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Title: Chats on Japanese Prints
Author: Ficke, Arthur Davison
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chats on Japanese Prints" ***

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_With Frontispieces and many Illustrations._

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Hayden.

  (How to collect and value Old Engravings.)
    By Arthur Hayden.

    By G. Woolliscroft Rhead.

    By E. L. Lowes.

    By J. F. Blacker.

    By J. J. Foster, F.S.A.

  (Companion volume to "Chats on English China.")
    By Arthur Hayden.

    By A. M. Broadley.

    By H. J. L. J. Massé, M.A.

    By Fred. J. Melville.

    By MacIver Percival.

  (Companion volume to "Chats on Old Furniture.")
    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Fred. W. Burgess.

    By Fred. W. Burgess.

    By Fred. W. Burgess.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Davison Ficke.

    By Stanley C. Johnson.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Hayden.

  (Companion volume to "Chats on Old Silver.")
    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Hayden.
  With Frontispiece and 72 Full page Illustrations. 9s. net.





Size 15 × 7. Signed Hiroshige, hitsu.






       *       *       *       *       *

_First published in 1915_
_Second Impression, 1916_
_Third Impression, 1917_
_Fourth Impression, 1922_

(_All rights reserved_)

       *       *       *       *       *






      As chosen guests we may partake
    Of this strange hostel's ancient wine.
    For thirst no common drink can slake
    Tapsters of lineage divine
    Here pour sweet anodyne.

      The hurly-burly of the road,
    The turmoil of the carters' feet,
    Intrude not to this still abode
    Where travellers from the world-ends meet,
    And find the gathering sweet.

      Hence may perhaps some secret gleam
    Follow along our onward way,
    From evening feast with lords of dream,
    As we go forth into the grey
    To-morrow's cloudy day.


For assistance of many kinds in preparing this book the thanks of the
author are gratefully offered to Mr. Frederick William Gookin, Mr.
Howard Mansfield, Mr. William S. Spaulding, Mr. John T. Spaulding, Mr.
Judson D. Metzgar, Mr. Charles H. Chandler, Mr. John Stewart Happer,
Col. Henry Appleton, Mrs. Arthur Aldis, Mr. Ernest Oberholtzer, and Mr.
Charles August Ficke. Though many obligations must perforce go
unacknowledged, it would be improper to fail to state indebtedness to
the writings of Von Seidlitz, Bing, Huish, Anderson, Strange, Binyon,
Gookin, Kurth, Morrison, Happer, Koechlin, Vignier, Succo, Field, De
Goncourt, Okakura, Edmunds, Perzynski, Wright, Fenollosa, and De Becker.

Many collectors have kindly allowed their prints to be used for
illustration in this book. That all the examples are from American
collections is due to considerations of convenience, not to any notion
of their superiority. All prints not credited to another owner are from
the collection of the author. The other collections from which
illustrations are drawn are as follows:--

Spaulding (William S. and John T.), Boston, Massachusetts.

Gookin (Frederick W.), Chicago, Illinois.

Mansfield (Howard), New York.

Chandler (Charles H.), Evanston, Illinois.

Metzgar (Judson D.), Moline, Illinois.

Ainsworth (Miss Mary), Moline, Illinois.

Four of the poems herein printed appeared first in _The Little Review_.
A number of the others are from the author's book "Twelve Japanese
Painters." Most of the photographs here reproduced were prepared by Mr.
J. H. Paarman, Miss Sarah G. Foote-Sheldon, and Mr. J. D. Metzgar.



PREFACE                                                               11

GLOSSARY                                                              19

   I.  PRELIMINARY SURVEY                                             23


 III.  THE FIRST PERIOD: THE PRIMITIVES                               61



  VI.  THE FOURTH PERIOD: THE DECADENCE                              255

 VII.  THE FIFTH PERIOD: THE DOWNFALL                                347

VIII.  THE COLLECTOR                                                 401

       INDEX                                                         449


HIROSHIGE: THE BOW-MOON                                    _Frontispiece_

PLATE                                                               PAGE
 1. MORONOBU: A PAIR OF LOVERS                                        71

 2. SUKENOBU: A YOUNG COURTESAN                                       77

      (_Spaulding Collection_)                                        81

 4. OKUMURA MASANOBU: COURTESANS AT TOILET                            93

 5. OKUMURA MASANOBU: STANDING WOMAN                                  97

      (_Chandler Collection_)                                        101

      ICHIMATSU AND ONOYE KIKUGORO (_Chandler Collection_)           109

 8. TOYONOBU: GIRL OPENING AN UMBRELLA (_Metzgar Collection_)        113

    TOYONOBU: WOMAN DRESSING                                         113


10. KIYOMITSU: WOMAN WITH BASKET HAT                                 121

    KIYOMITSU: WOMAN COMING FROM BATH                                121

11. HARUNOBU: YOUNG GIRL IN WIND (_Gookin Collection_)               137

12. HARUNOBU: LADY TALKING WITH FAN-VENDOR (_Chandler Collection_)   141

      (_Chandler Collection_)                                        145



    HARUNOBU: GIRL PLAYING WITH KITTEN                               153

16. KORIUSAI: MOTHER AND BOY                                         161


17. KORIUSAI: TWO LADIES                                             165

    KORIUSAI: A GAME OF TAG                                          165

18. SHIGEMASA: TWO LADIES                                            169

    KORIUSAI: A COURTESAN                                            169



      (_Gookin Collection_)                                          183

      (_Mansfield Collection_)                                       187

23. SHUNYEI: AN ACTOR                                                191



26. KIYONAGA: LADY WITH TWO ATTENDANTS (_Gookin Collection_)         215

      PEONY GARDEN AT ASAKUSA                                        219

      SUMIDA RIVER (_Gookin Collection_)                             223

      (_Spaulding Collection_)                                       227


    KIYONAGA: WOMAN PAINTING HER EYEBROWS                            231

31. SHUNCHO: GROUP AT A TEMPLE GATE (_Mansfield Collection_)         235

32. SHUNCHO: TWO LADIES UNDER UMBRELLA                               239

      THROUGH THE WINDOW                                             239


    YEISHO: TWO COURTESANS AFTER THE BATH                            243

34. KITAO MASANOBU: THE CUCKOO (_Spaulding Collection_)              251

35. YEISHI: THREE LADIES BY THE SEASHORE                             267

36. YEISHI: LADY WITH TOBACCO-PIPE                                   271

      (_Metzgar Collection_)                                         275

      (_Chandler Collection_)                                        283

39. UTAMARO: TWO COURTESANS                                          287

40. UTAMARO: WOMAN SEATED ON A VERANDA                               291

41. UTAMARO: A YOUTHFUL PRINCE AND LADIES                            295

      OF THE FORTY-SEVEN RONIN (_Spaulding Collection_)              301


      THE DRAMA OF THE FORTY-SEVEN RONIN (_Ainsworth Collection_)    313

45. CHOKI: COURTESAN AND ATTENDANT                                   321

    SHUNMAN: TWO LADIES UNDER A MAPLE-TREE                           321

46. CHOKI: A COURTESAN AND HER LOVER                                 325


      (_Metzgar Collection_)                                         333

48. TOYOHIRO: A DAIMYO'S KITE-PARTY                                  341




52. HIROSHIGE: HOMING GEESE AT KATADA; TWILIGHT                      377

      OF THE KISO RIVER; SUNSET                                      383


      AT ASAKUSA; EVENING                                            391

56. HIROSHIGE: BIRD AND FLOWERS                                      395


    BENI.--A delicate pink or red pigment of vegetable origin.

    BENI-YE.--A print in which _beni_ is the chief colour used. The term
    is generally employed to describe all those two-colour prints which
    immediately preceded the invention of polychrome printing.

    CHUBAN.--A vertical print, size about 11 × 8, sometimes called the
    "medium size" sheet.

    DIPTYCH.--A composition consisting of two sheets.

    GAUFFRAGE.--Printing by pressure alone, without the use of a
    pigment, producing an embossed effect on the paper.

    HASHIRA-YE.--A very tall narrow print, size about 28 × 5, used to
    hang on the wooden pillars of a Japanese house; a pillar-print.

    HASHIRAKAKE.--See _hashira-ye_.

    HOSO-YE.--A small vertical print, size about 12 × 6.

    KAKEMONO.--A painting mounted on a margin of brocade; hung by its
    top when in use, and rolled up when not in use.

    KAKEMONO-YE.--A very tall wide print, size about 28 × 10.

    KEY-BLOCK.--The engraved wooden plate from which the black outlines
    of the print were produced.

    KIRA-YE.--A print with mica background.

    KOBAN.--A vertical print slightly smaller than the _Chuban_ (q.v.).

    KURENAI-YE.--A hand-coloured print in which _beni_ is chiefly used.

    MON.--The heraldic insignia used by actors and others as
    coat-of-arms; generally worn on their sleeves.

    NAGAYE.--See _hashira-ye_.

    NISHIKI-YE.--Brocade picture--a term used at first to describe the
    brilliant colour-inventions of Harunobu, but now loosely applied to
    all polychrome prints.

    OBAN.--A large vertical print, about 15 × 10--the normal full-size
    upright sheet.

    OTSU-YE.--A rough broadsheet painting, of small size, on paper; the
    precursor of the print.

    PENTAPTYCH.--A composition consisting of five sheets.

    PILLAR-PRINT.--See _hashira-ye_.

    SUMI.--Black Chinese ink.

    SUMI-YE.--A print in black and white only.

    SURIMONO.--A print, generally of small size and on thick soft paper,
    intended as a festival greeting or memento of some social occasion.

    TAN.--A brick-red or orange colour, consisting of red oxide of lead.

    TAN-YE.--A print in which _tan_ is the only or chief colour used.
    Such prints, in which the _tan_ was applied by hand, were among the
    earliest productions.

    TRIPTYCH.--A composition consisting of three sheets.

    UCHIWA-YE.--A print in the shape of a fan.


    URUSHI-YE.--A print in which lacquer is used to heighten the colour.
    The term is generally employed to describe only the early
    hand-coloured prints in which lacquer, colours, and metallic dust
    were applied to the printed black outline.

    YOKOYE.--A large horizontal print, about 10 × 15--the normal
    full-size landscape sheet.







      Bring forth, my friend, these faded sheets
    Whose charm our laboured utterance flies.
    Perhaps our later search repeats
    The groping of those scholars' eyes

      Who, ere the dawned Renaissant day,
    With duskèd sight and doubtful hand,
    Bent o'er the pages of some grey
    Greek text they could not understand;

      Drawn by the sense that there concealed
    Lay key to spacious realms unknown;
    Held by the need that be revealed
    Forgotten worlds to light their own.



    The general nature of Japanese prints--Growth of interest in
    them--The technique of their production--Their æsthetic

That sublimated pleasure which is the seal of all the arts reaches its
purest condition when evoked by a work in which the æsthetic quality is
not too closely mingled with the every-day human. Poetry, because of its
close human ties, is to a certain extent a corrupt art; its medium is
that base speech which we use for communicating information, and few are
the readers whose minds can absolve words from the work-a-day obligation
of conveying, first of all, mere tidings. Music, on the other hand,
employing a medium wholly sacred to its own uses, starts with no such
handicap; its succession of notes awakens in the listener no expectation
of an eventual body of facts to carry home. Between the two extremes lie
the graphic arts. These are perhaps most fortunate when they deal with
material not familiar to the spectator, for it is then that he most
readily accepts them as designs and harmonies, without looking to them
for a literal record of things only too well known to him.

The graphic art of an alien race has therefore an initial strength of
purely æsthetic appeal that a native art often lacks. It moves free from
the demands with which unconsciously we approach the art of our own
people. It stands as an undiscovered world, of which nothing can
logically be expected. The spectator who turns to it at all must come
prepared to take it on its own terms. If it allures him, it will do so
by virtue of those qualities of harmony, rhythm, and vision which in
these strange surroundings are more perceptible to him than in the art
of his own race, where so many adventitious associations operate to
distract him. Like a man whom Mayfair bewilders with its fashions, he
may find that fundamental verity, that humanity which he seeks only
among the Gipsy beggars.

Perhaps this theory best explains the impulse that has of late led many
lovers of beauty to turn to the arts of Persia, China, and Japan for
their keenest pleasure. Here, in unfamiliar environment, the fundamental
powers of design stand forth free. Here the beautiful is discoverable
for its own sake, liberated from the oppression of utility.

Toward Japan this impulse has in our own day been strongly directed. The
handicrafts of the Japanese people have charmed the Western world,
possibly to an undue extent. On the other hand, the great classical
schools of Japanese painting have unfortunately been difficult of
access. But between the two, half craft and half art, lies the Japanese
colour-print--a finer product than mere dexterous artizan work, and more
accessible than the paintings of the classic masters. In the print many
a Western mind has found its clearest intimation of the universal
principles of beauty.

During a period of a little more than a hundred years, roughly delimited
by 1742 and 1858, there were produced in Japan large numbers of
wood-engravings, printed in colours; these have of late come to occupy
an almost unique place in the esteem of European art-lovers. So great is
the importance now attached to these works that the Japanese public of
earlier days, for whose delectation they were designed, would be
astounded could they witness it. Just as obscure Greek potters moulded
for common use vases that are to-day treasured in the museums as
paradigms of beauty, so the coloured broadsheets, whose immediate
purpose was to give pleasure to the crowds of the Japanese capital, have
taken in the course of years a distinguished rank among the beautiful
things of all time.

The day is passing when the love of these sheets can be looked upon as
the badge of a cult, the secret delight of far-searching worshippers of
the strange and exotic. Even did the collector desire, he could not long
hide this light under a bushel; and the Japanese print is swiftly
becoming a general treasure. This is proper and natural. An
understanding of the origin of this form of art makes its present
popularity in Europe seem like the felicitous rounding of a circle begun
on the other side of the world.

It was in Yedo, the teeming capital of Japan, that the art of the
colour-print flourished; and the patron sought by the artists was
primarily the common man. No art more purely national or more
definitely popular and exoterical in its inception has ever existed. The
subjects of the prints are alone enough to make this fact evident. In
them appear the forms and faces of the popular actors in their admired
rôles, fashionable courtesans decked in all the splendour of their
unhappy but far-famed days and nights, legendary heroes, dancers,
wrestlers, and popular entertainers. In the matter of landscape, the
scenes shown are the festival-crowded temples of Yedo, the sunlit
tea-gardens and gay midnight boating-parties of the Sumida River, the
great highroads of national travel, the famous spots of popular
recreation. Only rarely are there episodes from aristocratic life; and
the occasional occurrence of these has precisely the significance of a
photograph of a royal house-party shown in a penny paper. The Yoshiwara,
as the licensed quarter of Yedo is called, appears in these prints more
often than do the garden-parties of noble ladies; the vulgar theatre is
shown, but not the classic Nō drama of the aristocracy; it is a Japanese
Montmartre, not a Japanese Faubourg St. Germain, that is revealed. The
artist's sense of beauty subdues these riotous pleasures of the populace
to the severe demands of a beautiful pattern; but it is a whimsical
vulgar world, a world of the people, a world of passing gaiety, that he

The purposes of these pictures were various. "To some extent," says Mr.
Frederick W. Gookin, "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.... 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, Yeishi, 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, mounted upon the sliding partitions
of the houses, perished in the fires by which the 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."

The plebeian origin of the prints explains why the cultivated Japanese
have not, as a rule, looked upon them with much enthusiasm. Only now,
when the greatest print treasures have gone out of Japan, are a few
Japanese collectors beginning to buy back at high prices works which
they allowed to leave the country for a song. The admiration of Europe
and America has awakened them to a realization of the distinction of
the prints, in spite of the undistinguished nature of their subjects;
and the day will come when the Japanese themselves will be the most
formidable bidders at the sales of great Western collections.

The interest of Western collectors in Japanese prints is of
comparatively recent origin. As late as 1861 it was possible for a
writer on Japan to regard them with blank indifference. There is a rare
little book by Captain Sherard Osborne, printed in that year in London,
called "Japanese Fragments." It contains six hand-coloured reproductions
of prints and a number of uncoloured cuts, all from prints which Captain
Osborne had purchased in Japan. In the following words he makes
reference to Hiroshige, who is now generally ranked as one of the
supreme landscape artists of all time: "Even the humble artists of that
land have become votaries of the beautiful, and in such efforts as the
one annexed strive to do justice to the scenery. Their appreciation of
the picturesque is far in advance, good souls, of their power of pencil,
but our embryo Turner (i.e. Hiroshige) has striven hard ..." etc. In
1861, perhaps, few people would have believed it possible that to-day
many serious judges might question whether any product of European art
has ever matched the designs of these "humble artists."

The earliest of European collectors was, according to Mr. Edward F.
Strange, a certain M. Isaac Titsingh, who died in Paris in 1812. M.
Titsingh had for fourteen years served the Dutch East India Company in
Nagasaki; and among his effects were "nine engravings printed in
colours." Doubtless he had acquired them merely as curiosities, without
any perception of their artistic importance. Mr. Strange notes that four
prints were reproduced in Oliphant's "Account of the Mission of Lord
Elgin to China and Japan" (1859); and, as we have seen, Osborne devoted
some desultory attention to prints in 1861. These are, perhaps, the
chief evidences of early European interest.

Subsequently such events as the International Exhibition in London,
1862, the Paris Exposition of 1867 and that of 1878, and the Centennial
Exhibition in Philadelphia, 1876, served to bring a few prints to the
notice of Western amateurs. Particularly in Paris was intense interest
in them aroused among painters and literary men. From 1889 to 1891, S.
Bing was bringing out in Paris his magazine _Le Japon Artistique_, whose
pages contain many fine reproductions of notable prints. In 1891, Edmond
de Goncourt issued his volume on Utamaro. Other books followed rapidly.
In 1895, Professor Anderson issued his small but important monograph on
"Japanese Wood Engraving." In 1896, Fenollosa's epoch-making catalogue,
"Masters of Ukioye," was published in New York, establishing for the
first time the foundations of all our present knowledge of this field,
and pronouncing judgments from which the consensus of later opinion has,
in the main, never departed. The same year brought forth de Goncourt's
"Hokusai." Mr. Strange's "Japanese Colour Prints" appeared in 1897. In
the same year, Von Seidlitz issued his "Geschichte des japanischen
Farbenholzschnittes" (published in England as "A History of Japanese
Colour Prints" in 1900), which remains to-day the most comprehensive and
accurate single treatise on the subject.

Of recent years, the growth of interest and the increase of books has
been rapid. Eager collectors have scoured the world to bring to light
new masterpieces; Japan has been ransacked so thoroughly that the
would-be purchaser can perhaps more wisely go to London or Paris or New
York than to Tokyo or Kyoto in his search for prizes; and the places of
honour accorded these sheets in the portfolios of discriminating
collectors and great museums leaves no doubt as to the esteem with which
they are regarded. Values have been multiplied by tens and hundreds, so
that to-day the supreme rarities among prints are beyond the reach of
the ordinary purchaser.

All this is due neither to accident nor to any strange freak of
whimsical tastes. It has come about because the prints are in fact
artistic treasures. Commonplace and trivial as the subjects of most of
them are, they rise by virtue of the quality of their execution to a
very high point--masterpieces of composition, triumphs of colour,
monuments of the power of human genius to impose its sense of rhythm,
form, and harmony on the appearances of the seen world.

But as is true in the case of any art, the content of the colour-prints
is not to be grasped at a first glance by the casual passer-by.
Familiarity with the aims selected, the conventions employed, and the
achievements possible is necessary before the specific charm of these
works makes itself manifest. It is the experience of most print-lovers
that, starting with perhaps a mere casual liking for a certain landscape
design, they progress gradually, in the course of years, to an
unmeasured delight in the whole body of prints, and eventually find in
them a unique source of repose and exaltation.

There are certain peculiarities, common not only to prints but to
Japanese art as a whole, that require a special effort of the Western
mind before they become acceptable. The first and most vital of these is
the absence of realism. "Throughout the course of Asian painting,"
writes Mr. Laurence Binyon, "the idea that art is the imitation of
Nature is unknown, or known only as a despised and fugitive heresy.... A
Chinese critic of the sixth century, who was also an artist, published a
theory of æsthetic principles which became a classic and received
universal acceptance, expressing as it did the deeply rooted instincts
of the race. In this theory, it is rhythm that holds the paramount
place; not, be it observed, imitation of Nature, or fidelity to Nature,
which the general instinct of the Western races makes the root-concern
of art. In this theory every work of art is thought of as an incarnation
of the genius of rhythm manifesting the living spirit of things with a
clearer beauty and intenser power than the gross impediments of complex
matter allow to be transmitted to our senses in the visible world around
us. A picture is conceived as a sort of apparition from a more real
world of essential life."

It will, therefore, be vain to expect in Japanese designs any production
that will astonish the spectator by its life-likeness, its fidelity to
an actual scene. Eastern art has never attempted to compete with the
work of photography. Its function is the function which the European
public grants to poets but not always to painters--the seeking out of
subtle and invisible relations in things, the perception of harmonies
and rhythms not heard by the common ear, the interpretation of life in
terms of a finer and more beautiful order than practical life has ever

All Asian art has recognized for centuries the fact that vision and
imagination are the faculties by which the painter as well as the poet
must grapple with reality. In the words of Mr. Binyon once more--"It is
always the essential character and genius of the element that is sought
for and insisted on: the weight and mass of water falling, the sinuous,
swift curves of a stream evading obstacles in its way, the burst of foam
against a rock, the toppling crest of a slowly arching billow; and all
in a rhythm of pure lines. But the same principles, the same treatment,
are applied to other subjects. If it be a hermit sage in his mountain
retreat, the artist's efforts will be concentrated on the expression,
not only in the sage's features, but in his whole form, of the rapt
intensity of contemplation; toward this effect every line of drapery and
of surrounding rock or tree will conspire, by force of repetition or of
contrast. If it be a warrior in action, the artist will ensure that we
feel the tension of nerve, the heat of blood in the muscles, the
watchfulness of the eye, the fury of determination. That birds shall be
seen to be, above all things, winged creatures rejoicing in their
flight; that flowers shall be, above all things, sensitive blossoms
unfolding on pliant, up-growing stems; that the tiger shall be an
embodiment of force, boundless in capacity for spring and fury--this is
the ceaseless aim of these artists, from which no splendour of colour,
no richness of texture, no accident of shape diverts them. The more to
concentrate on this seizure of the inherent life in what they draw, they
will obliterate or ignore at will half or all of the surrounding objects
with which the Western painter feels bound to fill his background. By
isolation and the mere use of empty space they will give to a clump of
narcissus by a rock, or a solitary quail, or a mallow plant quivering in
the wind, a sense of grandeur and a hint of the infinity of life."

