.
TOYONOBU.  Actor reading Letter
KIYOMITSU. Daimyo Procession Game.
HARUNOBU. Young Woman before Torii.
HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.
HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.
HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.
HARUNOBU.  Woman reading Letter.
KORYUSAI.  Musume leaping from Temple Balcony.
SHUNSHO.  Woman in Red.
KIYONAGA.  Holiday Group at Gotenyama.
KIYONAGA. Picnic Party.
BUNCHO.  Actor as Woman talking to Men.
KIYONAGA. Man and two Women approaching Temple.
SHUNCHO.  Women watching Girls bouncing Balls.
EISHI. Fête in a nobleman’s palace.
SHARAKU. Two Actors.
UTAMARO. Woman with a Musical Toy.
TOYOKUNI.  Women in Bath House.
HOKUSAI.  Fuji from Ushibori.
HIROSHIGE.  Pines at Hammamatsu.


In the annals of art production the colour-prints designed by the master
artists of the Ukiyoé school occupy a unique place. They represent a
plebeian art which was not a spontaneous upgrowth from the soil, but, so
to speak, a down-growth or offshoot from an old and highly developed art
of aristocratic lineage.

This elder art had its fountain-head in ancient China. That country,
during the Tang and the Sung dynasties (618-905, 960-1280), was the seat
of an aesthetic movement during which painting and other arts reached an
extraordinarily high development. To the works produced during this great
flowering-time of art the Japanese painters of the classical schools
turned for inspiration and enlightenment. These works were distinguished
by singleness of purpose, rhythmic vitality, and synthetic coherence, and
by a clear conception of the essential that goes far beyond anything
elsewhere attained, and which, when fully apprehended, must inevitably
force a revision of Western ideas and criteria.

The art of ancient China and of the earlier Japanese schools is an art
refined, poetic, and intensive to the last degree. It is based upon
profound understanding of aesthetic laws. The artists were carefully
grounded in the fundamental principles that govern all art, whether
Oriental or Occidental. The result of this training is apparent in the
homogeneity of their works. In Europe very confused notions have prevailed
as to what should be done and what is permissible in art. Not even the
great artists have always seen clearly; had they done so, it cannot be
doubted that Western achievement would have attained a much higher level
than it has ever reached.

In the Japanese modifications of the ancient Chinese art its traditions
and aesthetic ideals were sedulously preserved. With only rare exceptions,
the artists—and under this head it is necessary to include potters,
lacquerers, metal-workers, swordsmiths, and others—were drawn from the
upper classes. Many of them were in the service of the daimyo, and did not
sell their productions, but received from their noble patrons regular
stipends in koku of rice. Seldom did any of their works find their way
into the hands of the common people, who had little opportunity,
therefore, to become familiar with them. Gradually, however, as the number
of paintings, statues, and other art objects multiplied and the temples
were filled with votive offerings, the classical art made its impress upon
buildings, wearing apparel, and utensils of all sorts; its conventions and
principles were laid hold of by all classes and became the heritage of the
entire people.

            [MORONOBU.  Nobleman and two Ladies at Seashore.]

             MORONOBU.  Nobleman and two Ladies at Seashore.

The social fabric in old Japan was one of sharp distinctions. At the upper
end of the scale were the Emperor; the kuge, or court nobles; the daimyo,
or lords of the two hundred and fifty-one provinces; and the samurai, or
hereditary military men, from whom were recruited the officials, priests,
and scholars. Between these and the lower classes was an almost
immeasurable gulf. Highest among the heimen, or commoners, were the
farmers. Below them were the artisans, and still lower were the merchants,
innkeepers, servants, and the like; while lowest of all were the eta, or
outcasts, a class comprising scavengers, butchers, leather-workers, and
others engaged in what were considered degrading occupations.

Under the peaceful regime of the Tokugawa shoguns there was a sociological
change that in the cities almost amounted to a transformation. The most
salient feature was the rise of the tradesmen and artisans to wealth and
power. Many places of amusement sprang up, restaurants and tea-houses
multiplied, jugglers, story-tellers, musicians, and other itinerant
entertainers found audiences in every street, fêtes were frequently held
in the temple compounds, the theatre rose to a position of prominence, and
the yukwaku, or courtesan quarters, with their medley of attractions,
became established institutions.

The art of the Ukiyoé was a direct outcome of the gay life of this time.
The inception of the school dates back to the closing years of the
sixteenth century, when a reaction set in against the Chinese classicism
of the Ashikaga period. This manifested itself in the choice of Japanese
instead of Chinese subjects, and in novel treatment in which features of
both the classic Kano and Tosa styles were combined, but which in many
respects broke away from academic traditions. The reputed leader of the
revolt was Iwasa Shoi, better known as Matahei, son of the Daimyo of
Itami; but other distinguished artists, notably Kano Sanraku, also painted
pictures in the new manner, which was not then held to constitute a
distinct school. The subjects being drawn from the life of the people,
these pictures were called Ukiyoé. É is the Japanese term for a picture or
drawing.(1) Ukiyo, as originally written, had a Buddhistic signification
and was applied to the secular as distinguished from the ecclesiastical
world. Literally the word means “the miserable world,” but as now used it
may be more accurately translated as “the passing (or floating) world of
every-day life.”

Perhaps for the reason that Ukiyoé themes were not considered quite
dignified, and because they did not express poetic ideas, the Ukiyo
paintings of Matahei and his contemporaries and successors, though prized
and much sought after, were seldom signed, and the identification of their
authorship is a matter of extreme difficulty. For more than half a century
works in this manner continued to be produced in considerable numbers, but
the movement did not crystallize into a school until, in the person of
Hishikawa Moronobu, a leader appeared to give it form and direction.
Moronobu was an artist of rare distinction. His paintings were eagerly
sought by the daimyos and the wealthier samurai. But Moronobu was a man of
the people, and it was as a designer of book illustrations and later of
ichimai-yé, or single-sheet prints, that he gave the impetus to Ukiyoé.
For fifty years or more prior to his time books with engraved
illustrations had been published in Japan, but they were comparatively few
and the illustrations were poor and crudely executed. The twelve drawings
Moronobu made for a book of instruction for women in etiquette and
hygiene, published in 1659, marked a decided advance. This, so far as we
know, was the first of a long series of books illustrated by him. Their
popularity was deservedly great, and by them his fame became wide-spread.
The illustrations were printed in black from blocks similar to those from
which the text was printed, and were characterized by fine broad treatment
and a rather wiry but strong and expressive outline.

About 1670 Moronobu began to issue large single-sheet prints which could
be affixed to screens or mounted as kakemono. These prints, which were
impressions in black from one block only, are known as sumi-yé—_sumi_
being the Japanese name for Chinese—or, as we incorrectly call it,
India—ink. They were designed to be coloured by hand, and apparently a
part of the edition was so coloured before being placed on sale by the
publishers. At first this colouring consisted of a few touches of
yellow-green crudely laid on; later it became more elaborate, and
occasionally we meet with prints that are very beautifully coloured, but
in such cases it is impossible to tell when or by whom the colouring was
done. The probability is that in some instances it was the work of
purchasers of the prints.

Moronobu’s pupils, of whom there were many, devoted themselves almost
exclusively to painting. After his death in 1695, the production of prints
fell chiefly into the hands of Torii Kiyonobu and his son Torii Kiyomasu,
two artists who take rank among the most talented men of the Ukiyoé
school. Moronobu had taken for the subjects of his prints historic
incidents, the manners and customs of the people, and, in particular,
women and their occupations and amusements. To these the Torii artists,
seeing a new and fertile field for the print-designer in the rise of the
theatre as a popular form of entertainment, added portraits of actors in
the costumes of their most admired rôles. Especially esteemed were
Kiyonobu’s portraits of the first DanjuÌroÌ. During the Genroku period
(1688-1704) the people developed a passion for the theatre that amounted
to veritable madness. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century this
reached a height that sorely troubled the Tokugawa rulers. To check it
various expedients—among them the exclusion of women from the stage—were
tried. They only added fuel to the flame. Certain gross practices were
abolished. This helped to purify the theatre, but also to perpetuate it by
removing the seeds of what must inevitably have meant its early decay.
Actors of distinguished ability became popular idols. Their comings and
goings were like royal progresses. Wherever they went, were it to view the
cherry blossoms at Ueno, for a boating party on the river, or for a visit
to the Yoshiwara, they moved in state. Yet their rank in the social scale
was so low that they were looked upon as little better than eta. The
earliest actors were contemptuously termed _kawara-mono_ (river-bed folk),
from the fact that the first theatrical performances in Japan were upon a
stage erected in the dry bed of the Kamogawa at Kyoto. The stigma that
attached to their origin and to the vulgarity of the early performances
has never been entirely lifted. Many of the Ukiyoé artists felt it a
degradation to make drawings of actors. Nevertheless the popular demand
created a supply, and for more than a century a large proportion of the
enormous output of prints consisted of theatrical scenes and portraits of
the performers.