This almost symbolic quality is the chief element of the pleasure to be
derived from Japanese art. Japanese designs are metaphors; they depict
not any object, but remote and greater powers to which the object is
related. Often the artist produces his effect by the exaggeration of
certain aspects, or by expressing particular qualities in the terms of
some kindred thing. If his subject happens to be an actor in some great
and tragic rôle, he will not hesitate to prolong the lines of the
drapery unconscionably, to give the effect of solemn dignity, slow
movement, and monumental isolation. Westerners may smile at the
distortion of such a figure; but they must acknowledge that an
atmosphere of lofty and special destiny surrounds the form, precisely
because the artist has dared to use these devices. The Japanese artist
will draw a woman as if she were a lily, a man as if he were a tempest,
a tree as if it were a writhing snake, a mountain as if it were a
towering giant. This is the very essence of poetical imagination; and
the result of it is to endow a picture with obscure suggestions and
overtones of infinite power. Symbols of existence beyond themselves,
these designs are charged with an almost mystical command upon the
emotions of the spectator. Western art has employed such a method
comparatively little in painting. In poetry it appears frequently. The
poet, when he wishes to convey the impression of a beautiful woman, does
not set out her features and her stature and all the details of her
aspect. He tries to awaken some realization of her by a bold and
fantastic leap of the imagination straight to the heart of the
matter--he makes her a perfume, a light, a music, a memory of goddesses.

The prosaic mind will never greatly care for work produced in accordance
with this principle; the conventions will seem distortions, the
imaginative generalizations will seem inaccuracies, and the transcending
of reality to shape a more universal and significant statement will
appear nothing more than ineptitude in grappling with fact. But to the
poetical mind, all these things will come with a unique and irresistible
fascination; and far more delightful than the novelty and interest of
the scenes represented will be the manner of their representation. As
one enters into the spirit of these paintings and prints, it is as if
one saw the world from a new angle, or had acquired the power to
assemble into new intellectual combinations those sensory impressions
which our own art has taught us to combine in a manner now grown a
little dull and stereotyped.

Japanese art has certain conventions that are highly individual. Some of
these may trouble and repel the Western eye. For example, the Japanese
artist draws his figures without shadows, and makes no attempt to
represent the play of light and shade over them. The scene is painted as
if in a clear, cold vacuum, where the diffusion of illumination is
almost perfectly uniform. In the Japanese view, a shadow is something
ephemeral and transitory--a mere accident and illusion, and as such
unworthy of perpetuation in art. The pattern of the object itself, freed
from this momentary tyranny, should be the sole theme of the artist.
Similarly, high-lights or chiaroscuro are not attempted; nor is
modelling by means of these employed. A universal flatness is the
result--a result deliberately aimed at.

Most of the European ideas of perspective are ignored in these works. In
accordance with the ancient Chinese canon--based upon an imaginative and
not upon a visual perception--the linear perspective of the Japanese
exactly reverses that of Western painting. In their system, parallel
lines converge as they approach the spectator. Different planes of
distance may be suggested merely by placing the remote plane higher up
in the picture; and sometimes no attempt is made to diminish the size
of the figures in the upper plane. These devices may seem very naïve to
the European. But in aerial perspective--the power to give to objects a
colouring appropriate to their relative distance from the eye--the
Japanese indisputably employ the utmost subtlety. When these artists
differ from European custom, it is not because of ignorance, but because
their way seems to them the more expressive--the better adapted to the
creation of those peculiar impressions of beauty which are their aim.
The longer one examines the products of these alien theories of drawing,
the less certain one is likely to be of the superiority of our more
scientific Western conventions.

In all Japanese art, the element of pure brushwork is of greater
importance than in the art of Europe. The people, trained from childhood
in the handling of the brush as a pencil for the drawing of the complex
forms of written characters, acquire a facility and accuracy unknown in
other lands. Fine caligraphy is esteemed an art in itself. And the
Japanese painter, whose life is devoted to further exercises with the
brush, may achieve a unique degree of skill. His power to sweep, guide,
and modulate the width and intensity of his line is developed into a
sixth sense. He can make his brush-stroke smooth-flowing as a
violin-note, or splintered as a broken branch, or wavering like the flow
of a river, or coldly hard and sharp as flint; sometimes it has the edge
of a knife; at other times it dies away into imperceptible gradations;
its blacks are dazzling in their intensity, its greys are like veils of
mist. The mystery of the expression of pure personality in art is
nowhere more strikingly exemplified than here. To the accustomed eye the
line-work of the Japanese artist is vibrant with intimate connection
between hand and spirit. This command of the brush, so perfect that the
passion of the artist's soul flows out through it, is one of the vital
characteristics of Japanese painting.

The colour-print is one small and peculiar division of the larger field
of Japanese pictorial design; besides being subject to the general laws
of Japanese æsthetics, it is distinguished by certain special
characteristics that grow out of the nature of the technique employed.
Of this technique, Mr. F. W. Gookin gives an illuminating exposition:--

"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 plank-wise as in the case of the blocks used by
European wood-engravers in the time of Dürer. The paper was then
carefully 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-ē) 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 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 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 one 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 extent of
the discoloration wrought by time.

"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 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 occasion) by Hokusai. 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 manipulations 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 blocks
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 secure perfect
register, in regulating the pressure 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 results produced by this technique, as it was employed in the great
period of the art, have no parallel. When Dürer, in the fifteenth
century, brought wood and steel engraving to such brilliant perfection,
he determined the future history of European engraving, fixing the line
of greatest development in the region of black-and-white, where, except
for sporadic excursions of debatable merit, it has continued ever since.
Fortunately, in Japan, colour and line did not part company, but in
combination progressed toward a unique triumph.

A print produced by this technique is simply a sheet of paper upon
which are impressed, by means of hand-charged wood blocks, a series of
patches of colour that combine into a design. In general, each of these
patches is flat and unshaded; its edges are sharp, definite, bounded by
a line as distinct as the line of the lead used in stained glass. In the
print, as in the stained-glass window, only major lines and important
colour-masses can be shown; thus elimination of the incidental and
selection of what is vital are imperatively demanded of the designer.
Salient curves and expressive outlines are the essential requisite. One
reason why these prints seem classic is that they are purged of the
thousand unimportant and meaningless gradations of tone that are easy to
use in a painting and impossible here. Singular purity and loftiness of
effect is the result, together with a certain abstract aloofness from
reality that has a high æsthetic value.

Into the drawing of these few lines, and into the construction of these
few flat colour-spaces, went all the artist's sense of proportion and
rhythm, grace and dignity, movement and tone. On the flat wall of his
printed sheet he devised a pattern that should weave, out of figures and
objects, a decorative design upon whose harmonious mosaic the eye would
willingly linger. There he played his music to allure and beguile and
absorb the spectator.

Like his fellow-painters of all Asia, the print-designer did not feel
that literal accuracy greatly concerned him. If the figures moved with a
stately godlike grace in rhythmic procession, what matter if they were
taller or shorter than real beings? If their faces were expressive of a
noble calm or a sublime fury, why ask for a detailed mirroring of a real
face? If the landscape was beautiful, was it important that the real
scene could never look exactly thus?

As an example of the curious conventions that dominate this art, the
observer will note the way in which heads are drawn by these artists.
With very rare exceptions, the angle from which all the heads are seen
is the same. In the print, as in the Egyptian wall-carvings, the head is
held in a poise dictated by a traditional formula. The face is turned
half-way between profile and full-face; the nose approaches but does not
intersect the line of the cheek; the outline of the nose is shown, and
also the broad sweep of the brow, while at the same time both eyes are
visible. For two centuries, with only occasional variations, this
formula for drawing the face persisted; and in the submission to this
wisely chosen type--admirably adapted as it was to exhibit most
expressively the whole map of the features--is revealed something of
that willingness to accept discipline, style, and conventionalization
which in these artists went side by side with so much originality.

A magic world--a pure creation of the imagination in its search for
beauty! This convention in the drawing of the faces has much to do with
the unreal quality we find there. Something in the repetition and
uniformity of the heads produces a delicate visionary impression, a
trance-like mood--as does the rhythm of poetry or music. Under its
spell the emotion of the spectator comes forth free from its daily
bonds and preoccupations, in the liberation that only art can give.

To these regions of pure æsthetic experience the amateur turns with
delight--not only as an escape from practical life, but as an escape
from much that is known to the Western world as art. The childish mind
loves pictures that tell a story; but the more sophisticated
intelligence goes to a work of art for those elements which lie far
beyond the region of episodic narration--elements that are allied to the
principles of geometry, the laws of motion, the excursions of pure
music, the visions of religious faith. Though these manifestations are
difficult to correlate, they all arise from one fountainhead; and the
best of the Japanese prints lie very close to the source of the






At the outset of the seventeenth century was inaugurated the Tokugawa
Dynasty of Shoguns or military dictators, by the victories of the great
warrior and statesman Iyeyasu over rival factions. Upon acquiring the
Shogunate--a position which had for long eclipsed the power of the
Emperor--Iyeyasu laid a wise but iron hand upon Japan, forcing all
departments of industry, society, and even art into rigid forms whose
pattern was laid down by his far-seeing mind. The same policy guided his
successors of the Tokugawa Dynasty; so that during the whole period of
print production Japan was a land of gorgeous feudal splendour,
regulated by inflexible rules of conduct and manners that amounted
almost to caste regulations.

That subtle interpreter of the ideals of the East, the late Kakuzo
Okakura, thus analyses the state of society at that time: "The
Tokugawas," he writes, "in their eagerness for consolidation and
discipline, crushed out the vital spark from art and life.... In their
prime of power, the whole of society--and art was not exempt--was cast
in a single mould. The spirit which secluded Japan from all foreign
intercourse, and regulated every daily routine, from that of the daimyo
to that of the lowest peasant, narrowed and cramped artistic
creativeness also. The Kano academies of painting--filled with the
disciplinary instincts of Iyeyasu--of which four were under the direct
patronage of the Shogun and sixteen under the Tokugawa Government, were
constituted on the plan of regular feudal tenures. Each academy had its
hereditary lord, who followed his profession, and, whether or not he was
an indifferent artist, had under him students who flocked from various
parts of the country, and who were, in their turn, official painters to
different daimyos in the provinces. After graduating at Yedo (Tokyo), it
was _de rigueur_ for these students, returning to the country, to
conduct their work there on the methods, and according to the models
given them during their instruction. The students who were not vassals
of daimyos were, in a sense, hereditary fiefs of the Kano lords. Each
had to pursue the course of studies laid down by Tannyu and Tsunenobu,
and each painted and drew certain subjects in a certain manner. From
this routine, departure meant ostracism, which would reduce the artist
to the position of a common craftsman."

Yet it would convey a wrong impression of the Tokugawa period to suggest
that bureaucratic tightness of regime was its sole or most vital
characteristic. The age was marked as strongly by its expansive powers
as by the restraints that attempted to direct them. For in this epoch,
the common people, set apart in a class distinct from the warriors and
aristocracy, rose to a vigour and cultivation that was almost a new
thing in Japanese history. "It was," writes Fenollosa, "like the rise of
the industrial classes in the free cities of Europe in those middle
centuries when the old feudal system was breaking up. There, too, could
be seen armoured lords of castles flourishing side by side with burghers
and guilders. It is the same duality which forms the keynote of Tokugawa
culture taken as a whole.... The keynote of Tokugawa life and art is
their broad division into two main streams--the aristocratic and the
plebeian. These two flowed on side by side with comparatively little
intermingling. On the one side select companies of gentlemen and ladies
congregated in gorgeous castles and yashikis, daimyos and samurai,
exercising, studying their own and China's past, weaving martial codes
of honour, surrounding themselves with wonderful utensils of lacquer,
porcelain, embroidery, and cunningly wrought bronze; and on the other
side great cities like Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Yedo, swarming with
manufacturers, artizans, and merchants, sharing little in the castle
privileges, but devising for themselves methods of self-expression in
local government, schools, science, literature, and art."

Examining into the history of Japanese colour-prints, one must leave
entirely aside the interesting and sometimes sublime art of the
cultivated and aristocratic classes and their tradition-hallowed
schools of painting. The prints were solely the product of the popular
school; they were in a way allied to those delicate Japanese
handicrafts, such as bronze and lacquer, which are characteristically
the output of the common people.

The Tokugawa regime was one of national peace. The country, long
disturbed by both internal and external wars, settled down at last under
the strong Tokugawa banner to two centuries and a half of tranquillity.
The vital activity of this time was not diffused and scattered over the
whole country, but was chiefly centred upon one spot, the ancient
"Capital of the East," Yedo, now called Tokyo. Here, under the dominance
of the great Iyeyasu, the life of the empire was brought to a focus.
Iyeyasu forced all the great nobles, living customarily on their estates
scattered throughout the empire, to come to Yedo and remain there in
residence for at least half of each year, in order that he might keep
his hand upon them and prevent them from springing up to rival power.
The natural effect of this regulation was to give Yedo a supreme
importance in the realm, and to cultivate in Yedo the growth of every
form of popular activity. There, in the metropolitan centre, all the
agencies of pleasure burst into luxurious bloom; the tea-houses, the
theatres, the riverside gardens, and the Yoshiwara or courtesans'
quarter, all took on a new and alluring splendour; and Yedo became the
great city and the great art centre of Japan.

At this time, aristocratic art, in the hands of the later generations of
the Kano School of painters, was not only largely inaccessible to the
common people, but was also no longer in its prime. The giants of the
Kano School were long since dead. In the place of their vigorous
inspiration only superficiality and formalism remained. Long since dead
was that lofty idealistic art, best known to us in the work of Sesshu,
which had distinguished the preceding Ashikaga Period--an art which, to
quote Mr. Laurence Binyon, "deals little in human figures and has no
concern with the physical beauty of men and women, contenting itself
mainly with the contemplation of wide prospects over lake and mountain,
mist and torrent, or a spray of sensitive blossoms trembling in the
air." Yet even though the earlier greatness of the aristocratic schools
of painting was passing or had passed in this seventeenth and eighteenth
century epoch, still the authority derived by the Kano painters from
their connection with the court of the Shogun gave them dictatorship
over matters of art; and their academy imposed its technique upon all
aspirants for the favour of the aristocracy. The rival school of the
Tosas, associated closely with the court of the Emperor in Kyoto, was no
less careful of tradition and discipline. Thus the moribund art of the
upper classes stood alone like a little island, shut out from the art of
the people, unable to influence it or to be influenced by it.

Therefore Japan, at the time when the popular school came into
existence, was in a curious state: subject to a strict disciplinary
system that kept the common people and the aristocracy apart; enjoying
a period of peace and a centralization of resources that gave the common
people in their isolation a favourable opportunity to develop a culture
of their own; and suffering from a growing degeneracy in the classical
schools of painting that might be counted on to drive at least an
occasional aristocratic artist out into the ranks of the people were any
interesting opportunity offered there.

At this juncture, early in the seventeenth century, there arose in Yedo
a new movement which later was to produce the colour-print.

This new movement was called the Ukioye School. The real gap between it
and the older classical schools has been by many writers grossly
exaggerated. One might well gather from them that the Ukioye artists
were the first in all Japanese art to draw subjects selected from real
life and to paint with vivid humanism. This is by no means the fact. All
the subjects treated by the Ukioye painters had been at some time used
by the painters of the older schools; and certainly the usual subject of
the Kano or Tosa painter was as real and vivid to him as were any of the
themes of the popular artists to these creators. Each painted his
customary environment--what was closest to his experience and dearest to
his æsthetic perceptions: on the one hand, traditionary and religious
figures, scenes from poetry, reflections of Chinese or old Japanese art;
and on the other hand, the pulsing life of Yedo streets, the tea-gardens
of the Sumida River, the theatres, and the brilliant houses of pleasure.
Yet having suggested that the gap between the two was not immeasurable,
we may grant that it was nevertheless real. Ukioye concerned itself with
contemporary plebeian life, its shows and festivals and favourites of
the hour, to an extent alien to the more restrained and almost monastic
tradition of the older art. Ukioye means "Passing-world Picture"; there
is implied in the word a reproach and an accusation of triviality. It
suggests values not recognized by that orthodox Buddhistic attitude of
contemplation which regards life as a show of shadows, a region of
temporal desire and illusion and misery, a vigil to be endured only by
keeping fixedly before the vision pictures of the desireless calm of
Nirvana. But no such profound philosophy of despair and abnegation as
this could find real root in the hearts of a lively populace like that
of Japan; in that nation, the lonely minds of sequestered aristocrats
alone could give it more than nominal habitation. The Ukioye School,
since it was a popular school, remained as unshadowed by Buddhism as
modern French poster-art is by Christianity; and the distance between
the spiritual attitudes of Giotto and Aubrey Beardsley is no greater
than that between the attitudes of Kanaoka and Utamaro. All that aureole
of moral idealism which hallowed the classical Japanese art was
abandoned by the popular school for a frank acceptance of the joy of the
world and its enthralling lures.

The style adopted by the new school in portraying the life of the
multitude allowed itself a certain keen realism, often tinged with
humour and sometimes with mild obscenity. This realism appears only
occasionally, and it is generally so completely subordinated to the
decorative impulse that realism is the last word by which a Western
observer would describe it. Only by way of contrasting it with the
idealism of the older schools can one thus classify the arbitrary
attitudes, mask-like faces, and fanciful colour schemes of Ukioye. This
arbitrariness indicates another characteristic of the new manner. It was
a flippant style which took nothing seriously except itself. Its
technique departed from the sacred traditions of Kano and Tosa brushwork
and the inheritance of Chinese painting canons. It developed a novel use
of clear, hard outline, unrestrained sweep, brilliantly fresh colour,
and strong contrast, that relied on no precedent for their appeal and
awakened no sanctioning echo from the classic masters.

Not unnaturally the aristocracy were repelled by the plebeian and vulgar
nature of the subjects of the new school. Their sensibilities were
injured by the throwing overboard of traditions of style that stretched
back through many centuries to the founders of the art in China, and by
the genuine lack of distinction in the spiritual attitude and outlook of
many of these new painters. The modern European, bred of a different
artistic lineage, may regard these objections as negligible; but he must
remember that it is perhaps his own ignorance of Japanese classics that
makes him so tolerant; and he may properly hesitate to condemn hastily
the aristocratic Japanese opinion.

The aristocratic opinion is readily comprehensible. The Ukioye School
without doubt lacks that almost religious idealism by which the earlier
Japanese schools of painting attained a subtlety perhaps excessively
rarefied, an allusiveness almost too remote, a sublimation of intangible
spiritual values that very nearly reaches the vanishing-point. No such
serene cultivation of feeling is to be found in the Ukioye painters.
"Great art is that before which we long to die," says Okakura; and the
overstrained intensity of his words conveys to the Westerner some
conception of the passionate spirituality which the cultivated Japanese
desires and finds in the works of the older painters. The Japanese
connoisseur misses in Ukioye that exaltation which, in the creations of
Sesshu or Yeitoku or Kanaoka, leads him up to heights whence he surveys
mountain and lake lying like a visionary incantation before him, or
feels the giant loneliness of pines upon a snowy crest, or enters into
the ineffable spirit of the white goddess Kwannon meditating in a
measureless void of clouds and streams.

These things are not to be found in Ukioye--these ultimate reaches of
the Oriental spirit; but there is here a more human and lovable beauty,
and a power of design no less notable than that of the aristocratic

It must be granted that the colour-prints of this school constitute the
fullest and most characteristic expression ever given to the temper of
the Japanese people. Asia--the region of measureless, overwhelming
spaces, innumerable lives, and immemorial antiquity--Asia speaks in the
older paintings; but in the amiable prints, the one voice is the
defined, circumscribed, and beguiling voice of Japan. The colour-print
constitutes almost the only purely Japanese art, and the only graphic
record of popular Japanese life. Therefore it may be regarded as the
most definitely national of all the forms of expression used by the
Japanese--an art which they alone in the history of the world have
brought to perfection.

The beginnings of the Ukioye School antedated by many years the
beginnings of colour-printing. Iwasa Matabei, the founder of the school,
was born in 1578 and died in 1650. At first it was the aristocracy that
applauded this pioneer, who was not yet alienated from them; then some
vital element in Matabei's manner kindled enthusiasm outside this
circumscribed region and set in motion the forces which eventually
resulted in a popular school of art.

After Matabei, the Ukioye School did not take any immediate turn toward
notable development. In fact, it is doubtful whether its importance
could have been far-reaching had its activity been always, as in its
earliest days, confined to painting. It was, however, the destiny of the
school to come into a relation with the hitherto undeveloped art of
wood-engraving; and its alliance with this popular medium increased a
thousand-fold the breadth of its appeal and the force of its sway.

The art of wood-engraving in Japan originated some time between the
twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Legend associates the first use of it
with the great priest Nichiren, who lived from 1222 to 1282. Ryokin,
also a priest, produced a woodcut which is dated 1325. No date earlier
than this last can be fixed upon with any confidence. The few specimens
of early woodcuts that have survived are pious Buddhistic
representations of religious paintings or statues, which were probably
sold to pilgrims as mementoes of their visit to some famous shrine. In
artistic merit these earliest woodcuts have no interest; their
importance is entirely historical.

By the end of the sixteenth century the process of wood-engraving had
come into use as a means of illustrating books. From this time on,
mythological, romantic, and legendary works, such as the "Ise
Monogatari," were frequently so embellished. Most of the designs were
very crude, and the cutting of the wood blocks displayed only elementary
skill. These early books were in no way connected with the Ukioye
School, which they in fact antedated; they were wholly the product of
the old classical tradition. Contemporaneously with them were produced
fairly vigorous but clumsy broadsides, representing historical scenes.
Occasionally a few spots of coarse colour were applied by hand to these

By the middle of the seventeenth century there began to appear
illustrated books in which the rudimentary elements of artistic
pictorial feeling are visible. A few have a slight Ukioye cast. Not
until the last quarter of the century, however, did wood-engraving
achieve the dignity of a fine art and the scope of a popular method of
expression. That it then did so was due to the genius of Moronobu, an
Ukioye painter, the first of the great print-designers.








The Primitive Period, first of those epochs into which the history of
Japanese prints may be roughly divided, begins about 1660 with the
appearance of the work of Moronobu. The period ends a century later
when, after many experiments, the technique of the art had been
developed from the black-and-white print to the full complexity of
multi-colour printing.

The commonly accepted name of "the Primitives" requires some explanation
when applied to these artists lest it create the impression that we are
dealing with designers in whose works are to be found the naïve efforts
of unsophisticated and groping minds. Nothing could be farther from the
truth. Thousands of years of artistic experience and tradition lay back
of these productions; and the level of æsthetic sophistication implied
in them was high. The word Primitive applies to these men only in so
far as they were workers in the technique of wood-engraving. As
producers of prints they were indeed pioneers and experimenters; but as
designers they were part of a long succession that had reached full
maturity centuries earlier.

Whether it be that a new technical form, like an unexplored country,
tends to exclude from entrance all but bold and vigorous spirits, or
whether it be that the stimulus of difficulty and discovery inspirits
the adventurer with keener powers, these Primitives were as a group
surpassed by none of their successors in force and lofty feeling. They
seized the freshly available medium with an exuberance of vitality that
had not yet lost itself in the deserts of a fully mastered technique.

"These Primitives," says Von Seidlitz, "are now held in far higher
esteem than formerly. We recognize in them not only forerunners, but men
of heroic race, who, without being able to claim the highest honours
paid to the gods, still exhibit a power, a freshness, and a grace that
are hardly met with in the same degree in later times. Despite the
imperfections that necessarily attach to their works, despite their lack
of external correctness, their limitations to few and generally crude
materials, and their conventionalism, there clings to their work a charm
such as belongs to the works neither of the most brilliant nor of the
pronouncedly naturalistic periods. For, in the singleness of their
efforts to make their drawing as expressive as possible, without regard
to any special kind of beauty or truth, these Primitives discover a
power of idealization and a stylistic skill which, at a later period
and with increased knowledge, are quite unthinkable."

To the new Ukioye School these Primitives gave the first great opening
for popularity. Their broadsides and albums disseminated among the
millions of Yedo the product of the new and vigorous art-impulse. They
were the river-streams through which the lake reservoirs of Ukioye art
returned to the sea of popular life whence the waters had come.

Fenollosa's picture of the popular life during a portion of this
Primitive Period, the Genroku Era (1688-1703), is not without its
significance in this connection. "This was the day when population and
arts had largely been transferred to Yedo, and both people and samurai
were becoming conscious of themselves. The populace of the new great
city, already interested in the gay pleasures of the tea-houses and the
dancing-girls' quarter, were just elaborating a new organ for
expression, namely the vulgar theatre, with plays and acting adapted to
their intelligence. They had just caught hold, too, of the device of the
sensational novel. Now here was an army of young samurai growing up in
the neighbouring squares, who were just on the _qui vive_ to slip out
into these nests of popular fun. For the time being, freedom for both
sides was in the air. Anybody could say or do what he pleased. Fashions
and costumes were extravagant. Everybody joined good-naturedly in the
street dances. It was like a world of college boys out on a lark; to
speak more exactly, it had much resemblance to the gay, roistering,
unconscious mingling of lords and people in the Elizabethan days of
Shakespeare, before the duality of puritan and cavalier divided them."

The subjects depicted by the Primitive artists for the pleasure of this
populace are drawn from the flourishing life thus described. First and
foremost, the stage is represented; and the greatest prints of this
period are, as a rule, the single figures of actors portrayed in their
rôles. But social and domestic scenes also find place here; and all the
play of fashion and recreation, the occupations and amusements of the
ladies, the boating-parties and tea-house scenes, the street and the
festival, appear in brilliant succession.

In the general style of their designs the Primitives were all controlled
by one fundamental aim--that of decoration. This dominating quality
appears most clearly in the large actor-prints which we associate with
the names of Kwaigetsudō, Kiyonobu, Masanobu, and Toyonobu. To an extent
greater than the artists of any succeeding period they eschewed
minuteness of detail and accuracy of representation, sacrificing these
things for the sake of achieving broad decorative effects combined with
vigorous movement. A certain unique simplicity and grandeur in the
spacial and linear conceptions of these men gives to the whole Primitive
Period a Titanic character that distinguishes it. In the best works of
this time the stylistic finish of the drawing is masterful. It
translates motion into sweeping caligraphic lines, and creates imposing
calm by the poise and balance of severe black-and-white masses. Just as
in opera the flow of music induces in the auditor a state of
semi-trance that makes him oblivious to the patent absurdities and
unrealities of the action, so in these pictures the rhythmic flow of the
composition lifts the consciousness of the spectator to a plane where it
ceases to take note of the incorrect report of Nature and loses itself
in the enjoyment of the noble decorative conceptions that actuate the
creating hand.

A profound formalism dominates these works. The figures are purely
one-dimensional; the picture is a flat pattern of lights and darks
bounded by the sharp outline of great curves. In the actor-pieces no
real portraiture of the actor as an individual is essayed; the artist's
aim is rather to convey some sense of the dynamic power of the rôle in
which the actor appears. He succeeds so well that his pictures, though
not representations of individuals, stand as abstract symbols of grace
or of power.

Historically, one of the chief interests in this period centres upon the
notable developments in technique. Wood-engraving was, as we have seen,
already known when the period opened; but it had not yet been subjected
to the purposes of the artist. Confined almost exclusively to crude book
illustrations, it had as little artistic significance as the cheap
hand-painted sketches called _otsu-ye_, which, produced by hundreds,
were sold for the amusement of the populace.

With the advent of the gifted Moronobu, the book-illustration was
transformed into an important and beautiful creation. Going further,
Moronobu and his successors produced single-sheet prints of large size,
in black and white only, that served all the purposes of paintings and
were capable of being reproduced without limit. These black-and-white
prints were called _sumi-ye_ (Plate 1). Books and albums by him appeared
at various earlier dates, but the first of his single-sheet prints was
issued about 1670.

The second step in development came with the realization that the
brilliant colour of the older _otsu-ye_ could easily be imparted to the
new prints. So some of the sheets of Moronobu and his contemporaries
were coloured by hand with orange, yellow, green, brown, and blue,
somewhat after the manner used by the painters of the classical Kano
School. In the actor-prints there began to appear, shortly after 1700,
solid masses of orange-red pigment. These sheets were called _tan-ye_,
from the _tan_ or red lead used in them. About 1710 citrine and yellow
were used in connection with the _tan_ (Plate 2). By 1715 or a little
later, _beni_, a delicate red colour of vegetable origin, was
discovered, and almost entirely replaced the cruder _tan_. Prints thus
coloured were called _kurenai-ye_.

About 1720 it was found that the intensity of the colouring could be
enhanced by the addition of lacquer. Red, yellow, blue, green, brown,
and violet were used in brilliant combination; and their tone was
heightened by painting glossy black lacquer on the black portions of the
picture, and sprinkling some of the colours with sparkling powdered gold
or mother-of-pearl. Such prints were called _urushi-ye_, or
lacquer-prints (Plate 5).

These various methods of hand-colouring prevailed up to about the year
1742. At this time, a method was perfected by which two colour-blocks
could be used in printing; and the true colour-print came into
existence. Masanobu is generally credited with being the inventor of the
new technique. The first colours employed were green and the red known
as _beni_; and from this the prints derived their common name of
_beni-ye_ (Plate 6). Later many varieties of colour were tried. To some
print-lovers, these two-colour prints seem unequalled in beauty.

About 1755 a method was devised by which a third colour-block could be
employed, and blue was the colour at first selected to accompany the
original green and red. Then blue, red, and yellow were used, and other
variations; and in the hands of such men as Toyonobu and Kiyomitsu, rich
decorative effects resulted (Plate 7).

To the end of the period hand-colouring was still occasionally used for
large and important pieces such as pillar-prints; but the old method
lost ground steadily, and the day of the polychrome-print was at hand.

To give in more detail the history of this period, the strict
chronological method must be abandoned; and each of the important
artists must be taken up in turn as an independent creator.


Hishikawa Moronobu, born probably in 1625, was the son of a famous
embroiderer and textile designer who lived in the province of Awa.
Moronobu worked at the trade of his father during his youth, obtaining
thus a training in decorative invention that is traceable in all his
later work. Upon the death of his father, he came to Yedo and took up
the study of painting under the masters of the Tosa and Kano Schools.
Gradually, however, the Ukioye style, introduced by Matabei some years
before, became his chosen province; and from painting he turned to the
designing of woodcuts for book illustrations and broadsheets. Later in
life he became a monk; and died probably in 1695, though some
authorities say 1714.


Moronobu's importance in the history of Japanese prints is twofold. He
inspirited the Ukioye School with a new vitality; and he turned
wood-engraving into an art.

The Ukioye movement, when Moronobu appeared, was still indeterminate. A
great personality was needed to crystallize the vague tendencies then in
solution. This Moronobu accomplished; and the far-reaching effect of his
work was due to the fact that he did not confine his work to painting,
but took up the hitherto unexplored field of woodcuts. As we have seen
in the previous chapter, there had been produced up to Moronobu's time
no illustrated book that could lay claim to artistic value. The little
that had been done in this field was crude artizan work without
charm. Now Moronobu seized this medium and transformed it. Into his
woodcuts he poured that powerful sense of design which he so notably
possessed, creating real pictures of striking decorative beauty. These
books and prints, widely circulated, carried to the eyes of the masses a
new and delightful diversion, spreading far and near the contagious
fascination of this lively Ukioye manner of drawing and awakening in the
populace a thirst for more of these productions. Matabei had devised the
new popular style, but it was Moronobu who threw open the gates of this
region to the people.


Black and white. Size 9 × 13½. Unsigned.

_Plate 1._]

Moronobu's first books appeared about 1660, and from that date to the
time of his retirement he brought out more than a hundred books and
albums and an unknown number of broadsheets. In all of these his
vigorous, genial personality and his strong sense of decoration make
themselves felt. Such a print as the album-sheet reproduced in Plate 1
exhibits his characteristic simplicity of sweeping line, the masterly
use he makes of black and white contrasts, and the vivid force of his
rendering of movement. The firm lines live; the composition is grouped
to form a harmonious picture; a dominating sense of form has entered
here to transform the chaotic raggedness of his predecessors' attempts.
Distorted as these figures may appear to unaccustomed Western eyes, they
have unmistakable style and their bold command of expression is the
first great landmark in Japanese print history.

All of Moronobu's work was printed in black and white only, but
occasionally the sheets were roughly coloured by hand after they had
been printed. His designs have little detail; as a rule the scene
surrounding his main figures is barely suggested by a few lines; and the
figures themselves are hardly more than intense shorthand notations of a
theme. But how much life he gives them! No wonder that the populace
loved his work, and that his many pupils bore away with them to their
own productions the impress of his strong personality and animated

Certain of Moronobu's large single-sheet compositions (such as the Lady
Standing Under a Cherry Tree, in the Buckingham Collection, Chicago, or
the noble Figure of a Woman in the Morse Collection, Evanston), display
so fine a power of composition and so unsurpassable a mastery of
rhythmic line that there can be no hesitancy in judging him, quite apart
from his historical significance, to be an artist of the first order.
Nothing that he ever did was undistinguished.

The collector will not find it easy to procure adequate specimens of
this artist's work. Moronobu's large single sheets are unobtainable
to-day; they could never have been numerous, and the few that have
survived the vicissitudes of almost three centuries are now in the hands
of museums or collectors who will never part with them. Even his smaller
single sheets are uncommon. His work is seldom signed.


The powerful impetus of Moronobu's art communicated itself to many

MOROFUSA was the eldest son of Moronobu; he collaborated with his
father, and produced designs that are in exact imitation of his father's
style. His work comprises book illustrations and some large single
sheets, and is very rare.

Additional pupils or contemporaries were: Moromasa, Moronaga, Morikuni,
Masanojo, Moroshige, Morobei, Masataka, Osawa, Morotsugi, Moromori,
Hishikawa Masanobu, Tomofusa, Shimbei, Toshiyuki, Furuyama, Morotane,
Ryujo, Hasegawa Toun, Ishikawa Riusen, Ishikawa Riushu, Wowo, Kawashima
Shigenobu, Kichi, Yoshimura Katsumasa, and Tsukioka Tange. Many of these
are obscure figures, of whose work little is known. Most of them were
chiefly book-illustrators.



The name of Nishikawa Sukenobu brings to mind that long procession of
charming girl figures which year by year came from his hand--figures
whose sweet monotonous faces and delicately poised bodies move with a
pure grace that is perpetually delighting. Lacking the powerful
decorative sense of Moronobu, whose lead he in general followed, and
never attempting the massive blacks of the master's dashing
brush-stroke, Sukenobu yet achieved effects that are more gracious and
appealing than those of his great predecessor. Nothing could surpass
the delicate harmony of line in such a design as the one reproduced in
Plate 2; the willowyness of the young body, the naïve innocence of the
head, the movement and rhythm of the flowing garments, are admirably
depicted. This was Sukenobu's characteristic note; he lingers in one's
memory by virtue of it and none other; he was the least versatile of

He lived between the years 1671 and 1751. During the period of his
activity his popularity must have been enormous. The single-sheet prints
which he produced were not many, and only a small proportion of these
have come down to us. His main work was in the field of illustrated
books and albums. More than forty of these are known to-day. They
contain chiefly scenes from the lives of women and figures of young
girls. Most of them date from 1713 to 1750. They constitute Sukenobu's
claim to rank as Moronobu's most important successor in the field of
book-illustration. Generally they are printed in black and white only; a
few are embellished with colour added by hand. It is not always possible
to tell whether this colouring was done when the books were published or
whether it was the work of some subsequent owner of the volume.

The delicacy of Sukenobu's designs, and the absence of those peculiar
mannerisms and exaggerations which characterize much of the work of this
period, serve to make him, of all the Primitives, perhaps the most
comprehensible and pleasing to the European taste. To the Japanese
connoisseur he recommends himself because of the refinement of his
work both in subject and in manner, and because of a certain classic
dignity that pervades it.


Black outlines, with hand-colouring of pale green, orange, and white.
Size 9½ × 6. Unsigned.

_Plate 2._]

The collector will do well to bear in mind that the books of Sukenobu
were frequently reprinted long after his death; and these later
impressions, lacking the original sharpness of line and intensity of
tone in the blacks, are not desirable acquisitions. The original
editions of his books are still to be found occasionally. His
single-sheet prints are, however, of great rarity.


In the period immediately succeeding Moronobu--the early years of the
eighteenth century--the work which of all others stands out with a
unique and colossal grandeur is that of Kwaigetsudō.

Kwaigetsudō has long been a puzzle to the student. The original idea
held by Fenollosa and other authorities, that all the prints signed
Kwaigetsudō were by one man, has been abandoned; and the theory now
prevails that there existed a group of artists, headed by a dominant
master named Kwaigetsudō, and that all of these artists produced prints
signed with his name together with their own. The most perplexing
problem has been to determine which of the print-makers was the original
master and which were his disciples. Dr. Kurth confidently states that
Kwaigetsudō Norishige, was the original master. On the other hand, Mr.
Arthur Morrison has recently expressed the opinion that the original
Kwaigetsudō was solely a painter, who produced no prints whatsoever. His
studio name was Kwaigetsudō Ando; his personal name was Okazawa
Genshichi; he was a late contemporary of Moronobu, and worked in Yedo
from about 1704 to 1714, when he was banished to the island of Oshima in
consequence of his participation in a scandal involving a gay banquet
party at a theatre tea-house attended by certain Court ladies. Later he
was pardoned, but did not resume his work. According to this theory all
the prints were the work of his followers, who signed the name
Kwaigetsudō with various additions. This view is probably the correct

The names of the Kwaigetsudō group of print-designers that have so far
come to light are--


The Kwaigetsudō work is perhaps the most powerful and imposing in the
whole range of Japanese prints. The sheets, of large size, generally
represent the single figure of a standing woman clad in flowing robes.
So much for the theme; it is nothing. But the treatment consists of a
storm of brush-strokes whose power of movement is like that of writhing
natural forces; out of this seething whirl of lines is built up the
structure of the monumental figure.


Black and white. Size 24½ × 12.

_Signed Nippon Kigwa Kwaigetsu Matsuyo Norishige._

Spaulding Collection.

_Plate 3._]

The Kwaigetsudō reproduced in Plate 3 exhibits these qualities. The body
is merely suggested, but with complete effectiveness, under the great
swirls of the robes. The dominance of the main curves, the vigour of
the blacks, and the importunate life that vitalizes every touch and
line, give Kwaigetsudō a place as high as the greatest contemporaries or

All the Kwaigetsudō work was printed in black and white; sometimes the
print was hand-coloured by the application of spots of _tan_, or red
lead. Excellent full-size reproductions of several of them are
obtainable. With these reproductions the ordinary collector will be
obliged to content himself, for the whole number of Kwaigetsudō prints
in existence can scarcely be more than a score or two. They are perhaps
the rarest of all prints.


_Kiyonobu Speaks._

      The actor on his little stage
    Struts with a mimic rage.
    Across my page
    My passion in his form shall tower from age to age.

      What he so crudely dreams
    In vague and fitful gleams--
    The crowd esteems.
    Well! let the future judge if his or mine this seems--

      This calm Titanic mould
    Stalking in colours bold
    Fold upon fold--
    This lord of dark, this dream I dreamed of old!

With Kiyonobu begins that school of painters, the Torii, which was to
take the initiative during the first half of the eighteenth century in
developing the actor-portrait to a very high level, and which still
later was to have the honour of claiming as its head Kiyonaga, in whom
the whole art culminated. It may be convenient to list here the
successive leaders of the school, who were in their turn entitled to the
name of _the_ Torii, and whom we shall take up in their order.

Torii I           Kiyonobu I           (1664-1729)
Torii II          Kiyomasu             (1679-1763)
Torii III         Kiyomitsu            (1735-1785)
Torii IV          Kiyonaga             (1742-1815)
Torii V           Kiyomine             (1786-1868)
Torii VI          Kiyofusa             (1832-1892)

The importance of the school terminated with Kiyonaga, or at latest with

[Illustration: TORII KIYONOBU.]

Kiyonobu I, the founder of the Torii line, was born in 1664 and died in
1729. It is said that he was first a resident of Osaka, and then of
Kyoto; and that he finally came to Yedo about the beginning of the gay
and brilliant Genroku Period, 1688-1703. Thus he must have been in Yedo
a few years before the death of Moronobu in 1795, and it is evident that
he studied the Moronobu style. Kiyonobu's father is variously reported
to have been either an actor or a painter of theatrical sign-posters; at
any rate his connection with the theatre was a close one. This
circumstance doubtless determined the line of the son's activity in
designing. About 1700 Kiyonobu produced the first single-sheet
actor-print in black and white only. From this it was only a step to the
production of _tan-ye_, which he probably invented--actor-sheets simply
but brilliantly coloured by the application of orange to certain
portions of the picture. In this manner he issued both _hoso-ye_ (that
is, sheets about 12 inches high and 6 inches wide) and sheets of larger
size, perhaps the most striking being actor-portraits, sometimes several
feet in height, which enjoyed an immense popularity. By about 1715 he
had taken up a more delicate kind of hand-colouring known as
_kurenai-ye_, which some writers think he himself devised. A few years
later he adopted the _urushi-ye_ technique, increasing the number of
colours and using lacquer to heighten the brilliancy of the effect.

Kiyonobu's subjects comprised a few landscapes of no great interest, and
figures of several types. His _forte_ was the representation of actors
and heroes of history. His bold and gigantic style of drawing lends some
probability to the story that he was, when he first came to Yedo, a
painter of huge theatrical sign-boards or posters for the exteriors of
theatres. The same manner that would be appropriate for these is found
in his prints--arresting, forceful, highly exaggerated. His designs must
be regarded as establishing for all later times the general type to be
used in actor-portraits. This constitutes his greatest historical

The prints which appear to be Kiyonobu's earliest are marked by an
extraordinary development of line, handled in great sweeping strokes.
The brushwork is indicated with much dash and _bravura_, in the manner
of the painter as distinct from the print-designer. A hasty glance might
lead one to mistake some of these early compositions for the work of a
Kwaigetsudō, though they are, as a rule, more uncouth.