                    [KIYOMASU. Actors’ Boating Party]

                     KIYOMASU. Actors’ Boating Party

Many of the prints produced during the early years of the eighteenth
century were large single figures of actors, geishas, and women of the
Yoshiwara. These were broadly treated, with strong, free brush-strokes
based upon the technique of the Kano masters and quite different from
Moronobu’s style, which was more nearly like that of the Tosa painters.
Each of the classical schools, I may explain, had its own peculiar
methods, for which brushes of special shape were required. In their
spontaneity, their freedom, their glorious sweep of line, these prints are
among the finest works of the Ukiyoé school. Among them are many
masterpieces of linear composition. Yet by the people of the upper classes
they were regarded as hopelessly vulgar. Though the Kano painters used
similar sweeping strokes, they laid great stress upon carefully modulated
tone. The notan, or lightness and darkness of the ink in different parts
of the drawing, was an essential quality. It should not be confused with
chiaroscuro, the science of light and shade. Notan signifies merely
difference in lightness and darkness of tone. In the early prints this did
not appear. All the lines were uniformly black. And the addition of
colouring which was looked upon as coarse and gaudy was a further offence
to persons of refined taste.

Our vision not being hampered by the canons of the Kano academy, we can
appreciate the distinguished character of these compositions.
Unquestionably the brush-work of a Sesshu, a Motonobu, or a Tanyu—to name
a few only of the most eminent of the Japanese painters—has a precious
quality not to be found in any printed line.(2) Nevertheless the primitive
Ukiyoé prints have a freshness and vital force peculiarly their own. The
word “primitive” as applied to these prints calls for a word of
explanation. They are primitive, not in their art, which is highly
developed, but merely as regards its application to wood-engraving.

The failure of Japanese connoisseurs to appreciate Ukiyoé art is not,
however, entirely or even principally because of its technique. The art of
the classical schools is deeply imbued with poetic feeling and usually is
dignified in subject. Ukiyoé art, on the contrary, is flippant, whimsical,
comic. Except when it deals with portraits, landscapes, or birds and
flowers—subjects that are not strictly Ukiyoé—it is seldom that the things
depicted are intended to be taken quite seriously. In nearly every picture
there is some joke, open or cleverly hidden, some amusing fantasy in the
shape of a modern analogue or travesty of popular myth, well-known tale,
or historical event. Sly hits at the vices or follies of the aristocrats
are not uncommon. A very large proportion of the subjects deals with the
theatre and the denizens of the Yoshiwara. To the Japanese of the upper
classes Ukiyoé art was a synonym for the art of the underworld. It is not
surprising that they failed to appreciate its merit. To give Ukiyoé
paintings or prints an honourable place in one’s house was a confession of
lack of taste. Were there no other reason, the subjects for the most part
rendered them unfit, if not impossible. The prints were indeed amusing,
and therefore many of them were saved; but they were looked upon much as
we regard the pictures in our comic periodicals. Even when the art in
these is good, it is hard to disassociate it from the humour and to enjoy
it for itself alone. More commonly we fail to appreciate it as art or even
to think of it as such. So it was with the prints. To the Japanese they
appeared little better than children’s toys. In considering this we should
not overlook the important circumstance that when first printed they were
in general less charming than they are to-day. The wonderful colour that
makes them so entrancing has come in large measure through the mellowing
influence of time. Not infrequently this has wrought transformations that
would seem incredible did not close study show clearly the changes that
have taken place.

                   [MASANOBU. Geisha playing Samisen.]

                    MASANOBU. Geisha playing Samisen.

Even to-day inherited prejudice prevents wide-spread appreciation of the
prints in the land of their origin. Our enthusiastic admiration is still
more or less a mystery to our neighbours across the Pacific. Only now,
when most of the fine prints have passed into the hands of European and
American collectors, are the Japanese connoisseurs beginning to understand
how it is that the Western art-lover, unfettered by any traditional point
of view and not disturbed by any meanings the subject may hold or suggest,
is able to perceive the glorious colour, the superb composition, the
masterly treatment and rare beauty to which they have been blind.

The history of art is everywhere among civilized peoples a record of the
influence of a succession of ideas, each in turn dominating for a longer
or a shorter period the character of what is produced. When an idea has
sufficient vitality to constitute the germ of a specific type of art, and
artists of creative genius are inspired by it, the votaries working under
the stimulus of a common ideal form what we designate as a school. “When
left to pursue its course of development unchecked,” each marked type of
art, as John Addington Symonds pointed out in one of his essays, “passes
through stages corresponding to the embryonic, the adolescent, the
matured, the decadent, and the exhausted,” This sequence, he showed, was
clearly marked in the evolution of Italian painting, the Attic and the
Elizabethan drama. Any of the classic schools of Japanese painting, the
Kosé, the Yamato, the Sesshu, or the Kano, would furnish an excellent
illustration, though in studying these movements it would be necessary to
follow them back to their Chinese antecedents. The Ukiyoé school affords a
particularly striking example. In the works of the earlier
artists—Moronobu, Kiyonobu, Kiyomasu, and the KwaigetsudoÌ group—we find
superabundant vigour, swift inspiration, and splendid though sometimes
brutal force. The note of prophecy that these works contain is found also
in those of the next generation of artists, foremost among whom was
Okumura Masanobu. The fire of enthusiasm still glows brightly, but more
attention is paid to subtleties of style, to beauty of detail, and to the
development of technical processes. Hand-coloured prints are superseded by
those in which the colour as well as the black outline is printed. Ukiyoé
has become an art of the printed pictures which in large measure have
taken the place of paintings.

Then, after a brief interval of eager experiment and rapid changes, comes
the flowering-time, when a group of great artists turn out by the thousand
works in which spiritual intensity is combined with grace, beauty,
refinement of composition, and technical perfection. This is the epoch of
Harunobu, ShunshoÌ, Shigemasa, Koryusai, Kiyonaga, and ShunchoÌ.

The decline of the initial impetus that brought the school into being is
plainly apparent in the works of the next generation. Utamaro was an
artist of the very first rank, whose genius cannot be gainsaid; Eishi and
Toyokuni were only a little less brilliant; but it was their misfortune to
come upon the scene when the cycle of animating ideas had been exhausted.
Too virile to be content merely to echo the performances of their
predecessors, they spent their energy in inventing variations upon the
perfected type. It was the only course open to them, but it led steadily
and swiftly downward, though neither the artists nor the people who
gleefully applauded each successive innovation were conscious of the

With the appearance of still another generation of artists upon the scene,
the degradation of the school was complete. Artistic feeling was obscured
by blatant vulgarity and affectation. There was a steady letting down to
the level of the popular taste, which was steadily lowered in consequence.
The skill of the more able artists was expended in the production of works
interesting chiefly as _tours de force,_ more remarkable for technical
than for artistic merit; the tendency toward exaggerated drawing became
more pronounced; colouring grew more crude, raw, and over-vivid.
Coincident with this decline in the art of the Popular School was a change
for the worse in the fashions of the time. Loud patterns for brocades and
other fabrics came into vogue; garments became showy and elaborate;
coiffures, more especially those of the demi-monde, were often startling
in their extravagance. As the prints were accurate mirrors of contemporary
life, in these changed fashions may be found a partial explanation of the
inferiority of the works of the later men. The Ukiyoé RyuÌ was a school of
design which laid its impress upon all of the arts. The prints were but
one of its phases, though the principal and the most distinguished of
them. The rise, culmination, and disintegration took place all along the
line. Toward the middle of the nineteenth century the Ukiyoé school sank
into the dotage of decrepitude, and then into the sleep from which there
is no awakening. I choose this phrase deliberately. An art that is of the
past can never be revived. We may strive to work in the style of Harunobu
or of Kiyonaga. All we can do is to copy their forms and imitate their
mannerisms. We cannot possibly get our inspiration from the same source as
they; that dried up at the fountain-head long ago. The best work we can do
in their style must necessarily lack creative force and be without a spark
of real vitality.

Primarily the charm of the Ukiyoé colour-prints is due to the fact that
the leading masters of the school were artists of exceptional power. It is
also due to the fact that most of them(3) made print-designing their chief
occupation, to which they devoted their thought, time, and skill, and that
with rare exceptions they were less distinguished as painters.