Although power of line always remains one of Kiyonobu's characteristics,
there appears in his later work a certain insistence on spaces, a
treatment of the surface of the print as if it were a placque into which
were to be inlaid large flat masses of a different substance. The robes
are broken up into definite segments with sharp boundaries like parts of
a picture puzzle, instead of remaining a surface on which to display the
splintering vigour of brush-strokes. This second style is admirably
adapted to the technique of wood-engraving.

The geometrical quality of some of Kiyonobu's designs is striking. There
are several of his large _tan-ye_ in which the whole print is nothing
more than a series of great circles, brought into relation with each
other, as part of the decoration of the drapery, by wild and whirling

The work of Kiyonobu varies greatly in attractiveness. Some of his
prints have more force than beauty; and it requires little effort to
understand the contempt of the aristocracy for these crude
manifestations of the mob's taste. Yet even in these grosser designs
Kiyonobu realizes the power and passion of the dramatic rôle which he
depicts, achieving an effect of tragic rage that is no less intense and
impressive because of its lack of subtlety. Most of his prints suggest
the shout and roar of bombast: this is precisely what they were meant to
convey. But there are a few of another type, that embody the masterful
power of line of the first Torii, joined with a simplicity and
refinement of design which his work frequently lacked, or which, if
present, is disguised from us by the repellent violence of the figure
portrayed. One must see Kiyonobu's rarest and greatest prints in order
to realize why he is regarded as so great an artist.

I have written of Kiyonobu as if he presented no difficulties; but such
is not the case. A stumbling-block for the student is created by the
fact that there exist many two-colour prints signed Kiyonobu. It is
recorded that Kiyonobu died in 1729, many years before the date fixed
upon by Fenollosa and most other authorities as the date of the
invention of colour-printing. If we are to believe that the numerous
colour-prints signed Kiyonobu are by the first Torii, we must either put
back the date of the invention of colour-printing to an extent that is
improbable in view of other facts, or we must abandon the recorded date
of Kiyonobu's death and regard his life as having extended well beyond
the middle of the eighteenth century. Formerly this difficulty was not
appreciated, and all work signed Kiyonobu was confidently attributed to
the first Torii; but at present it is generally regarded as likely that
there was a second Kiyonobu who produced all the two-colour prints
signed with that name. Whether he produced any hand-coloured prints is
uncertain. This Kiyonobu II theory has met with scepticism in certain
quarters, and some students prefer to accept the alternative of one of
the two other possible solutions of the puzzle. Certain differences in
style between the hand-coloured and the two-colour work confirm the
Kiyonobu II theory to such an extent that I have felt constrained to
adopt it here. It may be disproved eventually, but it is the best
solution available at present. I shall therefore take up Kiyonobu II as
a separate artist, without again drawing attention to the unsettled
state of the relation between him and Kiyonobu I.

[Illustration: TORII KIYOMASU.]


Kiyomasu, the second head of the Torii School, has been variously
regarded as the brother or the son of the first Torii. The question of
this exact relationship is a matter scarcely worth all the words that
have been wasted upon it. What is important is the well-known fact that
the two kinsmen worked side by side in the same studio for many years
producing work of precisely the same type. The most experienced judges
would find it impossible in some cases to distinguish between their

Kiyomasu was born about 1679; some authorities say 1685; but if it is
true, as Von Seidlitz states, that there exists a play-bill by him which
is dated 1693, the earlier of the two dates is the only possible one.
Since Kiyonobu was born in 1664, the theory that they were brothers is
the more probable. Kiyomasu's chief work was done contemporaneously with
Kiyonobu's, in black and white, _tan-ye_, and _urushi-ye_; but later he
produced some prints in two colours. His subjects were chiefly women and
actors; he executed a few small landscapes and some fine representations
of birds. His work must have continued some years after 1743, but
appears to have terminated a considerable time before his death in 1763
or 1764.

A more prolific artist than the first Torii, Kiyomasu was in some
particulars an equally distinguished one. Possibly his originality was
less marked in that he merely followed the actor type which had already
been created by Kiyonobu; but in the power of his draughtsmanship,
reminding one again and again of a tempered Kwaigetsudō, he is no
secondary figure. Nothing can surpass the vigour of linework in some of
his large figure prints--great curves made with a heavily charged brush,
expressing with notable simplicity the beauty of flowing drapery. His
masterpiece is undoubtedly that superb figure in black and white of the
actor Kanto Koroku (in the Buckingham Collection, Chicago), drawn in the
Moronobu-Kwaigetsudō manner, which is reproduced in Fenollosa's "Epochs
of Chinese and Japanese Art" with the erroneous attribution of Kiyonobu.
This print is a triumph. Nothing finer was designed by all the
succeeding generations of artists.


Kiyonobu II, who signed all his work simply Kiyonobu, was a son of
Kiyomasu, and probably a nephew of Kiyonobu I. His whole name was Torii
Kiyonobu Shirō. He appears to have worked chiefly from about 1740 to
about 1756, the period of the predominance of the two-colour print. All
two-colour prints signed Kiyonobu are by this artist and not by the
first Torii, who died before the process was invented. Kiyonobu II is
regarded by many collectors as the best representative of the two-colour
technique. His figures have a delicacy and grace that is alien to the
work of his two predecessors in the Torii School; and his handling of
the green and rose designs of these prints is charming. The great
insistent colour masses and monumental figures of his predecessors
undergo a change in his hands to a more detailed division of colours and
a slightening of the forms of the bodies and limbs. Also the old
passionate vigour of brushwork disappears in the new technique--a loss
that seems a grave one.

Most writers speak of Kiyonobu II as a two-colour artist only. It is,
however, fairly established that at least one of the _urushi-ye_ signed
Kiyonobu is by Kiyonobu II. That he did a few three-colour prints is
certain. His work, like that of all these early men, is rare. It is
particularly difficult to find examples of his _beni-ye_ that are in
good condition, since the rose-colour has in most cases entirely faded.


KIYOTADA was one of the best known and one of the most brilliant of the
numerous followers of the great Torii pioneers. He is said to have been
a pupil of Kiyonobu I. His period of production began not far from 1715,
and ended before the invention of two-colour printing. His prints are
all _tan-ye_ or _urushi-ye_, some of them slightly like Okumura Masanobu
in style. Certain of his _hoso-ye_ have fascinating curves and superb
colour--red, yellow, green, pink, and black, woven together into rich

KIYOSHIGE produced very fine actor-portraits coloured by hand, which
remind one distinctly of Kiyonobu I in his later period. Large masses of
colour are used by him with powerful decorative effect; and the
geometrical designs of his textiles are sometimes striking. Kiyoshige's
work has a strong yet graceful quality that makes him worthy of more
attention than he has hitherto received. He lived to produce some
two-colour prints. Dr. Kurth believes him to have been the first to use
the pillar-print form for actor-portraits. His working period was from
about 1720 to about 1759.

HANEGAWA CHINCHŌ was an eccentric and interesting figure, who, though a
pupil of Kiyonobu I, appears to have been more closely related to the
Kwaigetsudō School than to the Torii. Born about 1680 he, by birth a
Samurai, became a Ronin, and entered the studio of Kiyonobu. He was
erratic, proud, and isolated. In spite of his pressing poverty, he
worked at print-designing only when it pleased him to do so, which was
seldom; and though he lived until 1754, his output was small. He was a
poet and an aristocrat. His single-sheet prints have a curious esoteric
quality--strange, stiff, beautiful curves that are not quite like the
work of any other designer. Chinchō's work is of extraordinary rarity;
there can scarcely be more than a score of his prints in existence.

HANEKAWA-WAGEN is represented by two prints in the Buckingham
Collection. Nothing is known of him.

KIYOTOMO, whose work appears to fall entirely within the period of
hand-coloured prints, produced excellent actor designs, in some of which
the line-work reminds one slightly of Kwaigetsudō. The influence of
Kiyomasu appears in some of his _urushi-ye_. His prints are
distinguished by their vigour and are found but seldom.

SANSEIDO TANAKA MASUNOBU produced hand-coloured and two-colour prints in
the Torii manner. A print by him dated 1746 is known, but most of his
work precedes 1740. He is not to be confused with the Masunobu who was
Harunobu's pupil.

KIYOSOMO is said to have been a distinguished pupil of Kiyonobu I,
influenced also by Okumura Masanobu.

Other men of this period, closely connected with the Torii School, were:
Kiyoake, Kondo Sukegoro Kiyoharu, Katsukawa Terushige, Nishikawa
Terunobu, Nishikawa Omume, Fujikawa Yoshinobu, Tamura Yoshinobu, Tamura
Sadanobu, Kichikawa Katsumasa, Kiyomizu Mazunobu, Shimizu Mitsunobu,
Kondo Kiyonobu, Kondo Katsunobu, Kiyorō, Tadaharu, and Nakaji Sadatoshi.


Black and white. 10 × 15. Unsigned.

_Plate 4._]

[Illustration: OKUMURA MASANOBU.]


_A Figure._

      Garbed in flowing folds of light,
    Azure, emerald, rose, and white,
    Watchest thou across the night.

      Crowned with splendour is thine head;
    All the princes great and dead
    Round thy limbs their state have shed--

      Calm, immutable to stand,
    Gracious head and poisèd hand,
    O'er the years that flow like sand.

Okumura Masanobu may be termed the central figure of this period: not
only does he tower among the greatest men of the time, but around him
revolve the changes in technique, full of far-reaching consequences,
which came into being with his invention of two-colour printing.

Furthermore, he takes on an additional historical importance as the
founder of the Okumura School, which continued parallel with the Torii
School, and whose productions are characterized by a finer development
of grace and elegance than is to be found in the output of the rival

Masanobu was born about 1685, and lived until about 1764--a life of very
nearly eighty years, full of varied achievements. During the course of
his career he used many names, among which Genpachi, Hōgetsudō,
Tanchōsai, Bunkaku, and Kammyō are the most frequent. Little is known of
his life except that he began as a bookseller in Yedo. He is reputed to
have been a pupil of Kiyonobu, but Mr. Arthur Morrison believes this to
be an error, and thinks that Masanobu was an independent artist educated
in no one of the Yedo schools. Whichever account may be correct, it is
at least certain that Masanobu shows in his work few traces of
resemblance to the first of the Torii masters. It is equally clear that
he was early and strongly influenced by the work of Moronobu, who died
when Masanobu was only ten years old, but whose designs were of course
still widely known. It is said that soon after 1707 Masanobu founded a
publishing establishment in connection with his book-shop, issuing
prints as well as books. This must have afforded him great opportunities
for experiments in technique, and may have been no small factor in
making possible the remarkable advances for which he was responsible.


Black outlines, with hand-colouring of black lacquer, orange, yellow,
and gold powder. Size 13½ × 6. Signed _Yamato no Gwako, Okumura
Masanobu, hitsu_.

_Plate 5._]

[Illustration: HŌGETSUDŌ.]

Masanobu's earliest works were book-illustrations and albums, which
closely follow the manner of Moronobu. Plate 4 reproduces one of
these. Parallel with them he produced a number of _tan-ye_, the large
single-sheet prints in black and white, which, after printing, were
coloured by hand with orange pigment. These probably date from before
1720, although exactness cannot be hoped for. About 1720 he began to do
work in a medium which he is said to have invented--the _urushi-ye_, or
lacquer-prints, in which the lacquer gives a new richness and luminosity
to the various colours. An example of these appears in Plate 5. The
device of heightening the effect by applying gold powder to certain
portions of the design was also employed by him. A play of light that is
extraordinarily fascinating often marks his combinations of colours. By
about 1742 a new technical advance, the most vital in the whole history
of the art, came into existence; and Masanobu is generally credited with
its invention. This was the employment of two blocks beside the black
key-block to print two other colours upon the paper. The importance of
this step was immeasurable: when it was taken the doom of the
hand-coloured print was sealed, and the way to still further development
lay open. At first the colours used by Masanobu in his two-colour works
were a delicate apple-green and the equally delicate rose called _beni_,
from which the name _beni-ye_ came to be applied to all the two-colour
prints of this period. A print of this type appears in Plate 6. The
combination of these two colours is singularly lovely, and the fresh
charm of these sheets has led some collectors to prize them as the most
beautiful products of the art.

Certainly Masanobu's mastery of the problem of producing a rich and
vivacious colour-composition by the use of only two colours is
noteworthy. By varying the size and shape of his colour masses, and by a
judicious use of the white of the paper and the black of the key-block,
he produces an effect of such colour-fullness that it requires a
distinct effort of the mind to convince oneself that these prints are
designs in two tones only, and not full-colour prints. Masanobu lived
long enough to produce some three-colour prints, when these were devised
about 1755, but the effects he obtained in them were possibly less
fascinating than those of his earlier process.

It can probably never be proven that Masanobu was, in fact, the inventor
of all the devices that were attributed to him--the lacquer-print, the
_beni_ print, the use of gold powder, and the first actual prints in
colour. Certainly some of them may be credited to him; but any one
familiar with the growth of hero-legends knows how a great name attracts
to itself in popular report achievements that were really the fruit of
scattered lesser men. To the list of Masanobu's probable inventions must
be added the pillar-print, that remarkable type, about 4 to 6 inches
wide and 25 to 40 inches high, which was to be an important form of
design from this date on. It is possible that we must also attribute to
him the invention of the mica background--that silver surface of
powdered mica which give a curious and beautiful tone to the figures
outlined against it.


Printed in black, green, and rose. Size 12 × 6. Signed _Hogetsudo
Okumura Masanobu, hitsu_. Chandler Collection.

_Plate 6._]

Of Masanobu as a designer it is difficult to speak with moderation.
Through his work runs that sweeping power of line which he derived from
his study of Moronobu, and, in addition, an elegance and suave grace
that is the expression of his innate grace of spirit. The grandeur of
certain others of the Primitives is austere and harsh, but Masanobu is
always mellow and harmonious. His figures, more finely proportioned than
most of the figures of the period, sway in easy motion--a mixture of
sweetness and distinction characterizes the poised heads, superb bodies,
and ample draperies of his women, while every resource of compact and
dignified design is expended upon the impressive figures of his men. A
certain large geniality, a wide, sunlighted warmth of conception, runs
through his work. The dramatic distortions of his Torii predecessors and
contemporaries are melted in him, as towering but uncouth icebergs melt
in the sun of kindlier latitudes. At times his line-work has a force
that seems derived from the Kwaigetsudō tradition; more often it is
imbued with a gentler rhythm no less expressive of strength. In his
finest designs he achieves notable balance of line, and a massing of
colour beside which, as Fenollosa remarks, "even the facades of Greek
temples were possibly cold and half-charged in comparison."

Women, out-of-door scenes, and a few actors, constitute the main
subjects of Masanobu's work. As a portraitist, his few productions, such
as the well-known humorous pillar-print of the story-teller Koshi
Shikoden, give him rank as the greatest of his time. The landscape
backgrounds in some of his smaller prints are a delightful innovation,
executed with delicate power of suggesting by a few strokes the whole
circle of a natural setting. The quiet charm of these landscapes
surrounds with an atmosphere of felicity the beautiful figures that move
through them.

A full and brilliant life stirs in all Masanobu's work. At no other
period in the history of Ukioye was such effective use made of the
patterns of draperies. The elaborate fashions of the brocades worn in
this day lent themselves to the decorative needs of the larger prints;
and frequently we find the figures clothed in a riot of striking
textiles--flowers, trees, birds, ships, geometrical shapes--all mingled
in the weave of the cloth, and arranged by the print-designer into a
combination that is tumultuous without confusion and glowing without
garishness. Masanobu's pictures seem the overflow of his spirit's
wealth; they never have the ascetic and rarefied quality that sometimes
appears in the work of even great artists.

Masanobu's work is scarce. His larger and more important prints very
rarely appear outside of the great collections.


OKUMURA TOSHINOBU, a son of Masanobu who died young, was the best as
well as the most famous of Masanobu's pupils. He gave promise of
becoming one of the notable print-designers, and even in his short
career produced work of high quality. Born about 1709, his period of
production covered the years of the lacquer-prints, and ended before
1743. His _urushi-ye_, lithe in design and powerful in colouring,
constitute almost his whole known work.

Okumura Masafusa, Shuseido, Hanekawa Chiucho Motonobu, and Mangetsudō
may be mentioned as other and less important pupils of Masanobu.


Nishimura Shigenobu is an artist about whom there is great confusion. He
is variously called the father, the son, or the pupil of the
better-known artist Shigenaga: the first of these alternatives is the
most probable. Nothing is known of Shigenobu's life, and very little of
his work is extant. Kurth says that Shigenobu founded the Nishimura
School, and worked in the manner of the earliest Torii. Von Seidlitz
believes that he did some work in the Kwaigetsudō manner. Fenollosa
dates his work 1720-40, and thinks that he worked first like the Torii,
then like Masanobu. At present it seems impossible to gather further
information about this interesting artist.


Nishimura Shigenaga was at one time regarded as the inventor of the
two-colour process; but now that the weight of opinion attributes this
invention to Masanobu, Shigenaga remains a figure whose importance is
hardly diminished. He must still be regarded as perhaps the most notable
master of the Nishimura School, both as a designer and as the teacher
of a group of pupils whose brilliancy is equalled by the disciples of no
other artist.

Shigenaga was born in 1697 and lived until 1756. He used the names
Senkwadō and Magosaburō as well as his own. Little is known of him
personally, except that he was probably the son of Shigenobu.


His work began with black-and-white prints in the manner of Kiyonobu;
these were already something of an anachronism at the date when he
commenced his designing. He then turned to _urushi-ye_, and produced
some beautiful examples. About 1742, when the two-colour process was
invented, he made himself one of the most successful masters of it. Dr.
Anderson reproduces, as the frontispiece of his "Japanese
Wood-Engraving," a fine example of Shigenaga's work in this technique,
but erroneously dates it as 1725--more than fifteen years too early.
Shigenaga also did fine work in the three-colour process, of which he
may possibly have been the inventor. His designs comprise not only women
and actors, but also landscapes, flowers, animals, and birds. His
versatility is one of his most striking characteristics.

It was from the style of Masanobu that Shigenaga drew his most lasting
stimulus; and among his sheets we shall find many a figure worthy to
stand beside his master's serene creations. Dr. Kurth calls him a
"faded or weakened Masanobu"; but this term can be applied with justice
to only a portion of Shigenaga's work. His productions are uneven; part
are indeed somewhat tame; but certain of his designs rise to a high
level. His finest works, which are rare, are his figures of graceful
women in the Masanobu manner. But he was no mere imitator. The Masanobu
poise, the Masanobu flow and patterning of garments he did, it is true,
adopt; but with how fresh and sensitive a life does he infuse them!

Shigenaga's pupils comprise most of the great men of the succeeding
generation Toyonobu, Harunobu, Koriusai, Shigemasa, Toyoharu, and many
others learned from him the elements of their art. Thus Shigenaga may be
regarded as the most important bridge between the Primitives and the
later men, passing over to them the traditions of the older schools
together with the stimulus of that fresh, inventive, and assimilative
spirit which was peculiarly his own.


Among the less important pupils or associates of Shigenaga may be named
the following artists:--

TSUNEGAWA SHIGENOBU produced work much like Shigenaga's; in the few
prints of his which I have seen there is grace and ease, but not great
strength. His work appears to have been mainly in _urushi-ye_. Mr.
Gookin believes this name to be merely the early name of Nishimura

YŌSENDŌ YASUNOBU or ANSHIN, by whom a fine lacquer-print with strong
blacks is in the Spaulding Collection, may, with some hesitancy, be
classed here. Mr. Gookin thinks this signature may be merely one of the
studio names of some more famous artist.

NAGAHIDE, dated by Strange about 1760, appears to belong to this group.
The Harmsworth Collection, London, contains a print by him representing
famous theatrical characters depicted by geisha, the colours partly
printed and partly applied by hand.

HARUTOSHI is known to me only by one pillar-print, in the manner of
Shigenaga's actors. It is doubtful where he should be classified.

were obscure pupils of Shigenaga.

YAMAMOTO YOSHINOBU is said by Fenollosa to have been a pupil of
Shigenaga, and possibly the same as KOMAI YOSHINOBU, who is treated
later under Harunobu. Dr. Kurth thinks him a member of a Yamamoto
School, which comprised also YAMAMOTO DENROKU, YAMAMOTO SHIGENOBU,


Printed in black and three colours. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Tanjodo,
Ishikawa Shuha Toyonobu ga_. Chandler Collection.

_Plate 7._]


_A Pillar Print._

      O lady of the long robes, the slow folds flowing--
    Lady of the white breast, the dark and lofty head--
    Dwells there any wonder, the way that thou art going--
      Or goest thou toward the dead?

      So calm thy solemn steps, so slow the long lines sweeping
    Of garments pale and ghostly, of limbs as grave as sleep--
    I know not if thou, spectre, hast love or death in keeping,
      Or goest toward which deep.

      Thou layest thy robes aside with gesture large and flowing.
    Is it for love or sleep--is it for life or death?
    I would my feet might follow the path that thou art going,
      And thy breath be my breath.

Ishikawa Toyonobu, who not many years ago was regarded as an artist of
secondary importance, has of late, thanks to fresh discoveries, come to
be esteemed by competent observers as one of the giants of the line--one
of those masters among the Primitives whose dignity of composition makes
all but a handful of his successors appear petty beside him.

[Illustration: ISHIKAWA TOYONOBU.]