                    [TOYONOBU.  Actor reading Letter]

                     TOYONOBU.  Actor reading Letter

From about 1670, when Moronobu began to issue single-sheet prints, until
about 1742, a period of at least seventy years, the prints were in black
outline and were coloured by hand. They were, in fact, cheap paintings.
Early in the eighteenth century the chief pigment used in colouring them
was red lead. The Japanese name for this pigment is tan, and the prints
upon which it appears are designated as tan-yé. About 1710 yellow and
citrine were commonly used with the tan. Four or five years later a new
style of hand-colouring, said to have been devised by Torii Kiyonobu, came
into vogue and greatly modified the style in which the prints were
designed. In place of tan he substituted beni, a very beautiful but
fugitive red extracted from the saffron. This was used in combination with
a greenish yellow (probably gamboge) and low-toned blues and purples.
Finer details were introduced into the designs, and the colouring in
general was more carefully done. In response to a growing demand for less
expensive pieces smaller prints (hoso-yé) became common. To give
brilliance to the pigments a little thin lacquer (urushi) was mixed with
them, and, while wet, parts of the design were sprinkled with metallic
powder, which was probably applied by blowing it through a small bamboo
tube. These prints were known as urushi-yé, or lacquer prints. A little
later the custom grew up of painting parts of the prints with black

Not until the year 1742 did the practice begin of applying colour by
impressions from flat wood blocks. Why the invention should have been so
long delayed, and why, after it was once made, nearly fourteen years more
should have elapsed before the number of colour-blocks was increased
beyond two, are questions to which no certain answer is yet forthcoming.
It is incredible that during the forty years when innumerable
hand-coloured prints were issued no one should have conceived the idea of
printing the colour as well as the black outline. Without doubt some
practical difficulty connected with the printing stood in the way.
Possibly the thing that awaited discovery was the trick of mixing rice
paste with the colour to keep it from running. Or, as is more likely, it
took a long while to discover a practical method of securing accurate
register in impressions made upon damp paper which was liable to stretch
or shrink during the printing process. Whatever the problem may have been,
the honour of the solution is due to Okumura Masanobu. Being a publisher
as well as an artist, he was no doubt alive to the economic advantage of a
cheaper process and to the attraction of novelty. Some years earlier he
had invented the hashira-yé, or pillar-print, and had also put forth a
series of prints that show a fair understanding of the laws of linear
perspective to which he gave the name of Ukiyé. Being an artist as well as
a publisher, Masanobu perceived that the change in process called for a
change in the style of the designs. The very first of the new prints,
therefore, were characterized by finer and more exquisite detail than was
suitable for the hand-coloured editions. The colours used were beni and a
soft green; and the name beni-yé, which had been applied to the
hand-coloured prints in which beni was used, was also given to them. A
happier selection of colours could not have been made. By thinning the red
and modifying the hue of the green a wide range of effects was secured.
Almost every possible combination and variation was tried during the
fourteen or fifteen years that the beni-yé were in vogue. The world is far
richer because of this long period before the number of colour-blocks was
increased, since time was afforded to work out the decorative
possibilities resulting from the limitation to two colours and black and
white. This limitation demanded fine skill and creative resource in the
invention of pattern and the distribution of the colours employed.(4) The
results achieved were remarkable. Until one has seen them it is impossible
to realize that so much life and vivacity of colouring could be given by
impressions from two blocks charged with rose and green.

                   [KIYOMITSU. Daimyo Procession Game.]

                    KIYOMITSU. Daimyo Procession Game.

By many the beni-yé are regarded as the choicest products of the school.
So charming were they when first printed that they speedily drove the
urushi-yé prints out of the market, with the exception of the tall
hashira-yé, or pillar prints, of which hand-coloured editions continued to
be produced for a year or two, to satisfy those who still wished paintings
rather than prints. Most of the beni-yé that have survived until our time
are very much faded. The beni has quite generally turned into a soft
yellow or disappeared altogether. The green is more stable, but that also
has in many instances become a warm citrine or russet. Extremely rare are
the specimens in which the original colour has not suffered material

From the testimony of the prints themselves it appears probable that very
soon after Okumura Masanobu issued the first prints in beni and green,
similar prints were put forth by Nishimura Shigenaga, Ishikawa Toyonobu,
Torii Shiro (otherwise Kiyonobu the second), and all the Yedo
print-designers, among them the veteran Torii Kiyomasu. None of these men
seems to have attempted any marked departure from the type established by
Okumura. About 1755, however, a group of young men appeared upon the
scene, who were fired with zeal for further experiments. The leaders were
Torii Kiyomitsu, Kitao Shigemasa, and Suzuki Harunobu. Kiyomitsu began by
trying novel colour schemes such as two tones of beni instead of beni and
green. Then he tried a third colour-block. After this new developments
followed in rapid succession. The variety and range of the colour schemes
broadened almost from day to day. At first the wider resources proved an
embarrassment, but the mastery attained in dealing with the simpler means
soon enabled the artists to take advantage of them. Invention was
stimulated. In 1764 a printer named Kinroku discovered a method by which
printing in colours from many blocks became possible. We can only guess at
the nature of the difficulty that was surmounted; but as it is known that
the printing was usually done upon dampened paper, it is evident that the
stretching or shrinking of the sheets, to which I have already referred,
must have proved extremely troublesome, and that every additional block
must have multiplied the liability to defective register. It is reasonably
safe to assume, therefore, that to find some means of overcoming this was
the problem which remained unsolved for so many years.

                  [HARUNOBU. Young Woman before Torii.]

                   HARUNOBU. Young Woman before Torii.

The name of Suzuki Harunobu is familiar to every admirer of Japanese
prints. It is in large measure to his genius that the development of
full-colour printing is due. He was not only the first artist to make use
of the new process, but he took advantage of it to bring out prints of a
novel type. Very dainty and graceful these were, and in the poetic
allusions or quiet humour with which they were charged, and in the quality
of the brush-strokes with which the drawings were executed, they made a
direct appeal to men of taste. Success was instantaneous. By the year 1765
Harunobu had come to the front and distanced all competitors for popular
favour. The serenity and compelling charm of his compositions brought him
wide fame. Realizing the possibilities that now lay before him, he proudly
exclaimed, “Why should I degrade myself by the delineation of actors?” His
ambition, he said, was to become “the true successor of the painters in
the department of printing”; that is to say, to design prints that should
be worthy substitutes for paintings. Instead of restricting himself to a
few primary or secondary hues and the variations resulting from their
superposition, he mixed his colours to get the precise tint desired, and
he used as many colour-blocks as were needed for the effects at which he
aimed. The Yedo-yé, or Yedo pictures, as the prints had been called from
the fact that they were produced only at the eastern capital, were now
denominated nishiki-yé, or brocade pictures, from the number of colours
woven together in them. To the printing itself, the charging of the blocks
with colour, the character and quality of the pigments and of the paper
used, Harunobu gave careful attention, and these things were greatly
improved as a result of his experiments.

Under his leadership the art now entered upon the period of its greatest
triumphs. In the eager search for novel subjects scarcely anything was
left untouched. History, mythology, and romance, the numberless fêtes and
merrymakings of the people and the daily routine of their lives,
representations of celebrated poets and heroes, scenes from the drama,
portraits of popular actors and courtesans, the revels of the Yoshiwara,
animals and plants, familiar scenes and famous landscapes, furnished
motives for almost endless broadsheets and book illustrations. No other
art was ever more crowded with human interest.

The forward movement in print-designing at this epoch was helped on by a
number of highly gifted artists who seem to have worked together to some
extent. Katsukawa ShunshoÌ, who took up the theatrical branch of
print-designing that Harunobu scorned, is one of the most distinguished
masters of the Ukiyoé school. He was a designer of marked power, a
colourist of the first rank. His works are not yet appreciated as they
should be, but the finest of them yield pure aesthetic delight of most
exalted quality. Kitao Shigemasa, Ippitsusai BunchoÌ, and Isoda Koryusai
also rank among the first-rate men of this period. In the contest for
popular favour during the ten years following the death of Harunobu, which
took place in the summer of 1770, it has been said that the guerdon rested
upon Koryusai, but that is a mistake, for both ShunshoÌ and Shigemasa
stood higher in the estimation of qualified judges. All, however, were
surpassed a few years later by Kiyonaga, the last great artist of the
Torii line and the culminating figure in the history of the Popular
School. He conquered by the rugged strength and marvellous quality of his
brush-strokes, by the richness of his colouring and the ripe mastery he
displayed over all the resources of his craft. But also he created a new
type of design—that which found expression in the great diptychs and
triptychs that stand as the triumphs of colour-printing. At the height of
his power his influence over his contemporaries was so great that, without
exception, the younger men among them copied his style as closely as they

When Kiyonaga, about 1793, stopped designing prints, the decadence had
already set in. The decade that followed was a period of rapid
deterioration, with Utamaro as its particular evil genius. Yet many of the
most splendid of the prints were produced in that decade. Where shall we
look for anything finer than Eishi’s wonderful series with the chocolate
background, or his triptychs of the Prince Genji series? Where shall we
find anything to equal the brilliant characterization of Sharaku’s actor
portraits? Where else shall we turn for such marvellously facile rhythmic
line, such swift, vital handling as that which made Utamaro’s masterpieces
the despair of his many imitators? Toyokuni also designed many fine
prints; but as he was a man of less force than the others I have named, he
fell faster and farther than they did, and fewer of his works command our

                 [HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.]