This important artist, who sometimes signed himself Shuha, was, like so
many other of the better men of his time, a pupil of Shigenaga. In his
early work we find him influenced by the suave and noble figures of
Okumura Masanobu more than by the figures of his direct master. Born in
1711, Toyonobu lived until 1785; and the long space of his life thus
extended beyond the period of the Primitives and into the period of
polychrome printing. Nevertheless his real activity terminated with the
end of the Primitive Period. His earliest work was in black-and-white
or hand-coloured; from this he passed on to two-colour prints, a manner
in which he produced many _hoso-ye_ of flawless grace; and then into
three-colour prints, in which his most important work was accomplished,
and "whose classic master," as Kurth says, "he may be called." Between
1755 and 1764, the great period of the three-colour print, Toyonobu
stood almost unmatched in the field. A fine example of his work appears
in Plate 7. After 1764 the ascendancy of Harunobu eclipsed Toyonobu;
even the classic style of the older master could not match the brilliant
and popular innovations of Harunobu's "brocade pictures." He was
therefore driven to take up the technique of full-colour printing. In
one print he gives us figures like those of Koriusai; in another he
follows Harunobu with the most complete exactness. Though forced to the
wall, the old giant could still fight his rivals, and with their own

The works of Toyonobu's prime--particularly his pillar-prints--produce a
singular impression of lofty greatness. His line-arrangements have
always a magical serenity and balance, and the repose of his
compositions is equalled only by their strength. In these tall figures,
where hauntingly lovely lines never degenerate into mere sweetness,
there is a combination of rigour with suavity, of force with grace, that
makes him forever memorable. His masterful precision, and the curiously
"towering" effect which his figures produce, as in the Girl with the
Umbrella reproduced in Plate 8, serve to mark him as one of the
important representatives of the grand style in design.


Black outlines, with hand-colouring. Size 27 × 6. Signed _Tanjodo
Ishikawa Shuha Toyonobu zu_. Metzgar Collection.


Printed in black and three colours. Size 27 × 4. Signed _Ishikawa
Toyonobu hitsu_.

_Plate 8._]

Perhaps more than any other artist of the Ukioye School, Toyonobu
devoted himself to the drawing of the nude. These rare works are among
the finest of his productions, and are so distinctly an exception to the
general practice of Japanese artists that they call for special remark.
Certain other painters also produced a few such pictures, but they must
all be regarded as sporadic phenomena running counter to the
characteristic Japanese feeling. The national temper recognizes feminine
beauty in art only when clothed; and it is due solely to the profounder
perception of a few great artists that any such designs have come down
to us. One is moved to speculation over this curious fact, particularly
when one considers that the sight of the body, at least among the lower
classes, must have been almost as common in Japan at this time as it was
in Greece during the great period of Athenian art. But very different
was the reaction produced upon the two races by this familiarity. In the
Greeks, it encouraged an art whose prime aim was to give expression to
those harmonies and hints of perfection that lie hidden in the
imperfections of each individual body; so that we have from the Greeks
those syntheses and idealizations of the human form which still haunt us
like faint memories of the gods. But in the Japanese mind, the sense of
the individual defects seems to have overpowered the impulse to creative
idealism; and the people, as a race, turned from the nude figure to the
more easily manipulated beauties of flowing robes and gorgeous patterns,
translating Nature into images of an alien richness, and love into
hyperboles of public splendour. That part of Nature which lay outside
themselves they could indeed cope with, as the lofty visions of
landscape which they have transcribed testify; but with a few
exceptions, such as Toyonobu and Kiyomitsu and Kiyonaga, they dared not
attempt the final venture of rationalizing the uses and aspects of the
body. And it is because of an inadequacy whose source and root spring
from this attitude that posterity will perhaps rank this art below the
art of Greece, adjudging even the matchless subtlety and refinement of
these designs to be no adequate compensation for the absence of that
frank Greek courage which attempted to clarify and ennoble the
fundamental conditions of the existence of man.

Toyonobu, great artist that he was, overstepped the national barrier and
came very near to surpassing the finest achievements of Greek art.


Printed in black and three colours. Size 11½ × 5½. Signed _Torii
Kiyomitsu ga_.

_Plate 9._]


_Pillar Print of a Woman._

      A place for giant heads to take their rest
    Seems her pale breast.

      Her sweeping robe trails like the cloud and wind
    Storms leave behind.

      The ice of the year, and its Aprilian part,
    Sleep in her heart.

      Therefore small marvel that her footsteps be
    Like strides of Destiny!

_Pillar Print of a Man._

      Out of spaces hazed with greyness, out of years whose veils are grey,
    With the slow majestic footsteps of a lord of far-away,
    Comes a form that out of glooming
    Rises from some old entombing
    To confront once more the day.

      And with splendid gesture dwarfing the confusion of our hands,
    With his ancient calm rebuking the unrest of vain demands,
    He with solemn footsteps slowly
    Passes: and his garments holy
    Leave the scent of holy lands.

[Illustration: TORII KIYOMITSU.]

Kiyomitsu took his place as the third great head of the Torii line,
succeeding his father Kiyomasu. In subject and in manner, it is the
Torii tradition that he carries on. We know nothing of his life, save
that he was born in 1735 and died in 1785. His work falls almost
entirely within the class of two- and three-colour prints. I know of
only one hand-coloured print by him; but as his dates denote, he lived
far into the period of polychrome printing, and was a partaker in
Harunobu's experiments in colour. Von Seidlitz is wrong in saying that
no polychrome prints by Kiyomitsu are known; a few exist and are very
beautiful. He did little work after 1765, and is to be regarded as most
characteristically an artist of the Primitive Period--in fact one of the
greatest. Certainly between 1755 and 1764, no one but Toyonobu could
rival him; and these two may be ranked the supreme designers of the
three-colour epoch.

The outstanding feature of Kiyomitsu's work is its formalism. Whatever
he touches is compressed to a pattern, and rendered into bold
hieroglyphics of sweeping curves. His line is simple, powerfully
dominated by a circular movement that is singularly and inexplicably
delightful. His colours, even while they remain only two or three in
number, never lack variety and strong decorative effect. The slightness
of the use which he makes of black is noteworthy; he compensates for its
absence by choosing heavy opaque colours of rich tone. Some authorities
regard him as the first to employ a third colour-block.

Kiyomitsu's work is markedly stylistic--even dominated by a certain
mannerism; one comes to recognize almost infallibly the formula he uses,
and to regard as an old friend that peculiar swirl of drapery, swing of
body, and artificial poise of head which appear, as in Plate 9, like an
accepted convention throughout the larger number of his designs. The
convention is an agreeable and highly æsthetic one, based on fundamental
curves of great beauty. But the invariability with which he employs this
formula gives Dr. Kurth some excuse for regarding him as a monotonous
and over-estimated artist. Had we only Kiyomitsu's _hoso-ye_ prints, it
might be possible to agree with Dr. Kurth; for these figures, enchanting
and full of elegance as they are, certainly are dominated by a sameness
of manner such as one finds in no other series of _hoso-ye_. But the
truth of Dr. Kurth's depreciations must be questioned if one turns to
the pillar-prints, which constitute the real glory of Kiyomitsu's
career. The two reproduced in Plate 10 exhibit his power. Kiyomitsu may
be regarded as one of the half-dozen greatest masters of the
pillar-print shape of composition. Much of his finest work is in this
form. Here his somewhat tight curves lengthen out into flowing beauty;
and the dignity always inherent in his drawing appears at its best.


Black and three colours. Size 28 × 4. Signed _Torii Kiyomitsu ga_.


Black and three colours. Size 27 × 4. Signed _Torii Kiyomitsu ga_.

_Plate 10._]

Kiyomitsu's rare nudes take a place close beside those of Toyonobu. They
have a keen poetic charm; and though their vigour is less marked than
that of Toyonobu's, their grace and elegance of movement is at least as

The collector may find it useful to remember that long after Kiyomitsu's
death, Kiyomine and Kiyofusa sometimes used the great name of Kiyomitsu
as a signature to their own works. Only an inexperienced observer could
mistake these late and decadent productions for the work of the original


Torii Kiyohiro has been rated by some writers as more highly gifted than
Kiyomitsu. This praise appears absurdly extravagant; yet in disputing
such a claim, one must admit the great charm of Kiyohiro's work. He is
said to have been a pupil of Kiyonobu II; his career runs parallel with
that of Kiyomitsu, and he seems frequently to imitate that artist. The
period of his greatest prominence was between 1745 and 1758; his work is
all in two or three colours. A delicate draughtsman, his figures have
marked grace of poise and firmness of design. His mannerism is less
stereotyped than Kiyomitsu's; some of his prints have great beauty, but
he never reaches certain heights which Kiyomitsu attained. Prints by him
are uncommon.

[Illustration: TORII KIYOHIRO.]


Torii Kiyotsune produced delicate and distinguished prints in two or
three colours, much like those of Kiyomitsu. Most of his figures are
characterized by a curious slenderness and exquisiteness; but they are
somewhat lacking in vigour. After 1764 he fell under the influence of
Harunobu and adopted full-colour printing, still retaining, however,
that very individual type of face--a little scornful, a little
fastidious in expression--which marks his designs. His work is rare.


Among the pupils of Kiyomitsu may be noted Torii Kiyosato, Torii
Kiyoharu, Morotada, Kiyotoshi, Torii Kiyomoto, and Torii Kiyohide. Their
work was almost contemporaneous with that of the master.

Amano Toyonaga, Ishikawa Toyomasu, and Ishikawa Toyokuma were probably
pupils of Toyonobu.






    SHUNSHO (1764-80)

The transition from primitive to sophisticated art is very like the
progression of a race from its heroic youth to its elaborately gifted
maturity. Life grows more complex, the material riches and the machinery
of living become more diversified; but it is still to the early days
that one looks for the strongest development of personality and the most
daring achievement in the face of great difficulties. Sophistication, in
the history of an art as of a race, brings refinements and nuances
unknown to the pioneers; but it cannot intensify and may often encumber
the spiritual force and essential genius of the creators. The great
individuals of the earlier time developed all that was essential as far
as it could be developed; the later enlargement of scope is in the
direction of the material and the accidental. In the Primitives we find
the full stature of the spirit; in the art of later days, with all its
parade of processes, we shall hardly find more.

In the First Period the initial impulse of print-designing manifested
itself in work that was powerful and beautiful, but of simple technique.
In the Second Period the barriers that confined the Primitives were
swept away by new possibilities of expression. The three-colour prints
gave place to prints in which an unlimited number of blocks could be
employed; and this enlargement of the artist's resources produced a new
and splendid blossoming. In this Second Period the art seemed to
hesitate midway between the forces of the primitive inspiration, which
was one of pure and stately decoration, and the more naturalistic forces
that were making ready for the Third Period, with its fuller rendering
of the lights and spaces of life. The presence of both groups of forces
makes this Second Period possibly the most interesting of all.

The specific characteristics of the period are sharply marked. They
consist, first of all, in technical advances--the mastery of full-colour
printing and the realization through this process of the marvellous
colour-dreams of the great masters. But beyond the technical advances
there is a change in spiritual attitude; the artist, heretofore content
to create a pure decoration, a masterful mosaic that expressed his
æsthetic ideals, now begins to adopt a more personal attitude in his
treatment of the forces and spectacles of daily existence. True, he
disposes these elements arbitrarily; the picture he creates is a world
of imagination; but as compared with the Primitives, he tells us more
of his experience and is closer to our own. Even his most fanciful
designs bring to us some remote and abstract echo of known voices. Lyric
joy speaks through Harunobu, dramatic terror through Shunsho, splendour
through Koriusai, mystery through Buncho; and though the medium be a
symbol, and its connection with reality as remote as that of music, yet
by the vividness of the emotion evoked in us we may judge of the
definiteness of the artist's motive, and realize through colour and line
an intangible human voice.

The stream of art history here flowed in two main channels. One was the
Katsukawa School, headed by Shunsho, which like the older Torii School
devoted itself chiefly to the representation of actors. The other was
the school of Harunobu, whose gracious designs of women were the most
novel productions of the period. A third school was founded by Toyoharu
and a fourth by Shigemasa; but the real importance of these two schools
developed only in a later epoch. During this period the great Torii
School may be said to have remained dormant; it was to awaken in the
Third Period to a new splendour in Kiyonaga.

There is a passage from a contemporary record that throws light on the
temper of the people and the artists at this time. I have freely
translated it, with the courteous permission of Dr. Julius Kurth
(Kurth's "Harunobu," R. Piper & Co., Munich), from his German rendering
of a unique manuscript book in his possession, which appears to have
been written by the poet Yukura Sanjin, and illustrated by Harunobu in
1769. The book is a whimsical, devil-may-care production of the lightest
sort; but from its pages the glitter and surge and laughter of Yedo
holiday life rise with a far-away yet curiously distinct echo.


    "Dohei hails from Oshu. Upon his head he wears a cap; and his mouth
    sends up a song when in the Capital of the East he vends his
    honey-sweetmeats. His cape is of tiger-skin, and bears a suspicious
    resemblance to the loin-apron of the Devil. His umbrella is of
    scarlet crêpe, and recalls the plumed spears of the festival-guards.
    As his coat of arms he chose a Devil's head and a skeleton; upon his
    outer robe he wrote the sign, 'Dohei, Dohei.' While you buy his
    honey-sweetmeats, he sings a song of a new style, and ends it with
    the refrain, 'Dohei, Dohei!' Therefore the name of Dohei has become
    known everywhere. Even the smallest children all sing this song in
    chorus over and over a thousand times. If he sells his
    honey-sweetmeats in the Eastern part of the city, the people in the
    Western streets are furious; if he sells them in the Southern
    quarter, the people in the Northern streets are furious. For then
    they want to know why he came to them so late.

    "If on the three hundred and sixty days of the year one goes, day in
    and day out, through all the eight hundred and eight streets, one
    finds a tavern at every five paces; and it is as if this city had
    been changed into a pond of rice-wine. One cannot take ten steps
    without coming upon a shop in which whole mountains of rice-cakes
    and other confections are offered. If one hears in the distance an
    almost heavenly music, it is the song of a lady to the strum of a
    guitar. If there is a rattling like peals of thunder, it is the
    ox-carts on the side streets. People with coiffures shaped like the
    leaf of the ginko-tree roll up their outer robes and jostle shoulder
    to shoulder. Ladies with girdles of spun gold and long-sleeved
    girlish dresses sway their hips; and their garments, coloured like
    the graining of wood, flow as do torrents of Spring. Their hats of
    green paper resemble a clump of trees in Summer. And as they wander
    along, the hems of their robes flutter open, and the blood-red silk
    linings gleam like maple foliage--though it is not yet Autumn! The
    festive white material of their inner robes shines like snow--though
    it is not yet Winter! If it were, they would be muffled to their
    very noses with crêpe veils. They have arranged their hair as if
    surmounted by a cap, like tiers of little chrysanthemums. At their
    thighs sparkle tobacco-wallets ornamented with silver and gold.

    "The black-and-white prints of earlier days are antiquated now, and
    the only thing people care for is the newly-devised gorgeousness of
    the Eastern Brocade Pictures. Musical plays are no longer to be
    seen; instead, you go to the music-girls and the dancing-girls in
    the taverns. The young people want lively entertainment, and visit
    the wine-shops. Out of a vase in which, according to the ancient
    custom, flowers were formerly placed, lots are now drawn to fix
    upon the day for a party; while according to the fashionable
    arrangement of flowers in the hanging jars, the flowers look like
    arrows from a bow. The vendors of fritters call out, 'Celebrated
    Pasties! Celebrated Pasties!' and boast upon the brilliant paper
    signs of the just-opened booths, 'Headquarters! Headquarters!'
    Handkerchiefs at four coppers apiece hang at the loins of the
    servants of Samurais. The song of the New Year's dancers rings out
    among people who hitherto had sung only folk-songs. The caligraphist
    studies the Nagao style; the poet learns by heart the poems of the
    Chinese epoch, and the minstrel the style of the Manyo anthology. To
    obtain new remedies for his stock the doctor draws upon the old
    school for all kinds of herbs, and cures eyes and noses with
    them--just as pumpkins are perfected into melons. Often the priest
    of Buddha wanders, an object of derision, through the streets in the
    darkness of night in search of a girl. To be sure, he is a very
    learned man; but what leads more easily to dangerous labyrinths than

    "The theatres in the Sakai Street give performances continuously.
    The reconstruction of the Yoshiwara is to be finished in a few days,
    and people come and go there only to drink and to sing. They draw
    water from the floods of the Sumida River, but it will not be
    drained dry! They view again and again the flowers of the Asuka
    River, but these also are without end! The Shenshuraku Theatre
    enlivens the public, and upon the Banzairaku stage man's life is
    idealized. So all are happy--like green firs that become thicker
    and thicker and put forth new needles."

Into this crowded world of exuberant life came Harunobu and his
contemporaries--into this underworld, if you will, but an underworld
more beautiful and sun-drenched than any known to our great Western
cities. Instead of the bar in the slum they had the tea-house on the
river-bank; instead of the prize-fight they had the cherry festival; for
them, vice put on robes of a certain stately beauty; their stage was
marked by the same ennobling absence of realism that distinguished the
stage of the Greeks. The holiday spirit of the hour seems more
spontaneous than ours; their hearts seem less troubled by spiritual
confusions. And manifestly their underworld knew beauty and brought
forth an art that is now a universal human treasure; while our
underworld has been, with the rarest of exceptions, wholly sterile.

One of the most important of the underworld institutions which the
prints of this period depict is the theatre. Though Harunobu turned
aside from it, his great contemporary Shunsho and the whole body of
Shunsho's followers found most of their material there.

The popular theatre had sprung into importance in the days of Moronobu.
Previous to that time, the classic lyric drama of the aristocracy,
called the Nō, had flourished in the secluded palaces of great nobles;
but the mob was obliged to divert itself with nothing more interesting
than jugglers and street performers. Therefore when the theatre first
came into being, in the river-bed of Kyoto, it achieved great
popularity; and when later it was transferred to Yedo, it rose during
the Genroku Period (1688-1703) to a position of passionate favour. It
appears never to have had a very savoury moral odour; and before long it
became associated with so much corruptness that it presented a serious
problem for the Tokugawa rulers. In 1643, as a corrective measure, they
had decreed the exclusion of female actors from the stage. From this
time on, only men trod the Japanese boards; the female rôles were taken
by male actors whose skill in this impersonation is said to have been

The status of a great actor in the hearts of the people was not very
different from that of a successful prize-fighter among us to-day. He
was a popular idol; his movements were the subject of the eager
curiosity of the gaping multitude; but his social rank was of the
lowest. The prints of a later date show us pictures of actors with their
gay companions on boating-parties or tea-house picnics, surrounded by
inquisitive throngs of spectators. Famous and greatly sought after as
these actors were, they occupied positions of even less esteem than the
English players in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Nothing so well
illustrates their ostracism from any kind of society as the words used
by one of the greatest of actor-painters, Shunsho, in the preface to a
book of drawings representing actors: "To be sure, I love the theatre,
and greatly enjoy being a spectator, _but I have no connection with the
actors themselves, and do not know them in private life_." Even
Shunsho, who had created the heroic designs of these men in their great
rôles, dared not acknowledge himself as their familiar.

When they appeared on the stage, the faces of the actors were frequently
painted with startling streaks of red and white, an effect reproduced in
some of the prints. The elaborate robes worn when they represented
heroic figures of bygone ages formed superb material for the designs of
the artists. The Japanese stage of to-day probably does not differ very
much from what it was in Shunsho's time; and we still see on it that
florid elaboration of gesture, bombastic delivery, and intensification
of facial expression which the prints have perpetuated.

The actors were divided into clans or schools; the name of a famous head
of a clan would be handed down for generations from master to pupil.
Thus there were many of the name of Danjuro, Hanshiro, and Kikunojo in
succession, who were not related to each other by blood. Certain clans
such as the Kikunojo specialized exclusively in women's rôles. Each clan
had its _mon_ or crest, worn on the sleeve, and each actor had a
personal _mon_; in the prints these generally appear. In Plate 20, for
example, the circle with eight crossed arrow-buts indicates the _mon_ of
Nakamura Matsuye; in other prints, the three great concentric squares of
Danjuro, the trisected concentric circles of Hanshiro, or the iris
within a circle of Kikunojo (Plate 9), are easily identified.

In the hands of Shunsho and his followers the figures of these actors
were used as the material for brilliant designs. For the moment,
however, we must return to the foremost artist of this period--one who
never loved the actors--Harunobu.


_Figure of a Girl._

      Ye winds that somewhere in the West--
    In gulfs of sunset, isles of rest--
    Rise dewy from prenatal sleep
    To strew with little waves the deep--
    Surely it is your breath that stirs
    These fluttering gauzy robes of hers!

      Come whence ye may, I marvel not
    That ye are lured to seek this spot;
    Your tenuous scarcely breathèd powers
    Sway not the sturdier garden flowers,
    And had unmanifest gone by
    Save that she feels them visibly.

      O little winds, her little hands
    In time with tunes from fairy-lands
    Are moving; and her bended head
    Knows nothing of the long years sped
    Since heaven more near to earth was hung,
    And gods lived, and the world was young.

      Her inner robe of tenderest fawn
    In cool, faint fountains of the dawn
    Was dyed; and her long outer dress
    Borrows its luminous loveliness
    From some clear bowl with water filled
    In which one drop of wine was spilled.

      Peace folds her in its deeps profound;
    Her shy glance lifts not from the ground;
    And through this garden's still retreat
    She moves with tripping silver feet
    Whose trancèd grace, where'er she strays,
    Turns all the days to holy days.

      Come! let us softly steal away.
    For what can we, whose hearts are grey,
    Bring to her dreaming paradise?
    A chill shall mock her from our eyes;
    A cloud shall dim this radiant air:
    Come! for our world is otherwhere.

      But O ye little winds that blow
    From golden islands long ago
    Lost to our searching in the deep
    Of dreams between the shores of sleep--
    Ye shall her happy playmates be,
    Fluttering her robes invisibly.


Polychrome, from eight blocks. Size 11 × 8. Signed _Susuki Harunobu ga_.
Gookin Collection.

_Plate 11._]

[Illustration: SUSUKI HARUNOBU.]