                  HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.

I have left myself little time to speak of two eminent artists, both of
them world-renowned, who by their genius made the latter years of the
Ukiyoé school as notable in their way as any in its entire history. Either
Hokusai or Hiroshige might well engage our attention for an entire
evening. Both were extraordinarily prolific; Hokusai was the more
versatile and has the wider reputation. Both are among the greatest
landscape artists the world has ever known. Their numerous prints of
landscapes are a revelation of the possibilities of originality in
composition and variety of interest in this field. Unless one has studied
these prints in fine examples, it is impossible to realize how great is
their merit. This is true of all the prints, but particularly true of
Hiroshige’s. Between the best impressions and the very good ones the
difference is really astonishing. But the best are so extremely rare as to
make it probable that because of the difficulty and the cost of printing,
very few of them were issued—the publishers finding cheaper editions more

Though classed as Ukiyoé artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige really represent a
separate movement which undoubtedly would have crystallized into a
distinct school had worthy followers arisen to carry it forward, had the
times been different, and, last but not least, had the genius of the two
masters been less transcendent.

In this sketch of the history of the art of Ukiyoé colour-printing only
the more salient features have been touched upon. Of the prints themselves
it is not too much to say that the finest of them are the most beautiful
specimens of printing that have been done in any land at any time.

Yet none but the most primitive methods—or what from our point of view may
seem such—were employed. The most wonderful among all the prints is but a
“rubbing” or impression taken by hand from wood blocks. The artist having
drawn the design with the point of a brush in outline upon thin paper, it
was handed over to the engraver, who began his part of the work by pasting
the design face downward upon a flat block of wood, usually cherry, sawn
plankwise as in the case of the blocks used by European wood-engravers in
the time of Dürer. The paper was then scraped at the back until the design
showed through distinctly in every part. Next, the wood was carefully cut
away, leaving the lines in relief, care being taken to preserve faithfully
every feature of the brush-strokes with which the drawing was executed. A
number of impressions were then taken in Chinese ink from this “key block”
and handed to the artist to fill in with colour. This ingenious plan,
which is manifestly an outgrowth of the early custom of colouring the ink
prints (sumi-yé) by hand, and which perhaps would never have been thought
of had not the colour itself been an afterthought, enabled the artist to
try many experiments in colour arrangement with a minimum amount of
labour. The colour scheme and ornamentation of the surfaces having been
determined, the engraver made as many subsidiary blocks(5) as were
required, the parts meant to take the colour being left raised and the
rest cut away. Accurate register was secured by the simplest of devices. A
right-angled mark engraved at the lower right-hand corner of the original
block, and a straight mark in exact line with its lower arm at the left,
were repeated upon each subsequent block, and, in printing, the sheets
were laid down so that their lower and right-hand edges corresponded with
the marks so made. The defective register which may be observed in many
prints was sometimes caused by unequal shrinking or swelling of the
blocks. In consequence of this, late impressions are often inferior to the
early ones, even though printed with the same care, and from blocks that
had worn very little. The alignment will usually be found to be exact upon
one side of the print, but to get further out of register as the other
side is approached.

The printing was done on moist paper with Chinese ink and colour applied
to the blocks with flat brushes. A little rice paste was usually mixed
with the pigments to keep them from running and to increase their
brightness. Sometimes dry rice flour was dusted over the blocks after they
were charged. To this method of charging the blocks much of the beauty of
the result may be attributed. The colour could be modified, graded, or
changed at will, the blocks covered entirely or partially. Hard,
mechanical accuracy was avoided. Impressions differed even when the
printer’s aim was uniformity. Sometimes, in inking the “key block,” which
was usually the last impressed, some of the lines would fail to receive
the pigment, or would be overcharged. This was especially liable to happen
when the blocks were worn and the edges of the lines became rounded. A
little more or a little less pigment sometimes made a decided difference
in the tone of the print, and, it may be noted, has not infrequently
determined the nature and the extent of the discolouration wrought by

                 [HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.]

                  HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.

In printing, a sheet of paper was laid upon the block and the printer
rubbed off the impression, using for the purpose a kind of pad called a
_baren._ This was applied to the back of the paper and manipulated with a
circular movement of the hand. By varying the dampness of the paper and
the degree of pressure the colour could be forced deep into the paper, or
left upon the outer fibres only, so that the whiteness of those below the
surface would shine through, giving the peculiar effect of light which is
seen at its best in some of the surimono (prints designed for distribution
at New Year’s or other particular occasions) by Hokusai and his
contemporaries. Uninked blocks were used for embossing portions of the
designs. The skill of the printer was a large factor in producing the best
results. Even the brilliancy of the colour resulted largely from his
manipulation of the pigments and various little tricks in their
application. The first impressions were not the best, some forty or fifty
having to be pulled before the block would take the colour properly. Many
kinds of paper were used. For the best of the old prints it was thick,
spongy in texture, and of an almost ivory tone. The finest specimens were
printed under the direct personal supervision of the artists who designed
them. Every detail was looked after with the utmost care. No pains were
spared in mixing the tints, in charging the blocks, in laying on the paper
so as to get the best possible impressions. Experiments were often tried
by varying the colour schemes. Prints of important series, as, for
example, Hokusai’s famous “Thirty-six Views of Fuji,” are met with in
widely divergent colourings.

The pigments most frequently used were comparatively few, and different
lots of the same pigment seem to have been far from uniform in hue. As to
this and some other points upon which we should be glad to have light, no
very certain information exists. We do not know how soon some of the
colours began to fade. Internal evidence indicates that in some instances
the change took place within a comparatively short time, as in the case of
the lovely blue used by Harunobu and ShunshoÌ chiefly as a colour for sky
and water. It appears to have been a compound tint formed of blue mixed
with some other colour to modify its intensity. In the change which
followed—possibly a chemical one—the blue disappeared in whole or in part,
leaving in its stead a buff hue having peculiar depth and a soft, velvety
texture. To our eyes the modified colour is often far more beautiful than
the original, but the variation, it may safely be asserted, was not
desired by the artist.

The quality of the colour wrought by these changes explains why it is not
possible to-day to reproduce the prints successfully. The printing process
is still in use, and, as the plates in such publications as “Kokka”
attest, very splendid results are still yielded by it. But some of the old
pigments cannot now be obtained; and if they could be, we should still
have to wait long years for time to mellow the prints made with them.
Indigo can be had, but it is not the same indigo and its colour is not
quite like the old, which was extracted from blue cloth imported from
China. Beni can be made, but the secret of the blue added to it to produce
the divine violet seen in many of the prints has been lost, as has that of
the precious moss-green used by Utamaro. Many reproductions have been made
during the last twenty-five years, and some of them are extremely clever;
but the printing lacks depth, and when placed beside the old works they
appear dull and lifeless.

Colour-prints were made for many purposes. To some extent they were used
as advertisements. Incidentally they served as fashion plates. Some were
regularly published and sold in shops. Others were designed expressly upon
orders from patrons, to whom the entire edition—sometimes a very small
one—was delivered. The number struck from any block, or set of blocks,
varied widely. Of the more popular prints many editions were printed, each
one, as might be expected, inferior to those that preceded it. Not
infrequently the Yedo publishers removed from their out-of-date blocks the
marks showing their imprint, and sold them to publishers in Osaka and
Nagoya, by whom poor and cheap editions were issued. Eiraku-ya of Nagoya,
in particular, is said to have bought many old blocks, some of which were
revamped in various ways before being reprinted.

                 [HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.]

                  HARUNOBU.  The Sleeping Elder Sister.

In a number of instances, when blocks had worn out or had been
accidentally destroyed in the fires by which Yedo was ravaged, the artists
were called upon to make new drawings of the same subjects. Usually, in
such cases, the second design differed very little from the first, save in
such details as the patterns upon the garments of the figures and the
styles of hair arrangement, which invariably reflected the current mode.
Kiyonaga’s “Iris Garden” and his well-known triptych “Ushiwaka Serenading
Jorurihime” are notable examples of this practice. Two designs of each of
these were issued, the intervals between the appearance of the first and
second being, in each instance, about three or four years. For the later
editions of many of the prints designed by Harunobu changes were made in
the blocks, and the number was sometimes increased and sometimes
decreased. After his death re-engravings of a number of his prints appear
to have been made, as well as forged works in imitation of his style to
which his name was attached.