The few available fragments of information about the life of Susuki
Harunobu can be briefly stated. Born between 1725 and 1730, he lived in
Yedo all his life in a house near the river. In 1764 he perfected a new
and epoch-making treatment of colour-print technique, and died in 1770,
not much more than forty years of age. We may, where so little is known,
willingly follow Dr. Kurth in his ingenious tracing of a romantic link
between Harunobu and the hamlet of Kasamori, whose pine-trees, red
temple-torii, and beautiful tea-house waitress O-Sen haunt his work
recurrently; but we must be content to regard this as at least half
fancy. Harunobu's direct teacher was Shigenaga, and he was influenced
early by Toyonobu; but it was to Sukenobu and Kiyomitsu that he turned
for the inspiration of those characteristic figures which he created
during the six great years of his real activity.

Harunobu's work before the year 1764 is relatively unimportant. It
consists of prints of actors and legendary subjects, printed in two or
three colours; a few of his _hoso-ye_ prints of this period have
charming delicacy of line and colour, and at least one of his actor
pillar-prints is a work of notable dignity; but upon the whole his work
is not very individual. Any one of a dozen of Shigenaga's pupils might
have done almost as well. Before 1764 these men were all his equals;
after 1764 he took a step which few could keep pace with and which none
could outstrip.

In 1764 he brought forth that synthesis of the resources of his art
which was to shake the Ukioye world. Whether he was the actual inventor
of polychrome printing is not certain; some authorities attribute the
invention to an engraver named Kinroku; but it is very clear that
Harunobu was the first to seize upon and realize the possibilities of
the discovery. Some technical hindrance, such as the difficulty of
securing perfect register from many blocks on the wet stretching sheets,
had prevented the earlier completion of the process; and it is possible
that it was a printer who discovered the simple device needed to
overcome the difficulty. This, however, is a matter of mere mechanics
and has no bearing upon the question of the real glory of Harunobu. What
is important is that he seized the new technique and made out of it an
instrument responsive to every subtlest breath of his beauty-haunted


Polychrome. Size 11 × 7½. Signed _Harunobu ga_. Chandler Collection.

_Plate 12._]

The old three-colour prints had achieved fine effects by means of
powerfully conceived but essentially simple mosaics of colour. Now
Harunobu turned the three-stringed lute into the violin, capable of
expressing the most delicate modulations of tone. Beginning with
combinations of only four or five colours, he gradually increased the
number of blocks used. It is certain that he used eight blocks on at
least one 1765 calendar print. In the end he had at his command a
palette which, by the use of no less than twelve or fifteen blocks, and
with the limitless number of shades obtainable by superimposing one
colour upon another, made the whole rainbow his. Constant experiment
marked his further progress. We have, for example, one print which he
originally printed from eight blocks, and later varied by increasing the
blocks to ten, and still later to thirteen. From year to year an ever
fresh succession of complex colour-harmonies emanated from his fertile

Until the invention of polychrome printing, Harunobu had not adequately
expressed himself; now, having found his true instrument, he played
divinely. The year 1765 was a Jubilee year, celebrating the
nine-hundredth anniversary of the entrance of Sugawara Michigane, the
great statesman, painter, and humanist, to the Court of the Emperor.
This circumstance, in connection with the desire of literary men to
present to their friends specimens of the new prints as New Year cards,
led Harunobu to produce a number of dated calendar-prints of this
year--a fortunate occurrence which has been of great aid to students of
his work. The theory that these dated prints are the expression of
Harunobu's naïve exultation over the new discovery is now generally
discredited. Since the calendars are dated 1765, Mr. Gookin's suggestion
that they were probably made in the last months of 1764 seems
reasonable; and this date must therefore be regarded as marking the
beginning of polychrome printing.

The brilliant new prints fittingly ushered in the festal year. And the
public was not too busy with its celebrations to take note of the
change. The new manner with its wealth of colour-beauty won instant
popularity; and under the name of "Brocade Pictures of the Eastern
Capital" grew to such fame that by 1767 prints in the old style were
almost driven out of the market, and Harunobu was unquestioned lord of

It is not strange that in the glow of success and ambition he should
have put behind him his old actor-pictures. "I am a Japanese painter,"
he wrote proudly; "why should I paint the portraits of this vulgar
herd?" And at this moment feeling himself akin to the great classical
tradition whose refined beauties had been handed down from ancient China
mingled with the beauties of poets and sages, he determined that he
would lift from the Ukioye School the stigma of vulgarity which the
theatre had given it, and invest it with some of that gentle cultivation
which fills like light the old Chinese paintings of Ming gardens.
Therefore he turned his energies to the depiction of another world than
the theatre--the life of aristocratic ladies, of young lovers, of
those famed beauties who in humbler station were the flowers and
sunshine of the tea-house and the festival. Plate 14 portrays one of
these. His method of handling the figures--a peculiar mingling of
naïveté and sophistication, like that of a minstrel singing incredible
enchanted legends with complete seriousness--was a new and
never-recovered note in the history of Ukioye.


Size 11 × 8. Signed _Harunobu ga_. Chandler Collection.

_Plate 13._]

From this time on, during six years, Harunobu produced a series of
prints whose grace is unsurpassable. The firm and refined strokes of his
brush endowed with a fresh charm all that was lovely in the flowing
draperies and serene faces of the young girls of Japan. He was the
painter of youth. The type which he introduced was the slender and
gracious embodiment of youthful girlhood. And an indescribable delicacy
and purity of manner clothes as with clear light these girl-figures of
his. His draperies, as in Plate 11, are never drawn naturalistically,
but always with a certain conventionalization that produces folds and
swirls more abstractly beautiful than a literal rendering. He for the
first time in colour-printing made a practice of giving to his figures a
background that exhibited fully the scene of their daily lives. Instead
of the heroic figures of the Primitives, stalking through space in
colossal grandeur, he drew the familiar forms of everyday existence
nestling among their natural surroundings. The world he pictures is,
however, one of mortals who hardly know the burdens of mortality. Like
the women of Botticelli, they seem to poise in an atmosphere of more
rarefied loveliness than anything we know in reality. Rich as may have
been the beauty of the tea-house girl, O-Sen, whom Harunobu loved and
painted, and of the little seller of cosmetics, O-Fuji, who appears many
times in his pictures, they were but the starting-point, the exciting
agency, from which Harunobu passed on into a secret fanciful world of
his own to evoke his dream-maidens. Half of the charm of these figures,
such as the one in Plate 12, lies in this unreal and unhuman impression
they make; they are not Japanese women or any women, but living
fairy-tales, butterfly creatures out of nowhere. All that is joyous and
playful in the Japanese spirit lifts them on wings of fantasy into
regions of universal delight. They are the most fragrant flowers of
Japanese art.

It follows that Harunobu's subjects are almost always light and trivial
scenes--a girl playing with a cat, a young man and a maiden walking
amiably together, young girls engaged in some delicate occupation, or,
as in Plate 13, pausing in pensive reverie. A gentle joy pervades most
of them, or at least a gravity so light that it is nearer joy than
melancholy. Harunobu does not handle these scenes with any especial
insight into life; they are not windows through which we may look and
see the human souls of the people he portrays. They are nothing more
than gay, pleasing moments--records of fortunate hours--froth and foam
over the real deeps of life.


Size 11 × 8. Signed _Harunobu ga_.

_Plate 14._]

Yet as the spectator allows the pure and delicate atmosphere of one of
these creations to enter his spirit, he gradually becomes aware that not
this trivial scene, not this light episode, was Harunobu's real
theme; his real theme was the great harmonics of colour and line. Out of
colour and line his immeasurable genius evoked lofty improvisations. He
dedicated the fervour of his passion and his vision to the creation of
these orchestrations of tone, these modulated arabesques of contour.
Beyond his cheerful groups, beyond his felicitous arrangements, lies the
history of his prodigious essay to impose his sense of beauty upon one
section of chaos. Kurth is quite right when he calls him "the great
virtuoso of colour."

Most of Harunobu's prints are of small size, almost square. In this form
his refinement found its most perfect expression. If we would see an
aspect of Harunobu that is of more impressive proportions, and realize
that scope as well as daintiness was in him, we must turn to certain
rare pillar-prints which were done chiefly in the years immediately
preceding his untimely death. Here dignity combines with grace, and an
exalted sweep of composition adds nobility to that exquisite colour
which here no less than in his small prints finds place. Two of these
pillar-prints, reproduced in Plate 15, may serve to illustrate this last
phase of Harunobu's greatest triumph.

The first print is a soft grey and lavender study of a girl. Within the
long, narrow space, against a background of cool unbroken grey, rises
the figure, whose bent, pensive head looks down at the ball she is
dangling before a cat at her feet. Her hair, a mass of strong black
against the clear grey background, is drawn in a conventionalized manner
that is perhaps the noblest formula ever devised for the painting of
hair--as pure of line as a Greek helmet. Drooping from her slender
shoulders fall robes whose slow curves seem moulded by the touch of
faint and gentle airs that breathe around her. The long drapery is
interwoven with hints of mauve melting into rose--more like ghosts of
the palette than colours--and touches of translucent salmon and amber
and grey are repeated like an arabesque of lights down the folds. The
folds sweep in great restful curves like those of vines hanging in
festoons from summer branches. At the girl's girdle a strong note of
dull green strikes like a bass chord across the composition; and smaller
spots of the same colour carry this motive diminishingly down to the
bottom of the picture.

It is a sentiment, an emotion, a dream--as much an abstraction as a
musical composition. In the lines of the dress, in the poise of the
head, in the limpid tones of the whole picture, is secreted the
dwelling-place of a peace, a solemnity, an awe never to be forgotten. It
is reminiscent of the grandeur of the Primitives, but more etherialized;
and there lingers about it still, persisting from earlier times, the
penumbra of that hierarchal purity and spirituality peculiar to archaic
art. Like those strange and memorable archaic statues of the Priestesses
in the Museum of the Akropolis at Athens, like the frescoes of Giotto at
Assisi, it holds the secret of an untainted beauty that is lost to later


Size 27 × 4½. Signed _Susuki Harunobu ga_.


Size 26 × 4½. Signed _Susuki Harunobu ga_.

_Plate 15._]

The second pillar-print is one which, following the opinion of Professor
Fenollosa and Mr. Gookin, may be regarded as one of the supreme triumphs
of Harunobu's career, and one of the greatest prints we know. It
represents Shirai Gompachi, the white-robed lover of the beautiful
Komurasaki, wandering in disguise with the basket-hat and flute of a
_komuso_ or dishonoured Samurai. There is no background; against the
clear white paper the long lines of the tall figure flow in curves of
jet black and purple-grey, with here and there lights of orange and
white. By a simplicity of selection that is more than Greek, Harunobu
has woven from these few curves an effect that is like an incantation.
It has in it the power to reach into the secret storehouses of the
spectator's emotion and awaken echoes from those intimations of eternal
perfection which haunt every heart. Fenollosa writes: "There is
something unearthly about its line themes, orchestrated in black and
ghost-tints, which lifts one to the infinities of Beethoven's purest
melodies. The dreamy clarinet-player seems to droop and melt away into
regions of sublimity where no earthly ear shall follow his dying chords.
Thus indeed we are glad at last to have Harunobu pass, transfigured,
from our vision."

_Pillar Print by Harunobu._

        From an infinite distance, the ghostly music!
    Few and slender the tones, of delicate silver,
    As stars are broidered on the veil of evening....

      He passes by, the flute and the dreaming player--
    Slow are his steps, his eyes are gravely downcast;
    His pale robes sway in long folds with his passing.

        Out of the infinite distance, a ghostly music
    Returns--in slender tones of delicate silver,
    As stars are broidered on the veil of evening.

Certain puzzles for the collector and student arise in connection with

This is the first knotty point. Shiba Kokan, a contemporary artist who
outlived Harunobu by forty-eight years, is obscurely connected with
Harunobu's work. "Look out when you buy Harunobu prints!" he writes in
his memoirs, published long after his death. "A great portion of the
most popular ones are skilfully forged, and the forger was I, Shiba
Kokan!" This warning holds good to-day, and in many cases no one can say
with confidence whether certain sheets are by Shiba Kokan or Harunobu.
Kokan claims, in particular, to have been the author of those with
transparent draperies, those done in the Chinese manner, and those in
which snow on bamboos is rendered by embossing without outline blocks.
All these and other characteristic beauties of Harunobu's work he would
annex, and it is doubtful if we shall ever know whether he is the
greatest liar or the greatest forger in history. Probably his statements
must be regarded as partly true. Until we know, however, every print
signed Harunobu is suspect; for if Shiba Kokan could deceive the public
of that day, we shall not be likely to detect his forgeries. There is
only one consolation for the collector: if the prints of Shiba Kokan,
signed Harunobu, are as beautiful as those of Harunobu, then not the
collector is the sufferer, but only the unfortunate person who tries to
write an accurate account of this hopeless entanglement.

Other forgers, contemporaneous or slightly later, probably took
advantage of Harunobu's popularity: coarse reprints from recut blocks
turn up frequently in the market; and, worst of all, very fine modern
forgeries and imitations of his work abound. These last two classes are
the only ones that need cause the collector anxiety; they should of
course be guarded against with the utmost care, for they are quite
worthless. Their impure and muddy colours generally betray them to the
practised eye. No means of detecting them is safe for the inexperienced
amateur except a minute comparison with an unquestioned original
impression of the same print. On the other hand, the contemporaneous
forgeries, if beautiful, are no inconsiderable treasures.

[Illustration: KYOSEN.]

The name Kyosen furnishes another puzzle. It is signed to prints
unmistakably by Harunobu, to prints unmistakably not by him, and to
prints which he also signs. The solution seems to be that Kyosen is
simply the name of the printer or engraver who did work for Harunobu and
for other designers. Kyosen himself sometimes designed prints, but in
such cases he signed distinctly as artist. The signature Kyosen does
not, therefore, indicate a separate artist, and its presence on
Harunobu's prints need not cause doubts as to Harunobu's authorship.
Senga, a printer, and Takahashi Gyokushi and Takahashi Rosen, engravers,
also signed certain of Harunobu's prints.

A further difficulty arises in the relation of Harunobu to Koriusai, an
artist whom we shall soon treat by himself. At times his work comes so
close to Harunobu's style that earlier authorities believed his name to
be merely a later signature of Harunobu. This position is now entirely
discredited, and it is agreed that Koriusai was a distinct person, a
friend and successor of Harunobu. But it is not so sure that Koriusai
may not have signed certain of his own designs with Harunobu's name
after Harunobu's death; the striking resemblances of some such sheets to
Koriusai's work makes one unwilling to regard the relation between the
two as settled. In the case of certain unsigned prints, it is impossible
to determine with assurance which of the two was the creator. As a rule,
however, the colour-schemes of the two are totally different, Koriusai
running characteristically to schemes in which blue and orange are
dominant. Dr. Kurth seems to think it barely possible that prints signed
"Koriu" may be by Harunobu; but this theory is untenable, both because
the internal evidence of the prints is against it, several of Koriusai's
most characteristic prints being thus signed, and because of the
difficulty of believing that Harunobu, the greatest of living Ukioye
artists, should at the height of his fame have signed to his work the
name of a younger and less noted contemporary.

Those prints in the Harunobu manner which are unsigned and unsealed also
offer perplexities, since we must look entirely to internal evidence to
discover whether they are by Harunobu.

Harunobu's work is among the most highly prized in the whole list. The
great collections have many of his prints, but in the market one finds
the fine ones to be limited in number. In his case, even more than in
the case of other artists, perfect condition is a vital requirement.
For, in the process of fading, his prints lose that delicate
colour-orchestration which is their supreme glory. The same changes in
tone that would hardly detract from the beauty of a fine Kiyomitsu might
easily rob a fine Harunobu of most of its significance. If one has once
seen the copies in such collections as that of Mr. Frederick W. Gookin,
of Chicago, Mr. Charles H. Chandler, of Evanston, Messrs. William S.
Spaulding and John T. Spaulding, of Boston, or Mr. Howard Mansfield of
New York, one loses all interest in the battered riff-raff of the
dealers' counters.


_Koriusai speaks._

      Let whoso will take sheets as wide
    As some great wrestler's mountain-back
      Space cannot hide
        His lack.

      Take thou the panel, being strong.
    'Tis as a girl's arm fashioned right--
      As slender and divinely long
        And white.

      That tall and narrow icy space
    Gives scope for all the brush beseems.
      And who shall ask a wider place
        For dreams?

      It is an isle amid the tide--
    A chink wherethrough shines one lone star--
      A cell where calms of heaven hide

      One chosen curve of beauty wooed
    From out the harsh chaotic world
      Shall there in solitude
        Be furled.

      The narrow door shall be so strait
    Life cannot vex, with troubled din,
      Beauty, beyond that secret gate
        Shut in.

      Lo! I will draw two lovers there,
    Alone amid their April hours,
      With lines as drooping and as fair
        As flowers.

      I will make Spring to circle them
    Like a faint aureole of delight.
      Their luminous youth and joy shall stem
        The night.

      And men shall say: Behold! he chose,
    From Time's wild welter round him strown,
      This hour; and paid for its repose
        His own.

Koriusai's life is shrouded in those mists prevalent in the cases of
most Ukioye artists. It is known that he was a Samurai, or feudal
retainer of knightly rank; upon the death of his master, Tsuchiya, he
became, as was the custom, a ronin--that is, a retainer without a
lord--and established himself near the picturesque Ryogoku Bridge in
Yedo as a painter. He originally used the name Haruhiro. Shigenaga was
his first teacher, Harunobu his second; his work can safely be dated
between 1770 and 1781. By the end of this period Kiyonaga was beginning
to advance achievements that eclipsed Koriusai's. As Fenollosa points
out, it was Koriusai's misfortune to collide with Harunobu at the
beginning and with Kiyonaga at the end of his career; could we
obliterate those two, we might think of Koriusai as "the most beautiful
Ukioye designer."


Size 28 × 4½. Signed _Koriu ga_.


Size 27 × 4½. Signed _Koriusai ga_.

_Plate 16._]

Koriusai was already working in Harunobu's manner at the time of the
master's death; and afterward he continued Harunobu's experiments. His
characteristic device in colour is the predominance of a strong orange
pigment, based on lead, which when originally applied had the utmost
brilliance, but which now is frequently changed by chemical
decomposition into a rich mottled black. Combining this orange with a
blue of his own devising, he obtained novel and striking effects.

[Illustration: KORIUSAI.]

Koriusai's small prints have often a beauty almost equal to Harunobu's,
but they lack individuality of invention. They never surpass the
triumphs of the older master in this form. Koriusai seldom can catch
Harunobu's perfect grace and repose, his luminous atmosphere and subtle
colour. But in his large sheets he produced a few compositions whose
elaborate magnificence is a new and individual achievement. The styles
in hair-dressing which came into vogue at this time were no small
element in enabling him to create his stately figures; the wide lines of
the coiffure, more solid and massive than in Harunobu's day, lent itself
admirably to strong decorative treatment. In a series of large sheets
called "Designs of Spring Greenery," each picture representing an Oiran
and her two or more young attendants, some of the prints are disfigured
by the heaviness of the faces; but others, from which this exaggeration
is absent, are of almost unparalleled splendour in colour, even though
somewhat monotonous in their repetitions. One of this type, in the Morse
Collection, Evanston (described at No. 155 of Fenollosa's Ketcham
Catalogue) is surely one of the greatest prints in the world. Some of
Koriusai's designs of birds and other animals, occasionally printed with
mica backgrounds, are admirable compositions.

But Koriusai's distinctive glory lies in the sphere of pillar-prints, of
which five are reproduced in Plates 16, 17, and 18. This form of
composition is one of the most interesting and exacting to be found in
the art of any race; the tall sheet, generally about 28 inches high and
only 5 inches wide, furnishes a mere ribbon of space that taxes all the
resources of a designer. It is like a Greek frieze placed on end; but
whereas the frieze gives space for a multitude of processional figures,
and is essentially a stage for the depiction of a social pageant, this
slim panel demands the exclusion of all but a few significant lines. In
this particular it is the finest of art-forms. It exacts the
quintessence of selection--one narrow glimpse of some cross-section of
life. Its limitations are like those of the lyric, requiring a
concentrated and finely chosen vision.

[Illustration: KORIUSAI: TWO LADIES.

Size 29 × 5. Signed _Koriu ga_.


Size 26 × 5. Signed _Koriusai ga_.

_Plate 17._]

The shape was first devised by Okumura Masanobu as a modification of the
wider and shorter sheets commonly used by the Primitives for their large
pictures. As is often the case in the evolution of a fine art-form,
it was not Masanobu's mere whim, but structural exigencies, that
prompted the invention, the need being to provide long narrow pictures
that could be hung upon the square wooden pillar of the Japanese house.
Kiyomitsu and Toyonobu used this shape admirably; and the final and most
perfect form for its dimensions was fixed and brought into general use
by Harunobu. It became a favourite shape among the greatest of the later
artists; and no small number of their supreme achievements are in this
form. To the modern European eye, no other seems so distinctively
characteristic of the special Japanese genius.

Pillar-prints are almost invariably works of the first
importance--_pièces de résistance_, deliberate and studied productions,
representing the best effort and highest powers of the artist. For they
were intended to be mounted and rolled, like _kakemono_; and the artist
could therefore foresee for them a degree of attention that he could
hardly expect in the case of the loose square sheets. The peculiar shape
is in itself so interesting and beautiful, and so ringing a challenge to
the powers of the designer, that in many cases the best work of the
artist is to be found only in this form.

Pillar-prints are to-day far rarer than prints of the square variety.
They were probably produced in editions of smaller numbers than the
square prints; and, further, the use to which they were put as hanging
pictures exposed them to hazardous vicissitudes and generally resulted
in eventual destruction.

Koriusai's variations on the limited themes whose treatment is possible
in this narrow space display daring, originality, and power of
concentrated selection. He is the supreme master of the pillar-print; no
one else has produced so many fine ones, and practically all his finest
work is in this form. The infinite variety of his designs and the
fertility of his invention make a series of his pillar-prints one of the
most absorbing features of a fine collection. In one print (Plate 17),
he dashes the intense black line of a screen down through the middle of
his picture and sets the delicate eddies of a child's and a young girl's
garments playing around its base. In a second (Plate 18), a girl in
robes of gorgeous colour stands like a calm peacock, with glowing orange
combs alight in her hair; while in a third (Plate 16), the whole space
waves and sings with the forms of grasses, a flying cuckoo, and a maiden
carried in the arms of her lover through fields of spring. And in a
fourth (Plate 17), he draws the figures of two women, one behind and a
little above the other, the one in the background luminous with soft
neutral tints, the one in the foreground robed in a black whose
intensity cuts sharply through the otherwise monotonous sweetness of the
picture. To the grace of Harunobu, Koriusai has here added a vigour all
his own, and a richness surpassing that of his teacher.

To-day Koriusai's small prints are rather rare, as are also the birds
and the large-size sheets. His pillar-prints, which are his greatest
works, were produced in such numbers that, contrary to the rule that
applies to the pillar-prints of all other designers, a good many of
them have survived. It is still possible to secure examples that are
among the foremost of all print treasures.


Size 28½ × 5. Unsigned.


Size 27 × 4½. Signed _Koriusai ga_.

_Plate 18._]


SUSUKI HARUSHIGE is reported to have been the son and pupil of Harunobu.
The few prints of his that are known have a grace of line that might
well be a son's heritage, if such things were inheritable. The unholy
rascal Shiba Kokan alleges that this name was one which he himself used,
as well as Harunobu's; it is reported, on the other hand, that it is
merely Koriusai's early name. It is probable that Kokan's statement must
be believed.

[Illustration: HARUSHIGE.]

SHIBA KOKAN has already been mentioned as the forger of Harunobu's work.
His ability needs no further recommendation when we admit that we cannot
with certainty tell his prints from Harunobu's. This is his chief title
to fame. He was born in 1747 and died in 1818. During his life he signed
many names to his work and attempted many manners. From the Dutch at
Nagasaki he learned something of the rules of European perspective, and
tried, in the eighties, with success but without much beauty, to carry
them over into Japanese art. In addition, he introduced shadows into
some of his compositions--a device alien to the whole spirit of Chinese
and Japanese painting. He was the first Japanese artist to attempt
copper-plate engraving. Queer renderings of European scenes by him
remain to us. In a hundred different spheres of art, invention, and
speculation he tried his hand. His intellectual curiosity in every field
reminds one of Leonardo da Vinci. He remains one of the most interesting
and puzzling figures of his time--an adventurer, a restless
experimenter, a forger and a man of extraordinary though chaotic genius.

A poem written when he was dying has a curious vibrancy: "Kokan now
dies, for he is very old; to the passing world he leaves a picture of
the world that passes."

KOMAI YOSHINOBU did work in the style of Harunobu during the seventies.
He furnishes another example of the obscurity that covers so much of
Japanese print history; for it is not known whether he was an
independent artist, or identical with Yamamoto Yoshinobu, who produced
two-colour prints in the fifties, or worse yet, an early signature of
Koriusai. The first theory is the most probable. His work is rare,
beautiful in colour, and well worthy of further research.

[Illustration: MASUNOBU.]

MASUNOBU, the second of that name, whose work, in clear, delicate colour
and charming arrangement, generally follows Harunobu's closely, is also
not definitely located. He appears to have been originally a pupil of
Shigenobu and Shigenaga. Most writers erroneously regard him as the same
man who, under the name of Sanseido Tanaka Masunobu, produced
two-colour prints in the forties, and hand coloured prints still

One of the Second Masunobu's pillar-prints, representing a girl with an
open umbrella jumping from a balcony to meet a waiting lover, has a
unique and most charming individuality of poise and colouring. His
pillar-prints, of which about ten are known, are particularly fine.

RYUSHI, KISEN, and SUIYO are rare men who worked contemporaneously with
Harunobu. The Hayashi Catalogue also names SHOHA, SOAN, SOGIKU, KOGAN
and SEIKO.

KUNINOBU is an artist of extreme rarity, whose few surviving prints show
distinction of line, based on the Harunobu manner. His work, done about
1775, stands out from the work of Harunobu's horde of followers; he was
evidently a noteworthy artist, of whom one wishes we knew more.

FUJINOBU worked in the manner of Harunobu in the early seventies. His
output was small, and little of his work survives. It may be that he was
the same individual as Yamamoto Fujinobu, who has already been mentioned
as Shigenaga's pupil.

KOMATSUKEN is a name signed to certain calendar-prints for the year
1765. The style is greatly like Harunobu's. His name may also be read
_Shoshoken_. Mr. Gookin thinks him to be identical with Fusanobu, who
has been previously mentioned.

HARUTSUGU and SUSUKI HARUJI, said by some to be the same person,
produced a few pleasing prints about 1770.


_Portrait of an Actor in Tragic Rôle._

      His soul is a sword;
    His sword with the spirit's breath
    Is bathed of its terrible lord,
    In whose eyes is death.

      And the massive control,
    And the lighted implacable eye
    Leash a fierce and exalted soul
    Of dark destiny.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      With the strength of the hills--
    Kiso's iron mountains of snow--
    He waits: time brings and fulfills
    The hour for the blow.

      He waits; and the white
    Full robes round his shoulders sway,
    With woof of pale orange alight,
    Pale green, pale grey.

      Like a falcon, flown
    To bleak mid-regions of sky,
    He poises. One image alone
    Holds his sinister eye--

      A vision, a prey
    Towards which he shall soon be hurled--
    And his fury shall darken the day,
    And his joy, the world.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      A music enfolds him
    Like the thunders that are poured
    Across heaven; it holds him
    With the song of the sword.

      It enthrals, it inspires,
    And its zenith shall be
    Lightning of unleashed desires
    Crashing along the sea.


Size 12 × 6. Signed _Shunsho ga_.

_Plate 19._]

Those actor-types which Harunobu and his school so scornfully cast aside
became the chosen speciality of the greatest of his rivals and
contemporaries, Katsukawa Shunsho. As one examines sheet after sheet of
Shunsho's theatrical prints, Harunobu's contemptuous words concerning
"this vulgar herd," the actors, lose their significance; for here pass
in gorgeous procession a series of lofty, intense, and unforgettable
figures charged with the quintessence of heroic force.

[Illustration: KATSUKAWA SHUNSHO.]

The designer of these prints was born in 1726 and died about 1792--some
authorities say 1790. His period of greatest activity covered the years
1765 to 1780, thus including the working periods of both Harunobu and
Koriusai, and ending as Koriusai's did when in the eighties Kiyonaga's
star rose blindingly. He lived for a while at the house of his
publisher, Hayashi; sometimes in his early work he used in place of a
signature a seal shaped like a small covered jar with handles, on which
Hayashi's name is inscribed. The legend is that he was too poor to own a
seal in the early days of his struggle and so borrowed that of his

Shunsho had no antecedent teachers among the print-designers. He sprang
instead from a school of painters who did not design for prints. These,
headed by Choshun and his son Katsukawa Shunsui, had since 1700 been
producing rich paintings of women in elaborate drapery. The Buckingham
Collection contains one print by Shunsui, but it is an almost unique
rarity. Shunsho, by a curious shift in the stream of art history, not
only took up prints, but even took up the department of prints least in
line with the tendencies of his own school, the department of
actor-representation, which was the speciality of Kiyomitsu and the old
Torii School, and which Harunobu's popular innovations had almost driven
out of fashion. To this work Shunsho brought the new technique of
Harunobu and great native individuality; and with the fresh armament of
full colour he defended magnificently the threatened stronghold of
actor-prints. His popularity became enormous. He grew quickly to the
stature of one of the great and far-reaching powers in Ukioye history.
Side by side with Harunobu, he in his separate field executed year by
year actor-portraits which by their vigour of line and brilliancy of
colour-combination take a place as high as that held by the works of his

No contrast could be more striking than that between them. The one is
all grace, the other all force; the one loves to linger in quiet
gardens, the other drags us up to the icy heights of tragic crisis.
Shunsho's sense of dramatic composition was keen; and, as we see in
Plate 19, his ferocious actor-faces peer out with a vivid menace, his
tense actor-limbs shake with a concentrated and imprisoned fury not the
less impressive because of its intentional exaggeration. They have not
Harunobu's unreality of perfect grace, but the utterly different
super-reality of magnified passion. In repose they are like statues; in
action they have the vigour of those natural forces--waves, river
currents, storms of thunder--which, as in the Shunsho print reproduced
on the cover of this volume,[Transcriber's Note: The edition used to
produce this etext did not include this print on the cover.] so often
form their backgrounds.


Size 11 × 5½. Unsigned.

_Plate 20._]

Shunsho's figures of women--or rather his figures of men acting the
parts of women, according to the invariable custom of the Japanese stage
at this time--are less violent, but often as tense. Two of these appear
in Plates 20 and 21. In long sweeping robes of brilliant dye they move
with the step of a Clytemnestra, or poise in strange attitudes of
arrested motion not unworthy of an Antigone. All his figures are
dynamic--the storehouses of volcanic forces whose existence he suggests
by restless line-conflicts.

Shunsho's predecessors in actor representation had never equalled the
intensity of these figures and faces. Shunsho tears the heart out of a
rôle and holds it up for us to see. He gives the passion of the actor
such expression as would have been impossible to Kiyonobu, twisting the
face into a distorted and grandiose mask beside which the faces of the
Primitives seem wooden and meaningless.

The spectator whose æsthetic sense embraces only a love of tranquillity
will find no beauty in these disturbing faces and forms--unless perhaps
the beauty of pure colour is enough to beguile him. It may well do this;
few things have power to bring a richer sense of æsthetic satisfaction
than a succession of fine Shunshos, in each one of which a new
colour-arrangement unfolds new harmonies.

Shunsho's work includes a very great number of actor-prints in the
narrow upright _hoso-ye_ form and a few large square prints. He also
issued a series of small illustrations for the "Ise Monogatari," an old
romantic chronicle which furnished many favourite subjects to the
artists. These are quiet in design and soft in colour; to them the eye
may turn for rest if wearied by the straining actors. In collaboration
with Shigemasa he produced a set of ten small prints representing
sericulture, which have considerable charm. In 1776 the same pair of
artists brought out a series of book-illustrations called "Mirror of the
Beauties of the Green Houses," representing groups of courtesans
occupied with the various activities of daily life--in the street, the
house, the garden, and the temple. This book has been called the most
beautiful ever produced in Japan; when one examines its chief rival,
"The Mirror of the Beautiful Women of the Yoshiwara," by Kitao Masanobu,
one need have no hesitancy in giving Shunsho's and Shigemasa's the first
place. This means, very probably, the first place among the illustrated
books of the world. Its pages, printed in rose, purple, brown, yellow,
and grey, are rich and delicate. Sheets from all these books are often
found mounted as separate prints. Shunsho's few known pillar-prints are
generally magnificent.


Size 12½ × 6. Signed _Shunsho ga_. Gookin Collection.

_Plate 21._]

Because of his enormous productiveness, Shunsho's work in _hoso-ye_ form
is common, frequently in fine condition. Most of the _hoso-ye_ prints
were originally issued in joined groups of three; the groups are
seldom found intact now. The grace of his women has made them more
generally popular than his impressive men, and they are consequently
harder to obtain. It must be noted that Shunsho's work is uneven, and
that the majority of the pieces offered are either tame and
uninteresting examples of pot-boiling or caricatures that lack the
intensity which lifts certain of the artist's most grotesque figures to
tragic heights. The matchless Shunsho collection of Mr. Frederick W.
Gookin is full of such prints as rarely come into the market to-day.
Occasionally the more distinguished ones are met with; and they are
treasures which the practised collector eagerly seizes. Fortunately
print dealers are not, as a rule, conscious of the greatness of the
difference, and they will frequently offer side by side a print that is
merely one of Shunsho's commonest pieces of hack-work and a print that
is one of the glories of the Ukioye School. On such occasions the
collector has the pleasure of profiting by his own discrimination.

Shunsho's large square prints and pillar-prints are of extreme rarity.


Connected by association with the school of Shunsho, yet lifted by his
originality to a place quite apart from it, is the artist Ippitsusai
Buncho. His master, a certain Ishikawa Kogen (or Yukimoto) of the
classical Kano School, seems to have meant little to him; from the
beginning of his production, about 1765, Shunsho's and Harunobu's
influence chiefly guided him. He and Shunsho jointly published in 1770
three volumes of actor-portraits enclosed in fans. Little is known of
his life except that he was originally a Samurai; he is said to have
turned from his original master to the Ukioye School and to have led a
life of dissipation until eventually his friends persuaded him to
abandon such things and procured for him the honorary title of Hokyo.
After this, we hear nothing of him. He died in 1796.

[Illustration: IPPITSUSAI BUNCHO.]

Buncho's work attracts the observer with a charm different from that of
any other Ukioye artist. A curious mannerism in his way of drawing faces
and a fascinating perverse grace in the attitudes of his figures mark
his prints. Practically all his work is in the _hoso-ye_ form. His
subjects are chiefly young male actors in the rôles of women. Harunobu's
influence, manifest in Plate 22, brought him grace but not sweetness.
There is an astringent quality in his work that prevents it from ever
being serene. His figures, whose line-work is the apotheosis of suavity
and studied refinement, are arched into slightly strained and tortured
attitudes; complex forces seem to dominate them like unseen winds;
consuming or delicate passions move obscurely through their limbs and
faces. Their heads poise at unnatural angles as if consciously turning
their indifferent eyes from the spectacle of common things toward a
secret and hypnotizing world of their own. These alien beings haunt one;
it seems as if they had some mystery to reveal, some disturbing wonder
to communicate could one but make them speak.


Size 12 × 5½. Signed _Ippitsusai Buncho ga_. Mansfield Collection.

_Plate 22._]

Part of Buncho's strangeness lies in the fact that he seeks for his
figures not a human but an abstract and geometrical grace. His famous
print, often reproduced, of the actor Segawa Kikunojo as a lady in white
carrying an orange umbrella beneath a willow-tree, is a study in the
harmonics of pure line; to this end every other element of
representation has been sacrificed. Line exists here not merely to bound
a form but for its own inherent beauty. Buncho is the greatest of all
masters of the geometry of lines and spaces; these have, as he arranges
them, the inevitability and clarity of a mathematical demonstration.

His use of colour is equally notable and strange. By employing tints
that are almost discords he produces arresting and fascinating effects.
His combinations of orange and slaty grey, or dull red and slaty blue
and pale yellow, or pink and purple, have an uncanny vibrancy that makes
them stand out in one's memory.

Buncho's strangeness has a further aspect. There is in him an intangible
spiritual abnormality. I am led to localize this in his portraits of the
actor Segawa Kikunojo, and to imagine a curious relation between the
two. Some of his portraits of this actor are the flower of his work. In
them appears a passionately rarefied beauty; they have an unusual pitch,
like the overstrained vibration of violin strings stirred by some heavy
blow. Segawa Kikunojo was the foremost woman-impersonator of his time.
His grace in such rôles is attested by prints from the hands of many
artists; but none rise to the unearthly beauty of Buncho's. Even if we
knew nothing of the life of the Japanese stage at this time, or of the
custom of actors like Segawa Kikunojo to dress and live like women when
off the stage, we might still be put on inquiry by the peculiar ethereal
quality of some of these portraits. For art whose initial impulse lies
in morbid regions often flies into regions of the most disembodied
spirituality for expression. Flowers of the morass frequently have a
pale delicacy that is alien to the flowers of the field.

It is, however, with a confession of fancifulness that I reconstruct the
following story to account for Buncho. He, a Samurai, was driven by keen
artistic sensibility to the study of painting under a classical master.
From this studio he was lured by the glitter and glamour of Ukioye into
the world of prints and actors, and sank into a slough of dissipation
above which gleamed the balefully beautiful star of Segawa Kikunojo.
Haunted by a perverse susceptibility, his tense-strung nerves vibrated
at that morbid touch into notes of such disembodied sweetness as the
world has scarcely known elsewhere; and at last he passed into
retirement and death, still the puppet of a disturbing illusion. He was
an unbalanced temperament, a dreamer of keen and attenuated beauty
that has nothing in common with the normal wholesome life of earth.

[Illustration: SHUNYEI: AN ACTOR.

Grey background. Size 14 × 9½. Signed _Shunyei ga_.

_Plate 23._]

His prints are exceedingly rare; many a good collection possesses not a
single fine specimen of his work. I had never seen or heard of a
pillar-print by him until very recently; but lately an interesting one
has been found in Japan.


[Illustration: SHUNYEI.]

Shunsho's vigorous style had many followers, among whom Shunyei is
commonly regarded as the most important. He was born in 1767, and lived
until 1819. His teacher Shunsho's manner dominated his work from his
earliest years, though some late sheets exist in which he followed
Kiyonaga. It is believed that originally he used the name Shunjo; fine
work is extant with that signature. He had many pupils, and was himself
an able painter; but his ordinary work is largely derivative. At times,
however, his _hoso-ye_ actor-prints achieve an effect of great power by
the use of large masses of colour. He had a certain sharpness of
observation--a certain knack of catching in his portraits the
peculiarities of his models, that produces an effect less dignified but
more vivid than Shunsho's. A sense of humour glimmers through his
rendering of some of these keenly drawn and intimately characterized
actor-faces. Unmistakable as may be the features of a Danjuro or a
Hanshiro drawn by Shunsho, one nevertheless feels that the personality
of the actor has been largely dominated by Shunsho's supreme interest in
the passion or terror of the rôle; and though he pictured the face of
the actor, the spirit which he sought was wholly the spirit of the part.
Shunyei, on the other hand, often managed to retain the idiosyncrasies
of the sitter and his peculiar spiritual flavour; and though his works
are not often as beautiful as Shunsho's, they are frequently more human.
On the whole, we may say that Shunsho created generalized types, Shunyei
reproduced observed individuals.

Shunyei produced, besides the actors in _hoso-ye_ form by which he is
best known, a few large heads and full-length portraits of actors marked
by a strength of drawing and a breadth of characterization different
from his usual work. One of these is reproduced in Plate 23. On a grey
background, this powerfully designed figure stands out with gigantic
simplicity in masses of dull colour. The prints of this rare type are
perhaps Shunyei's best. Beside them must rank the large actor-heads,
interesting to the collector because of their relation to the work of
another great artist, Sharaku. It is still uncertain whether Sharaku or
Shunyei was the inventor of this type of large bust-portrait. Dr. Kurth
assumes, for the greater glory of Sharaku, that he was the precursor;
but the question cannot be regarded as settled.


Size 13 × 6. Unsigned, but stamped with Jar Seal.

_Plate 24._]


The equal of Shunyei among Shunsho's other pupils is to be found in
Katsukawa Shunko. He was the spiritual image of his master, except that
he had not his master's full command of terror. His figures, as in Plate
24, poise or sway with gentler emotions; as a rule, they are agreeable
rather than impressive. One comes to recognize him frequently by the
peculiar suavity of his designs. It is true that he sometimes approaches
very near to Shunsho's power; but this is less characteristic and less
interesting than his quieter manner. It is unnecessary to treat of him
at great length, for most of his work is of a type whose main qualities
have been treated fully under Shunsho. It is not known when Shunko was
born; he died in 1827.

[Illustration: SHUNKO.]

It may be noted that he sometimes sealed his prints instead of signing
them, using a jar-shaped seal much like that which Shunsho had made

In the Spaulding Collection, Boston, is a remarkable full-size triptych
by Shunko, representing a party of actors picnicking in the country. The
style shows it to be greatly influenced by Kiyonaga; and the whole
composition of this beautiful piece is different from most of Shunsho's


SHUNRI was another pupil of Shunsho; he appears to have been a competent
designer, but no great figure. SHUNTOKU, SHUNKI, SHUNKAKU, SHOYU,
SHUNYEN, SHUNKEN, and SHUNKYOKU may be described in the same words. Each
has perhaps produced a few beautiful works, but their originality is not

RANTOKUSAI SHUNDO, a gifted pupil of Shunsho, has left work so rare that
one cannot make any very definite statement about him. His few known
prints are admirable. One suspects that this signature is merely the
early name of some well-known artist.

SHUNSEI, SHUNRIN, SOBAI, and SHUNKIO are later artists; their importance
is small.

SHUNTEI, "owing partly to illness and partly to systematic indulgence in
drink" (Strange), and partly to complete lack of natural distinction,
produced nothing of interest; and his coarse battle-scenes may be
classed with the crude work characteristic of a later period. He worked
chiefly between 1800 and 1820.

KINCHO SEKIGA is said to have been a pupil of Buncho.

SHUNKO II was a pupil of Shunyei. His name is written in different
characters from that of the first Shunko. KICHOSAI SHUNKO also produced

YUMISHO was a very rare pupil who adopted Kiyonaga's style in line-work.
The same may be said of YENSHI, some of whose work is very beautiful;
he appears to have come much under the influence of Yeishi. Several of
his triptychs are fine.


Utagawa Toyoharu is a strangely equivocal figure in print history; his
fame is great, but no surviving print of his, so far as I have been able
to ascertain, is of a quality to justify fully his reputation. Born in
1733, he studied with Shigenaga and probably with Toyonobu, produced a
limited number of prints in the sixties and seventies, withdrew from
prints to painting when Kiyonaga's new style grew to splendour, and died
in 1814. He is said to have been a sensitive and delicately strung
individual who shrank from competition and worked obscurely. His
best-known work is a series of twelve designs for the various months
done in collaboration with Shunsho and Shigemasa; each print is divided
diagonally into two scenes--a device of unfortunate and ingenious
ugliness. The figures, however, have a certain delicate grace. His
pillar-prints, which are rare, have considerable beauty.