Most of the prints were sold at the time of publication for a few sen. The
finer ones brought relatively higher prices, and such prints as the great
triptychs and still larger compositions by Kiyonaga, Eishi, Toyokuni,
Utamaro, and other leading artists could never have been very cheap. In
general, however, the price was small and they were regarded as ephemeral
things. Many were used to ornament the small screens that served to
protect kitchen fires from the wind, and in this use were inevitably
soiled and browned by smoke. Others, made into kakemono or mounted upon
the sliding partitions of the houses, perished in the fires by which
Japanese cities have been devastated; or, if in houses that chanced safely
to run the gauntlet of fires, typhoons, cloudbursts, and other mishaps,
their colours faded and their surfaces were rubbed until little more than
dim outlines were left. These lost prints include a very large proportion
of those that were most beautiful, and especially of those having
inoffensive subjects.

Fortunately, though the upper classes did not consider the prints as works
of art, that did not prevent them from buying them for the entertainment
they afforded. The samurai, though they considered it degrading to take
part in the amusements of the lower classes and affected to despise the
vulgarity of the theatre, sometimes attended the performances in disguise.
And when they returned to their home provinces with their feudal lords
after the six months of every year spent in the capital, they usually
carried with them large quantities of prints. Country people visiting Yedo
rarely returned without taking many of these cheap souvenirs of the city
to distribute among their neighbours. Of course many were destroyed, but
the Japanese have always been accustomed to take care of their
possessions, and so many thousands of prints were neatly packed away in
boxes and placed in the kuras, or fireproof storehouses. There they were
often spoiled by mildew, the dread foe of the Japanese housewife, and
eaten by insects. Those pasted in albums, as were many of the noted series
by Hokusai and Hiroshige, fared better than the loose ones.

                    [HARUNOBU.  Woman reading Letter.]

                     HARUNOBU.  Woman reading Letter.

Thus it has come about that in spite of the enormous number printed,
really choice specimens are very rare. Of many of the most important only
two or three copies in good condition are known. Even at the time of their
issue the number of those in what may be called the “proof” state could
not have been large. The best printing, as has already been pointed out,
was not only difficult and relatively expensive—perhaps prohibitively
expensive in many instances except for a small number of impressions—but
when the blocks had worn so that the edges of the finest lines had lost
their sharpness, it was quite impossible. Collections of prints were
rarely made. Literary men often saved such as were inscribed with odes of
especial merit, or had recondite meanings that appealed to them, and to
their care we are indebted for the preservation of the majority of those
that have survived in perfect or nearly perfect condition.

For those who have learned the elements of their language the charm of the
prints is very great. I should perhaps say the charm of some of the prints
is very great; for, as we learn what we ought to admire, we learn to
discriminate, at first between the works of the different artists, then
between different works by the same artist, and finally between different
copies of the same work. The truth is that the prints are only in a remote
sense to be spoken of as reproductions. Each impression is more or less an
individual work of art; the difference in quality between one and another
is often astonishingly wide.

In conclusion it may be well to specify briefly some of the qualities in
the prints that appeal to people of taste. In the first place, there is
the compelling charm of colour. Equally notable are excellence of
composition, grace, beauty, and sweep of line, distinctive character,
daringness of conception, and perfect balance of both line and mass.
Collectively the prints furnish the clearest exemplification of the basic
principles of design that the world has to offer. Nowhere else can we find
so much accomplished with simple means. Technically, also, they fulfil
every requirement. Considered merely as wood-engravings, they are of the
first order of excellence. Though the drawing is seldom scientifically
accurate, it is, nevertheless, of exquisite refinement and subtlety. In
short, the best prints are creative works of very high order which amply
justify our admiration because of their intrinsic merit.

             [KORYUSAI.  Musume leaping from Temple Balcony.]

              KORYUSAI.  Musume leaping from Temple Balcony.





The leading masters of the Ukiyoé school were a group of very great
artists. The names of Kiyonaga, Harunobu, Okumura Masanobu, Utamaro,
Hokusai, and Hiroshige belong in the category of those whose fame is

                        [SHUNSHO.  Woman in Red.]

                         SHUNSHO.  Woman in Red.

The finest of the colour-prints designed by these men and their
fellow-artists are masterpieces of rare distinction. This does not mean
that all of their works should be so classed. The method by which the
prints were produced enabled the artists to turn them out rapidly, and
many were made that were trivial in character. They served almost as many
purposes in their time as engravings, etchings, lithographs, and the
photographic process reproductions do with us to-day. Naturally they
varied widely in merit and in quality. Many have been preserved, but the
important prints by the greater artists are unfortunately very rare; few
of them have survived the vicissitudes of time, and fewer still in good

The inception of the Ukiyoé school dates back to the early years of the
seventeenth century, when a painter named Iwasa Matahei, departing from
the traditional subjects of the painters of the classic schools, made
pictures of dancing-girls and scenes of every-day life. The first prints
were made about 1660 by Hishikawa Moronobu and were in simple black
outline. They were sometimes coloured by hand with a few touches of colour
roughly laid on, probably by the publisher’s assistants.

In the early years of the seventeenth century a style of colouring known
as _tan-yé_ (from the predominant use of a red-lead pigment known as tan)
came into vogue. A little later prints were sold with more elaborate
hand-colouring. Lacquer was mixed with the pigments to give them
brilliancy, and the prints were known as _urushi-yé,_ or lacquer prints.
In or about the year 1742 Okumura Masanobu began to make the first true
colour-prints. For these he used only two colours, green and a soft red
called _beni,_ and the prints were known as _beni-yé._ For some years
difficulties connected with the printing prevented the use of more than
two colour-blocks, and not until 1764 was a method discovered which made
it possible to use as many blocks as might be required. Suzuki Harunobu
was the first artist to take advantage of the discovery. The prints
designed by him during the next six years are among the finest works of
the school. Under his guidance and that of Katsukawa Shunsho, the art of
colour-printing was brought to perfection. Then followed a period when
many prints of precious quality were produced. The culmination was reached
during the seventeen hundred and eighties, when Torii Kiyonaga turned out
his marvellous single sheets, diptychs, and triptychs.

Many splendid prints were designed in the next decade. It was then that
Eishi made his delightful triptychs, that Sharaku stirred the people of
Yedo with his wonderful caricature portraits of popular actors, and that
Utamaro gained wide fame by the products of his facile brush. It was,
however, a period of decadence, and by the end of the century a
considerable distance had been travelled upon the downward path.

The prints made in the nineteenth century were, for the most part, coarse
and gaudy, the chief exceptions being those designed by Hokusai and
Hiroshige. These men, though classed as of the Ukiyoé school, in reality
represent what may more properly be termed another “movement” growing out
of, but distinct from, the Ukiyoé art that reached its apogee under

While the present exhibition includes specimens of most of the different
kinds of prints—some of them, more especially the earlier ones, of extreme
rarity—historical completeness has not been attempted. The aim has been
rather to show such prints of exceptional quality and beauty as are
available in New York.

                                                       FREDERICK W. GOOKIN


                            HISHIKAWA MORONOBU

Moronobu, who was born probably in 1625 and died in 1695, was the first
important Japanese artist to design prints. As a painter he is highly
renowned. He illustrated many books and made a considerable number of
single-sheet prints, which were all either in plain black or coloured by
hand. His works are now very rare.(6)


_    1 Large sumi-yé (ink print)._ Matsukaze-Murasame; a nobleman and two
      ladies at the seashore watching two women dipping salt water in
_    2 Sumi-yé._ A man and a woman seated on the floor of a room.
_    3 Sumi-yé._ Woman reading from a book to a man reclining on the floor
      by her side. Near them a maid-servant and utensils containing


_    4 Sumi-yé._ Scene in the Yoshiwara.

                              TORII KIYONOBU

Founder of the Torii line and one of the leading artists of the Ukiyoé
school. Inventor of the tan-yé, or prints coloured by hand with red lead
(Japanese _tan)_. He was born in 1664 and died on August 22, 1729. His
style of drawing was characterized by great boldness and vigour.


_    5 Large tan-yé._ The actor Dekijima Hanya as a woman seated upon a
      sakura tree in bloom.
_    6 Small tan-yé._ The actor Ikushima Daikichi as a woman holding two
      small dogs.
_    7 Small tan-yé._ The actor Kamimura Kichisaburo as a dancing-girl.
_    8 Large hand-coloured print._ The actor Ikushima Daikichi as an oiran
      on parade, followed by OÌtani Hiroji as a servant holding an
      umbrella over her.
_    9 Tall hand-coloured print._ The actor Bando Hikosaburo.


_   10 Urushi-yé._ Ichikawa Monnosuke as a strolling player carrying a
      monkey on his back.


_   11 Urushi-yé._ The elopement of Yaoya Hanbei and O-Chiya.


_   12 Urushi-yé._ A dancing-girl.

                              TORII KIYOMASU

Eldest son of Kiyonobu, whom he succeeded as the head of the Torii line.
His work closely resembles that of his father. He was born about 1685 and
died on January 2, 1764.


                 [KIYONAGA.  Holiday Group at Gotenyama.]

                  KIYONAGA.  Holiday Group at Gotenyama.

_   13 Large sumi-yé._ An actors’ boating party on the Sumidagawa.
_   14 Large tan-yé._ The actors Yoshizawa Ayame and Kanto Koroku.
_   15 Large tan-yé._ The actors Kanto Koroku and Ikushima Daikichi.
_   16 Large beni-yé._ Ichikawa DanjuÌroÌ as an enraged warrior.
_   17 Beni-yé._ Onoe KikugoroÌ in a female rôle.
_   18 Beni-yé._ Scene from a drama. The actors Tomazawa SaijiroÌ (on
      horseback), OÌtani Hiroji, and Segawa KikunojoÌ. The beni has turned
      to a low-toned yellow.
_   19 Urushi-yé._ Scene from a drama. OÌtani Oniji (on horseback)
      threatening Sannogawa Ichimatsu in the rôle of a woman who has
      seized his bridle rein.
_   20 Beni-yé._ Scene from a drama. Sawamura SojuÌroÌ as Sasaki no
      SaburoÌ and Nakamura TomijuÌroÌ as Mago no Koroku.

                            FURUYAMA MOROMASA

Pupil, and perhaps the son, of Moronobu. He devoted himself chiefly to
painting, but designed a few prints, most of which are ukiyé, or
perspective pictures, in the style of Okumura Masanobu.


_   21 Large hand-coloured ukiyé, or perspective print._ A game of ken in
      a room in a nobleman’s house.

                             OKUMURA MASANOBU

One of the most eminent of the Ukiyoé artists. His drawings were greatly
admired for their rare combination of force and refinement, and he
exercised wide influence over his contemporaries and successors to the end
of the eighteenth century. He was the first artist to use blocks from
which prints were coloured in flat tints. These were printed in the red
known as beni, green, and black, and were known as beni-yé. He was also
the first artist to make the tall, narrow pillar prints (ha-shira-yé), and
was the inventor of the perspective prints which he called _ukiyé._ His
true name was Okumura Genpachi, and he was commonly known as honya
(bookseller) Genpachi, from the fact that he was the proprietor of a
wholesale and retail book and print shop at the sign of the “red gourd” in
Tori-shio choÌ, Yedo.


_   22 Large sumi-yé._ Woman seated by a writing-table, reading a book.
_   23 Urushi-yé._ Bando Hikosaburo as a warrior resisting the opening of
      a castle door.
_   24 Tall beni-yé._ A geisha playing upon a samisen.
_   25 Large sumi-yé._ A woman with a pet cat watching a man dip water
      from a chozubachi.


_   26 Large beni-yé._ Segawa KikunojoÌ as an oiran lighting her pipe at a
      hibachi in the hands of her kamuro, and Sannogawa Ichimatsu as a man
      holding an umbrella over her.
_   27 Undivided beni-yé triptych._ Street scene. A boy kneeling to put on
      a woman’s geta; a man playing upon a shakuhachi; and another man
      carrying an umbrella.
_   28 Undivided triptych._ Three women carrying umbrellas.

                            OKUMURA TOSHINOBU

Toshinobu, the son of Masanobu, was an artist of decided talent who died
young. His known works, which resemble those of his father, are all
urushi-yé, and were designed about 1730-1736.


   29 Ichimura Uzaemon as a dancing-girl.
   30 Woman dressing.
   31 Sanjo KentaroÌ in a female rôle.

                           TSUNEKAWA SHIGENOBU

An early Ukiyoé artist of whom little is known. His prints are extremely


_   32 Urushi-yé._ Arashi Wakano in the rôle of Shida no KotaroÌ.

                           NISHIMURA SHIGENAGA

Son of Shigenobu. Born in 1697 and died in 1756. An artist of ability who
exercised marked influence upon the development of the school. His prints
are very uneven in quality.


_   33 Tall hand-coloured print._ The actor Sannogawa Ichimatsu as a woman
      holding a folded letter.


_   34 Urushi-yé._ Segawa Kikunojo as a woman holding a warrior’s helmet.
_   35 Beni-yé._ Procession of the Corean ambassadors.

                            ISHIKAWA TOYONOBU

One of the most important of the Ukiyoé masters. Born in 1711, died in
1785. Pupil of Shigenaga, and probably of Masanobu whose style he closely


_   36 Large beni-yé._ The actors Segawa Kikunojo and Sannogawa Ichimatsu.


_   37 Wide print from three colour-blocks._ Women and children at the


_   38 Tall hand-coloured print._ Segawa KikunojoÌ as a woman reading a
_   39 Two sheets from a beni-yé triptych._ Musume carrying umbrellas.


_   40 Beni-yé._ Mother and son.
_   41 Print from three colour-blocks._ Boys rolling a large snowball.
_   42 Print from three colour-blocks._ Man struggling with a refractory
      umbrella; a woman looking on.

                              TORII KIYOHIRO

                        [KIYONAGA. Picnic Party.]

                         KIYONAGA. Picnic Party.

Pupil of Kiyomasu. His known works are exclusively beni-yé, executed from
about 1745 to about 1755.


_   43 Beni-yé._ Nakamura HatsugoroÌ as Sakura no Suké.

                               TORII SHIRO

Known as Kiyonobu the second, all of his prints being signed Torii
Kiyonobu. He was the eldest son of Kiyomasu. Worked from about 1740 to
about 1755, when it is probable that his death occurred. Some of the most
charming of the beni-yé prints are from his hand.


_   44 Beni-yé._ Yamamoto IwanojoÌ as a woman dancing by a fox-trap in a
      rice field under a blossoming cherry tree.


Second son of Kiyomasu, whom he succeeded as the head of the Torii line.
An artist of distinction. Was the first to add a third colour-block to the
original two. He was born in 1735 and died in 1785. After 1765 he designed
only a few prints, and appears to have designed none later than about


_   45 Wide print from three colour-blocks._ The NoÌ performance of
      “Musume DoÌjoÌji.”
_   46 Wide print from three colour-blocks._ Daimyo procession game by
      women and children.
_   47 Print from three colour-blocks._ Iwai HanshiroÌ as a woman reading
      a letter while seated upon a carabao.
_   48 Beni-yé._ Scene from a drama. Ichimura KamezoÌ (standing) as Wakemi
      GoroÌ and Nakamura TomijuÌroÌ as Akoya.

                             SUZUKI HARUNOBU

The central figure in Ukiyoé and the eminent master under whose hand the
art of colour-printing was brought to perfection in the sixties of the
eighteenth century. He was a draughtsman of extreme elegance and power,
and his works have a charm that is peculiarly their own. He died on July
7, 1770, when, says Shiba Kokan in his book “Kokan Kokai-ki,” he “had
hardly passed his fortieth year.”


   49 Girl attendant in an archery gallery gathering up arrows. One sheet
      of a diptych.
   50 A young woman showing a caged bird to a young man seated before her,
      and surreptitiously taking a love letter from him.
   51 A vendor of fan mounts stopping to talk to a young woman standing in
      front of a shop.
_   52 Hashira-yé._ Woman writing a love letter.
_   53 Hashira-yé._ Woman holding a pet dog.
   54 Burlesque scene. Girls carrying Daikoku (the genius of wealth—one of
      the “Seven Fortune-beings”).


   55 Girls carrying Daikoku. A later impression with different colouring.
   56 An archer and two girls near a screen. Calendar for 1765.
   57 Young woman before a torii, carrying a hammer and nails with which
      to perform an incantation.
   58 Two young women on their way to the public bath-house through a
      storm of snow and rain.
   59 Two girls on a terrace near a torii, in the time of the
   60 Two girls gathering mume flowers from a tree overhanging a wall.
   61 Woman reading a letter by the light of an andon (portable lamp with
      wind screen) which another woman is trimming.
   62 Geisha and a young girl standing on the bank near the rapids of the
   63 Young woman seated in a window, conversing with another young woman
      seated on the floor and holding a picture-book.
   64 Young man removing snow from the geta of a young woman.
   65 Woman lying upon the floor of a room, reading a book, and another
      woman standing beside her, holding a pipe.
   66 Young woman seated on a veranda after her bath, having her back
      massaged by her maid.
   67 Young man talking to a girl through the bars of a window.
   68 A burlesque apparition of Fugen. Instead of the Buddhist divinity, a
      young woman seated on an elephant appears on a cloud before a priest
      kneeling in prayer.
   69 Lovers walking in the snow under an umbrella. One of Harunobu’s most
      distinguished prints.


   70 The Sleeping Elder Sister. First state. Early impression signed by
      the printer, Kyosen.


   71 The Sleeping Elder Sister. Second state. Changes made in the blocks
      and colouring.


   72 The Sleeping Elder Sister. Still later impression. Colouring changed
      again, and the number of blocks increased from ten to thirteen.


   73 The Hole in the Wall.
   74 Mother holding her infant son.
   75 At the entrance gate.
   76 Mother taking her infant son from another woman and handing her a
   77 Lovers in a palace.


   78 Musume walking up a flight of steps leading to a temple.
   79 Lovers playing battledore and shuttlecock; the young man climbing a
      ladder to disengage the shuttlecock caught upon the branch of a mume
_   80 Hashira-yé._ Woman in night attire standing by her bedside reading
      a letter.

                               SHIBA KOKAN

An artist who is best known as a clever imitator of his master, Harunobu,
whose signature he forged upon a number of prints. He also used the “goÌ,”
or studio name, Harushige in signing prints in the Harunobu manner. In
later years he painted pictures in semi-European style, and made
copper-plate engravings which were coloured by hand. He was born in 1747
and died in 1818.


   81 The courtyard of a house in the Yoshiwara. A woman reading a letter
      and a girl attendant standing beside her holding a tray. Signed


This is the pseudonym of an artist of distinction whose identity has not
been determined. His known works are calendar prints for 1765.


   82 Stout lady crossing a room in a palace supported by two attendants.
      The use of gold leaf is notable.

                             KITAO SHIGEMASA

One of the noted artists of the school. Was famous for his skill as a
calligrapher, being reputed to have no superior in his day in either of
the “three capitals,” Yedo, Kyoto, or Osaka. His prints, which are rare,
are generally of much distinction. He was born in 1740, and died in the
second month of Bunsei 3 (February or March, 1820).


   83 Children’s puppet show.


_   84 Beni-yé._ Segawa KikunojoÌ and Ichimura Uzaemon as Izumo no Okuni
      and Nagoya Sanza, two komuso, playing upon shaku-hachi.


   85 Two geishas.

                              ISODA KORYUSAI

The most important pupil of Harunobu, whose style he followed closely in
his early works. Later he developed a manner of his own. As a designer of
pillar prints and of prints of birds, he was especially successful. He was
a samurai and associated with samurai of the superior class. The director
of the mint was one of his most intimate friends and patrons. About 1781
he gave up print-designing, devoted himself to painting, and was given the
honorary title of Hokyo. The dates of his birth and death are not known.


_   86 Hashira-yé._ Musume leaping from the balcony of Kiyomidzu temple
      with an umbrella as a parachute.
   87 Woman standing on the engawa of a house, admiring snow-laden bamboo
      branches; back of her, a girl and a young boy looking through a
   88 A Yoshiwara beauty arranging flowers; two girl attendants looking


_   89 Hashira-yé._ Musume carrying her infant brother.
_   90 Hashira-yé._ Young woman poling a boat in a lily-pond.


   91 A Yoshiwara beauty on parade, attended by a girl and a boy.
_   92 Hashira-yé._ The bijin JuroÌjin. A young woman is represented in
      place of the long-life being whose attributes are a crane and a

                            KATSUKAWA SHUNSHO

A contemporary of Harunobu and one of the greatest of the Ukiyoé artists.
He was highly renowned in his day and had many pupils who became famous.
Most of his prints were portraits of actors in character. He was born in
1726 and died on January 22, 1793.


   93 Segawa Kikunojo as a woman holding a red fan.
   94 Two actors in character. The seated figure is DanjuÌroÌ, the leading
      “star” of the Yedo stage.


   95 Actor in a female rôle.


   96 Iwai HanshiroÌ as a woman standing and holding a fan behind her.
   97 Yamashita Kinsaku in a female rôle.
   98 Actor of the Ichikawa line in the rôle of Shibaraku at the Ichimura
   99 OÌtani Hiroji as an Amazake vendor.
_  100 Hashira-yé._ Nobleman carrying a court lady on his back. Probably a
      parody upon the suicide of Ohan and Choyaemon.
_  101 Wide hashira-yé._ The Woman in Red.

                            IPPITSUSAI BUNCHOÌ

An artist of samurai rank who, for a few years, designed actor prints in
the manner of Shunsho, which have great distinction of style and colour.
He was celebrated also as a writer of comic odes. He died on May 18, 1796.


                [BUNCHO.  Actor as Woman talking to Men.]

                 BUNCHO.  Actor as Woman talking to Men.

  102 Bando Hikosaburo as a woman of the Yoshiwara talking to a group of
      men through the misé.
  103 Nakamura TomijuÌroÌ as Josan no Miya.

            [KIYONAGA. Man and two Women approaching Temple.]

             KIYONAGA. Man and two Women approaching Temple.


  104 A Yoshiwara beauty accompanied by her kamuro (girl attendant)
      bearing a cage of fireflies.


  105 Ichikawa KorazoÌ as a man carrying an actor’s dressing-case.


  106 Scene from a drama. Yamashita Kinsaku as a woman holding a roll of
      paper, conversing with Ichikawa KomazoÌ, who holds a letter in his

                            KATSUKAWA SHUNKOÌ

Pupil of Shunsho and generally regarded as his most talented follower. His
career as a print-designer was cut short by a stroke of paralysis when he
was in his forty-fifth or forty-sixth year, but he lived for about forty
years thereafter as a recluse at Zenfukuji temple, Azabu, Yedo, where he
died in 1827.


  107 Iwai Hanshiro in a female rôle.
  108 The actor Ichikawa Monnosuke.
  109 Nakamura TomijuÌroÌ as a tsuzumi player.


  110 Arashi Tatsuzo as a woman flower-vendor.

                            KATSUKAWA SHUNYEI

Pupil of ShunshoÌ and an artist of ability. At first, for a short time, he
called himself ShunjoÌ. He was born in 1767, and died on December 13,


  111 A bijin.


  112 Ichikawa Monnosuke in a female rôle.


  113 Scene from the tenth act of “Chushingura.”
  114 Ichikawa KomazoÌ.

                             UTAGAWA TOYOHARU

Pupil of Toyonobu. As a painter his reputation is justly high. He did not
design many prints. He was born in 1735 and died on March 3, 1814.


  114 Cock, hen and chickens.

                              TORII KIYONAGA

Everything considered, the greatest artist of the Ukiyoé school and the
culminating figure in its forward movement. He was born in 1742 and died
in 1815. His finest prints were designed between 1780 and 1790.


  116 The Writing-lesson.
  117 Fair travellers resting on a bench by the roadside.


  118 Two geishas entertaining a young man.
  119 Court ladies on the engawa of a palace.


  120 Three girls going to the baths at the hot springs near Miyanoshita.
  121 Man and two women masquerading in komusoÌ attire.
  122 Group of three women and a boy.
  123 Two women standing beside a seated geisha who is playing on a
  124 Yoshiwara beauty attended by two women (shinzo) and two girls
  125 Two young women and a servant on the balcony of an inn.
  126 Family group on their way to a temple for the naming ceremony of the
      boy who is carried on the shoulders of an attendant.
  127 An actor and two women examining utensils for the tea ceremony.
  128 Women and children promenading in summer costume.
  129 Scene from a drama. Two actors playing the game of “go” with mume
      blossoms, and a third actor as a woman in the rôle of an umpire
      standing between them.
  130 Two young women walking under an umbrella and followed by a servant.
  131 Man in a black haori approaching a temple through the snow,
      accompanied by two women.
_  132 Diptych._ Group of women under a cherry tree.
_  133 Diptych._ Holiday group under the cherry trees at Gotenyama. One of
      a series of twelve diptychs that are among Kiyonaga’s finest works.
  134 Boating party under Ryogoku bridge. Two sheets of a triptych.
_  135 Triptych._ The Peony (botan) Show.
_  136 Triptych._ Women landing from a pleasure boat.


_  137 Hashira-yé._ Woman in winter costume.
_  138 Triptych._ A picnic party under the cherry trees.
  139 Group of women on the bank of the Sumida river.
  140 Group of women near a temple.
  141 Three women at a public bath-house.

                            KATSUKAWA SHUNCHO

Pupil of ShunshoÌ. Followed the style of Torii Kiyonaga. His works closely
resemble those of the Torii master, but have less force. Worked from about
1775 to about 1795. In some of his later prints he imitated Eishi’s prints
in the Utamaro manner. The dates of his birth and death are not known.


  142 One sheet of a triptych showing a nobleman’s mansion from the
      garden, with the people engaged in various occupations.


  143 Women watching girls bouncing balls.
_  144 Diptych._ Group at the entrance to a temple.
  145 Three women in a temple compound.

             [SHUNCHO.  Women watching Girls bouncing Balls.]

              SHUNCHO.  Women watching Girls bouncing Balls.


  146 Group of girls at a tea booth by the seashore.


  147 A picnic party. Two sheets of a triptych.
  148 Women picking wild flowers under a cherry tree in bloom.

                               HOSODA EISHI

One of the foremost artists of the school. He was a samurai of high rank,
and a pupil of Kano Eisen. For three years before he took to Ukiyoé he
held an official post in the household of the shogun Iyeharu. Eishi was a
master of all the resources of the art of colour-printing and his prints
are characterized by great elegance and refinement. He worked from about
1782 to 1800, when he gave up print-designing. He died in 1829.


_  149 Triptych._ Eight women and a man playing the game of “Catch the
  150 Group of Yoshiwara women and attendants.
  151 Someyama and her kamuro playing with a pet dog.
  152 Yoshiwara women admiring a branch of mume tree with unopened flower
_  153 Triptych._ Fête in a nobleman’s palace. Ladies composing poems.

                  [EISHI. Fête in a nobleman’s palace.]

                   EISHI. Fête in a nobleman’s palace.


  154 Another copy of the foregoing triptych. Shows how beautifully the
      purple changes by chemical decomposition.


  155 Oiran and attendants on parade.


  156 A Yoshiwara beauty. Ink proof of the key block.
  157 Two women entering a room in the palace of Prince Genji, where a
      young girl is seated playing with a kitten.

                             YEISHOSAI CHOKI

An artist of ability, though not quite of the first rank. His prints are
rare. He worked at first in the style of Kiyonaga. Later he imitated
Utamaro, and changed his “goÌ,” or studio name, to Momokawa Shiko.


  158 Woman and child catching fireflies.

                             TOSHUSAI SHARAKU

This artist was by profession a performer of the stately and aristocratic
No dramas in the service of Hachisuka, Daimyo of Awa. During the period
from about 1790 to 1795 he designed a small number of caricature portraits
of actors, which have great force and distinguished character.


  159 The actor(7) Tanimura TorazoÌ in the rôle of Kakogawa HonzoÌ.
  160 Ichikawa EbizoÌ in the rôle of Ko no Moronao. This print bears an
      inscription, probably contemporary, giving the date 1794.
  161 Onoe Matsusuke as one of the Loyal Ronin.
  162 Rando HikosaburoÌ in the rôle of Yuranosuke.
  163 Iwai HanshiroÌ in the rôle of Oishi, wife of Yuranosuke.
  164 Ichikawa Monnosuke as one of the Loyal Ronin.
  165 Morita Kanya as one of the Loyal Ronin.
  166 Segawa TominojoÌ in the rôle of Kaoyo Gozen, wife of Yenya.
  167 Sawamura SojuÌroÌ in the rôle of Yenya Hanguwan.
  168 Arashi TatsuzoÌ in the rôle of Yoichibei.
  169 Sakata HangoroÌ as Ten-ichi-boÌ Hotaku.
  170 Segawa TominojoÌ and Nakamura ManjuÌroÌ in female rôles.
  171 Nakajima Utaemon and Nakamura KonozoÌ.
  172 Ichikawa OmezoÌ in the rôle of Sukeroku.
  173 Matsumoto KoshiroÌ in the rôle of the otokadaté Banzuin Chobei. This
      print is commonly known as “The man with the pipe.”
  174 Matsumoto YonesaburoÌ in the rôle of Okaru, wife of Kampei.
  175 Ichikawa YaozoÌ in the rôle of Hayano Kampei.
  176 Kosagawa TsuneyoÌ in the rôle of Tonasé, wife of Kakogawa HonzoÌ.
  177 OÌtani Oniji in the rôle of Sadakuro.
  178 Sannogawa Ichimatsu in a female rôle.
 178a Nakayama TomisaburoÌ in the rôle of Komurasaki, and Ichikawa KomazoÌ
      as her lover, Shirai Gompachi, walking with her under a huge

                          [SHARAKU. Two Actors.]

                           SHARAKU. Two Actors.


  179 Segawa TominojoÌ.

                             KITAGAWA UTAMARO

One of the most gifted and most widely known of the Ukiyoé masters.
Extraordinarily facile and brilliant. Born in 1753 and died in 1806.


_  180 Triptych._ Imaginative view of a fête in a Chinese palace. It is a
      medley of Chinese and Japanese details intended as a take-off upon
      the treatment of Chinese subjects by the painters of the classic
  181 The hour of the Boar (9 to 12 P.M.). One of a set illustrating the
      twelve hours into which the Japanese day is divided.
_  182 Diptych._ Women in a nobleman’s palace, painting kakemono.
  183 Yoshiwara beauties on parade.
 183a A sheet from the “Washing day” triptych.
  184 Woman helping a man attire himself in ceremonial dress.
  185 Woman bending over to see a baby which another woman is nursing
      while seated before a mirror, arranging her hair.
  186 Woman talking to a fan-mount vendor.
_  187 Triptych._ The persimmon-gatherers.
_  188 Triptych._ Procession of a noble lady and women attendants on their
      way to a temple, bearing offerings.


_  189 Triptych._ Shadows on the shoji. Illustrations of three effects of
      sake (rice wine).
  190 Woman arranging flowers.
  191 The kitchen. One sheet of a diptych.
  192 A night excursion. One of Utamaro’s most famous prints.


  193 Hairdresser combing a girl’s hair.
  194 Woman with a young boy on her back, watching three puppies at play.


  195 Kitao Masanobu drunk with sake at a fête in a daimyo’s palace. Part
      of a triptych.


  196 Woman wearing a black zukin, and a maid bearing a lantern.
  197 Woman standing on a pier, holding an umbrella, and conversing with a
      man seated under the canopy of a boat.
  198 Woman bearing a teacup on a lacquer stand.
  199 Woman raising the mosquito netting over her bed to read a letter by
      the light of an andon.
  200 Three performers in a niwaka, or burlesque theatrical procession, in
      the streets of the Yoshiwara.
  201 Woman holding in her mouth a “pokan-pokan”—a musical toy of thin
      glass which makes a peculiar sound when air is blown through it.
_  202 Triptych._ Boating party.
_  203 Triptych._ The awabé divers of Isé.
_  204 Triptych._ Women and children on a bridge.

                   [UTAMARO. Woman with a Musical Toy.]

                    UTAMARO. Woman with a Musical Toy.

                             UTAGAWA TOYOKUNI

A brilliant artist of high repute in his day. Some of his prints,
especially the earlier ones, are of distinguished quality. He was born in
1769 and died on February 24, 1825.


_  205 Triptych._ Street scene in the Yoshiwara.
  206 Large head of an actor.


  207 The actor Koraiya.


  208 Musume raising a large umbrella.
_  209 Triptych._ Women in a public bath-house.


_  210 Triptych._ The Six Tamagawa, represented by six women washing
      strips of cloth in a rapid-flowing stream.


  211 Woman accompanied by a maid carrying a lantern.
_  212 Triptych._ Lady emerging from a kago; her attendants grouped about

                    [TOYOKUNI.  Women in Bath House.]

                     TOYOKUNI.  Women in Bath House.

                            KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI

A master of extraordinary versatility and power. Perhaps the most widely
known of all the Japanese artists. He was born in 1760 and died in the
spring of 1849.

  213 Winter landscape.
  214 Cranes on a snow-laden pine tree.
  215 Iris.
  216 Turtles swimming.


  217 Fuji san seen beneath a wave of the sea at Kanazawa. Hokusai’s
      famous “wave.”


  218 View of Fuji from Ushibori; a large boat moored in the foreground.

                     [HOKUSAI.  Fuji from Ushibori.]

                      HOKUSAI.  Fuji from Ushibori.


  219 Winter landscape.

                              ANDO HIROSHIGE

The last great artist of the Ukiyoé school, and a consummate master of
landscape art. Born in 1797 and died on October 12, 1858.


  220 A cold morning at Shono, on the ToÌkaidoÌ.
  221 View of Fuji san from Goyo.
  222 Pine trees on the shore at Hamamatsu.
  223 Flying kites at Fukuroi.
  224 The “fox fires” at OÌji.
  225 Kinryusan, Asakusa, in snow.
  226 The fields back of Asakusa seen from a window through which a white
      cat is looking out.
  227 Travellers in snow at Ishiyakushi.

                    [HIROSHIGE.  Pines at Hammamatsu.]

                     HIROSHIGE.  Pines at Hammamatsu.

                         LENT BY ALBERT GALLATIN.

  228 Evening rain at Azumasha.


  229 Autumn moon over the river Tama.
  230 The evening glow at Setta.
  231 The crowd in Ni ChoÌ (Second Street) at night. At the right is the
      Ichimura theatre, upon which and upon the tea-house across the way
      are tall signs advertising plays and actors.
  232 Aowi and bird.
  233 Pheasant and young pine trees upon a steep hillside.
  234 Raftsman on the Sumida river in a snow storm.


  235 Shower at ShoÌno.
  236 GyoÌtoku; boats returning.

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