[Illustration: UTAGAWA TOYOHARU.]

Toyoharu has been called a greater artist than Shunsho. It may be true,
yet I am inclined to regard this view either as the result of his
painting and not his print-designing, or as part of a great Toyoharu
myth, for which the later success of his pupils is responsible. Certain
it is that of his surviving prints few are noteworthy, and that he was
greater as a painter and teacher than as a print-designer. We shall
remember him more as the instructor of Toyokuni and Toyohiro and as the
precursor of Hiroshige than for any of his own prints that remain to us.

As a figure-painter, he is known as the founder of the Utagawa School.
As a landscape-painter, he made successful use of European perspective,
which he probably learned from Dutch engravings, and was perhaps the
first Ukioye print-artist to return to the habit of the older schools
and treat landscape not as a mere setting but as a thing by itself. His
scenes are too stiff and too crowded with petty details to lay any real
claim to beauty. He used as the dominant note in many of them the orange
colour so dear to Koriusai; but no pigment can well be imagined that is
less fitted for landscape-rendering. Yet the historical importance of
these prints is great; for they are, so to speak, the grandparents of
the marvellous landscapes of Hiroshige.

UTAGAWA TOYONOBU is believed by some authorities to have been merely
Toyoharu's early name; others think him identical with Ishikawa
Toyonobu; and still others regard him as an independent artist who was a
pupil of Ishikawa Toyonobu, his greater namesake. The few prints we have
by him--I know of less than half a dozen--are not sufficient to enable
one to form an opinion as to this.

TOYOMARU and TOYOHISA were among Toyoharu's pupils.


[Illustration: KITAO SHIGEMASA.]

Kitao Shigemasa may be called the great chameleon of the Ukioye School:
a discriminating chameleon, who chose only the greatest artists of each
decade from whom to take his changing hue. As M. Raymond Koechlin
expresses it, "it was his destiny to reflect in his art the art of the
most original of his contemporaries." Born about 1740, he lived until
1819. His teacher was Shigenaga; this master died not long after
Shigemasa commenced work with him. Thus Shigemasa began painting early
enough to be influenced by the last of the Primitives; and his first
prints, dating from about 1764, are graceful three-colour renderings of
actor-themes in the manner of Kiyomitsu, and more brutal ones in the
manner of Kiyomasu. With the rise of Harunobu and the perfection of
polychrome printing, Shigemasa turned to that style; later he followed
Koriusai, in whose manner he produced some wonderfully beautiful large
sheets of women and some fine pillar-prints. Still later he followed the
style of Shunsho. Together with this artist he produced in 1786 a set of
ten small sheets representing the various stages of sericulture, in
which he surpasses his collaborator. The same two artists had earlier
collaborated, in 1776, to produce the famous illustrated book "Mirror of
the Beauties of the Green Houses." These illustrations are not signed;
but comparing them with Shigemasa's portion of the sericulture series,
which are signed separately by the two artists, we may well believe that
a large part of the peculiar grace of the "Green Houses" is Shigemasa's
and not Shunsho's contribution. With Shunsho and Toyoharu, he
collaborated in a series of designs for the twelve months, of which I
have already spoken under Toyoharu. Like so many other artists of this
period, Shigemasa gradually withdrew from work in the eighties before
the blaze of Kiyonaga's glory. Kiyonaga himself was perhaps influenced
by the older artist.

Shigemasa's draughtsmanship is the one quality that marks him through
all his changes; from first to last, it is superb. With a fine firmness
and ease he produces, as in Plate 18, designs in which restraint
combines with great expressiveness. His faces have repose and
distinction; his draperies are drawn with notable simplicity and
dignity; his cool and quiet colour is admirable. Through all his styles
runs a fastidious delicacy of feeling, and what Fenollosa terms "an even
mastery." He never attempted the impossible or strained towards the
unattainable; all his work has the stamp of a calmly working, reserved,
confident artist. The deliberate, flawless craftsmanship of his works
places him beside the greatest.

Considering the length of his career, he produced surprisingly little
work; important prints by him are now rarer than those of any other
artist of this period. His pillar-prints, which are particularly fine,
have been for many years proverbially few. As a rule only his earlier
prints are signed. His surimono are, however, generally signed with the
brush-name Kosuisai. Sheets from his numerous books are often mounted as
separate prints. Collectors differ in their opinions as to whether it is
advisable thus to take to pieces the sheets of a bound volume, such as
the "Green Houses." Any such act, in dealing with art treasures, should
be approached only after careful consideration; but it seems in this
case a desirable method of preserving and exhibiting what are, after
all, wholly separate pictures.







With the fully developed and complex technique which had been brought to
perfection by the time of Harunobu's death, the colour-print took on a
new richness of expression and reached its culmination in the Third

Generalizations attempting to define the difference between the work of
this and the preceding periods are perilous; but we shall perhaps not be
venturing too dangerously if we summarize the change of attitude as a
step toward naturalism combined with a deepening of ideal significance.

In the period of the Primitives the artistic impulse was almost wholly
one of decoration--an attempt to express in line and colour the great
themes of design that stirred within the brain of the artist. The
Primitives were inspired by what Von Seidlitz calls the desire of
"presenting single characteristic motives of movement." Their creations
had no relation to observed fact or to an exact rendering of Nature;
they were the shadows of lofty dreams of form projected by the luminous
spirit of the artist against the wall of space.

The designs of the Second Period, though hardly more realistic than
those of the First, were nevertheless nearer life. The delights and
passions of real men, even though fancifully regarded, coloured the
conception of the artist as he approached his work; so that we find in
Harunobu the exquisite joys, in Shunsho the terrific revolts, and in
Buncho the super-sensible longings of the heart. Yet it is all
symbolistic, all fictional, and nothing real is portrayed; the sharply
limited world of these prints is a world of imagination from which no
paths of communication open to regions of everyday. The perception of
these artists did not enter into and interpret the seen earth; absorbed
in the creation of a personal dream, it imposed its arbitrary categories
upon objects from without, and had little respect for their intrinsic
beauty. With magic incantations, the designer shattered the forms of the
real world to bits and whimsically remoulded them nearer to the heart's
desire. This attitude--a mixture of adolescence, playfulness, and
vision--may be described by the phrase "naïvely imaginative."

The decorative impulse of the Primitives and the naïvely imaginative
impulse of the Early Polychrome masters changed in the Third Period to a
different variety of inspiration--the naturalistic and interpretive. By
naturalistic and interpretive, I mean the attempt to seize a number of
detached elements of observed life and weave them into a design that
reports not only the idiosyncrasies of the artist, but also some sense
of the deep nature of the elements themselves. The artists of this
period, while mastering the decorative impulse of the Primitives and the
imaginative freedom of the Early Polychrome masters, found reality more
interesting and more worthy of faithful attention than did their
predecessors. Buncho flew off at a tangent to life on the wings of
geometrical design, but Shuncho lingers observant among beautiful women
in quiet gardens: Harunobu abandoned the real world for his harmonious
dreams of colour, but Kiyonaga weaves into harmonies the perfect forms
which his creative imagination evokes from the imperfect forms of actual

The earlier artists had hinted at landscape backgrounds; this period was
the first to go farther and relate the landscape pictorially and
spacially to the figures. The world of these designs is no longer the
world of a lovely but private dream; we seem to enter a region as wide
and free as life itself, inhabited by groups of superb and gracious
figures that are as unforgettable as the Greek gods.

This period may be regarded as one of those few moments of equilibrium
in the history of art when the spiritual dominance of the artist and the
claims of real fact meet in a perfect balance. Toward one extreme lies
fancifulness; toward the other extreme, realism; and in the centre, this
narrow isle of quiet where the two forces join in harmony. Since man
lives neither by bread alone nor by dreams alone, the moments when he
reconciles the claims of his visions with the facts he must face are
the high peaks in his history. Mind and matter, hope and experience,
longing and limitation, for an instant combine in a reconciliation that
interprets and ennobles his environment. This is art's maturity, its
fine and perfect flower.

All these things are implicit in the prints of Kiyonaga prime. He who
can take pleasure in the Hermes of Praxiteles or the Fête Champêtre of
Giorgione will not find the meaning of Kiyonaga's noble figures hard to

In examining the work of Kiyonaga and his contemporaries, it will be
impossible to ignore the fact that during this and the succeeding period
the foremost artists found the chief themes for their designs among the
Oiran, or courtesans of the Yoshiwara. Nor can we omit some
consideration of the curious position of these women. Such an inquiry
has not the unpleasant features that a similar inquiry would have were
the scene Europe. In the Japan of the late eighteenth century the
typical Oiran was no creature of the mire, but a cultivated and splendid
figure whose mental charm was as great as her physical attractiveness.
The poet and the painter, the student and the young aristocrat, found in
her no unworthy companion; and as she strides glowing through the
designs of Kiyonaga or Shuncho she seems rather a beloved of the gods
than a mistress of men.


One of a Series "Designs of Spring Greenery." Size 15 × 10. Signed
_Kiyonaga ga_.

_Plate 25._]

The Yoshiwara or licensed quarter of Yedo was established in 1614 as
part of the general Tokugawa regime of orderliness and control: even by
that date the authorities had tired of the cruel and ugly chaos that
prevails in these matters to-day in our cities. The name of the quarter
was derived from the fact that it was located in the midst of an ancient
"yoshiwara" or rush-moor. In 1657, after a fire that demolished all the
buildings, the quarter was moved to a site half a mile north of the
great Asakusa temple in the north-east outskirts of the city, where it
remains to this day. Within this moated and walled enclosure about a
quarter of a mile square, to which access was obtained through one great
gate, stood orderly rows of large houses crowded close together. The
front of each house was latticed; behind the bars appeared the
splendidly clad inmates. These were of many grades and ranks; it is, as
a rule, the highest class only that are represented in the prints.

The high-class Oiran was a notable personage. Her state was like that of
a princess. Attendant upon her were customarily two small girls, called
Kamuro, who acted as lady's-maids; and one or two older girls, called
Shinzo, whose duties were those of a kind of maid-of-honour. Her attire,
of a gorgeousness wholly different from the costume of the ordinary
woman, bedecks her in many of the prints with truly royal splendour.
Poets sang of her; artists painted her; the common people talked of her
with the same frank and admiring interest that our populace bestows upon
theatrical favourites. Moralless though her life was, it was not in any
external sense degraded; she stood in the position in which have stood
all the great courtesans of history.

The names of the more famous among the Oiran have come down to us
wrapped in glowing tradition. Hana-ōgi of the House of Ōgi-ya, the most
beautiful and deeply loved courtesan of her time, moves immortal through
the designs of Kiyonaga, Shuncho, Yeishi, Utamaro, and their
contemporaries. She was a pupil of the poet Tōkō Genrin, and ranked as a
distinguished artist in both Chinese and Japanese verse. At one time,
obeying the dictates of a profound attachment, she dared all perils and
fled from the Yoshiwara with her lover. These facts, together with the
filial piety for which she was renowned, doubtless augmented her
romantic fame. Of her beauty and lordly carriage the prints leave us no
doubt. Again and again we find lavished upon her well-beloved figure all
the resources of the greatest artists. In Plate 25 she is the leading
figure, with her attendants grouped around her; in Plate 32 she stands
beside a latticed window opening on to the Sumida River, alone and

It is necessary for any one who would understand the art of the period
to put aside preconceived notions and realize that these
courtesan-portraits are not representations of low gutter creatures, but
that they portray women of the highest degree of intellectual refinement
who were in real life much like the cultivated _hetairæ_ of ancient
Athens, the companions, friends, and beloveds of Pericles and Plato.


One of a Series "Brocades of the East." Size 15 × 10. Signed _Kiyonaga
ga_. Gookin Collection.

_Plate 26._]

And as one examines the few records which Japanese writers have given to
the Western world, the conviction grows ever stronger that at this time,
when the free and romantic love of men and women was a thing alien to
the businesslike Japanese marriage system, the one region where love as
we understand it might flourish--the one region where might arise those
desperate attachments of heart for heart which we regard as heroic--was
the isolated enclosure of the Yoshiwara. There no shrewd parents
arranged the unwilling, blind match; there the hampered spirits of that
day found freedom, however perilous; and there alone men and women,
though surrounded by an atmosphere of sordid corruption, faced death as
did the Tristram and Iseult of our legends, in the service of a passion
more precious than life itself.... For the Oiran could turn lover.


_Festival Scene._

      What gods are these, reborn from gracious days
    To fill our gardens with diviner mould
    Than therein dwelling? What bright race of old
    Revisits here one hour our mortal ways?
    Serene, dispassionate, with lordly gaze
    They move through this clear afternoon of gold,
    Equal to life and all its deeps may hold,
    Calm, spacious masters of the glimmering maze.

      What gods are these? or godlike men? whom earth
    Suffices, in a wisdom just and high
    That not repines the boundaries of its birth
    But fills its destined measure utterly--
    Finding in mortal sweetness perfect worth,
    Not yet grown homesick for the wastes of sky.

The reader will perhaps have noted how many artists of the preceding
period withdrew toward the close of their careers from the field to
which a new conqueror had come. This universal victor was Kiyonaga. No
other Ukioye artist ever so dominated his period. All earlier
print-designers were gradually driven into retirement by his colossal
success, and the majority of his contemporaries adopted his style. In
him all previously developed resources met; after him began that long
decline which led through intermediate stages of such hauntingly lovely
decadence to the final death of the art. The Torii School now awoke from
its quiescence, and for the second and final time assumed the dominance
it had in the days of Kiyonobu.

[Illustration: KIYONAGA.]

Little is known of Kiyonaga's life. Born in 1742, he worked as a young
man for a bookseller in Yedo. He studied painting under Kiyomitsu,
became the fourth head of the Torii School, produced the most important
portion of his work between 1777 and 1790, and not long after 1790
retired from any large amount of further print-designing. His death
occurred in 1815.

Though Kiyonaga was a pupil of Kiyomitsu, little of that artist's
influence is visible in his work. It is true that his earliest sheets,
actors in _hoso-ye_ form, are precisely like Kiyomitsu's; but he appears
to have abandoned this style very quickly, and most of his early
actor-prints resemble Shunsho's more than his master's. In certain of
his early works Harunobu's influence is evident; and the long-dead
Moronobu's manner of line-work sometimes appears. From Masanobu he
perhaps inherited the grand carriage of his women. Later, Shigemasa's
style influenced him, and Koriusai had a marked effect upon his
development. He absorbed inspiration from all these artists, gathering
to himself the best in the heritage of the past, and then struck out
with a boldness that is never bizarre, an originality that is never
affected, into his own natural and masterful manner.


Left-hand sheet of a triptych. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Kiyonaga ga_.

_Plate 27._]

By about 1777 he had developed his distinctive style. Its most obvious
characteristic lies in the new quality of the figures he depicts. His
types perhaps grew out of those of Koriusai; but he combined with
Koriusai's richness a monumental quality to find the equal of which we
must go back to the Primitives. It is his union of the pre-Harunobu
dignity with the Harunobu grace and colour, in a superb and easy
synthesis of his own--a truly grand style--that has made him by common
consent the foremost Ukioye artist.

The type of figure which Kiyonaga created is expressive of a more stable
equilibrium of spiritual forces than any seen before. It embodies a
normality of attitude characteristic of the great culminating periods of
art. The primitive artist expresses himself in figures whose mannerisms
and constraint suggest the limitations of his technique; the decadent
artist, as we shall see later, pours his visions into figures of a
slender langour and relaxation that parallel his own weariness and
satiety; but the artist of the prime draws large-limbed, wholesome,
magnificently normal figures as the symbols of his magnificently normal

These figures of Kiyonaga's mature period are unforgettable creations.
Tall and strong, moving with the unconscious and stately grace of superb
animals, they carry the suggestion of a spiritual structure even more
glorious than the structure of their bodies; and one looks upon them
with a sentiment not unlike awe, as upon princesses of some land of the
gods. Kiyonaga's perfect drawing, operating through a naturalistic yet
highly imaginative convention, ennobles the forms he portrays as did the
convention of the Greek sculptors; and he comes nearer to the Greek
sentiment toward the nude than does any other Japanese artist except
Toyonobu. His nudes themselves are not what I now refer to, but rather
to that sense of bodily presence, that consciousness of the limbs
beneath the draperies, which, as in Plate 28, one finds recurrently in
his pictures. He keeps his draperies simple, denying himself the
gorgeous brocades of birds and flowers which Koriusai used so richly.
The garments he draws are beautiful; but he does not lose in their
ornamentation the lines of the splendidly proportioned body beneath;
muscles contract and limbs move under the fine folds; and our sense of
the textiles is dominated by our sense of the organism within.

The movements, gestures, and attitudes of these figures are tranquil and
strong; their forms are never melting or seductive, but always touched
with a fine rigour. In one notable diptych, where a group of women and a
seated man are gathered on the terrace of a tea-house overlooking the
seashore, vigour of spiritual sanity and refinement of pictorial
composition touch the highest point reached in the whole course of the
art. The harmonies of this particular design, "The Terrace by the Sea,"
embody the best and most characteristic powers of Kiyonaga.


One sheet of a triptych. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Kiyonaga ga_. Gookin

_Plate 28._]

We have never seen in bodily presence such people as Kiyonaga's. Yet, as
Turner is reported to have said of his sunset, "don't you wish you had?"
These figures are serene, supernatural, Olympian; fictional, just as
Harunobu's are but differing from his in that they interpret possible
development and portray the human ideal, and do not lie apart from
reality in a region of private vision.

Kiyonaga saw, as the greatest artists of mature epochs have always seen,
that the fictions of personal fancy are not so interesting or so
beautiful as imaginative renderings of reality. In so far as he
respected reality he was a realist. Yet he was never the dupe of that
realism which attempts to report photographically. In his renderings
fact took a harmonious place alongside of those idealizations which were
personal to him. Kiyonaga saw Nature with clear eyes, and on the solid
foundation of observed fact he reared the noble structure of his vision
of life--a vision in which the world is peopled by a race such as the
human race ought to be.

This was Kiyonaga's primary contribution to Ukioye art. Consequent upon
it he introduced certain important innovations.

We have seen how Harunobu, dreaming in colour and pushing to the
farthest limits the refinements of technique in colour-printing,
produced miniature jewelled improvisations that have never been
equalled. Harunobu customarily elaborated every portion of his sheet
with these inlayings of beautiful tones, enriching his figures with
gauffrage and tinting his backgrounds of sky and water. He resembled a
worker in enamels who must cover every inch of his surface with luminous

But just as Harunobu toward the end of his life felt these effects to be
only partially adequate, and turned to the larger world of
pillar-prints--so from the beginning Kiyonaga found this jewelled
delicacy to be incompatible with the scope that was the need of his
specific genius. He discarded all those lovely tricks of the engraver
and the printer which had been almost an end in themselves to Harunobu.
He abstained from giving to his backgrounds Harunobu's exquisite neutral
tones, feeling that they could only suffer by the addition of tint. He
was no colour-dreamer, but a great harmonist of lines and spaces; and
the lofty skies and wide horizons that create distance behind his
figures attest his wisdom.

Similarly he was unable to content himself with the flawless grace of
line that Harunobu and Buncho had mastered. Either from the powerful and
massive brush-strokes of Moronobu or from the even more expressive
brushwork of Shigemasa, he derived a style that is one of his chief
glories. No use of line was ever more virile than his. The brush seems
to vibrate in his hand; the strokes are instinct with life along every
fraction of their length; the line narrows, widens, swirls, breaks, and
flows in perfect response to the will of the mind behind it. So
individual is Kiyonaga's touch that it would be possible for an expert
to attribute to him a print of which only one square inch survived.


A triptych. Each sheet size 15 × 10. Signed _Kiyonaga ga_. Spaulding

_Plate 29._]

It is characteristic of Kiyonaga's style that he did not confine himself
to the small square sheets used by Harunobu and the small oblong
_hoso-ye_ used by Shunsho. His most important work is in the form of the
large full-size sheets which he adopted from Koriusai. In these he rose
to a height unparalleled in Ukioye; and M. Koechlin is quite right in
esteeming Kiyonaga's sense of elaborate composition, here so
impressively displayed, as his chief grandeur.

In the series of large sheets without backgrounds, "Designs of Spring
Greenery," one of which is reproduced in Plate 25--Kiyonaga produced
work not very different from that of his collaborator Koriusai. Only in
certain sheets is there a harmonious grasp of the full possibilities of
pictorial composition. But proceeding to other series, the gap widens.
In the series "Present Day Beauties of the Yoshiwara," he advanced to
his own unique field. Possibly he touched the supreme height in the
great group "Brocades of the Customs of the East," which includes such
well-known prints as the two saltwater carriers on the seashore, the
three singers at the bath, the two ladies conversing with a
flower-vendor, and the print reproduced in Plate 26.

From these prints Kiyonaga proceeded to still further combinations,
devising compositions in which two, three, or even five sheets unite
into one wide design. For the triptych we have Kiyonaga to thank. The
triptych was not, it is true, literally Kiyonaga's invention; many
artists in the First and Second Periods had produced _hoso-ye_ sheets in
sets of three that could be joined together to form one picture. In
fact, each set of three was originally one sheet printed from one set of
blocks; and it was convenience and economy rather than the idea of
producing any real three-piece composition that led to the production of
these sets. The prints were almost always conceived as separate
pictures; they seldom gain by juxtaposition, and frequently suffer by

Far other was the impulse that led Kiyonaga to his diptych and triptych
compositions. The great triptych of the "Disembarkment," the diptych of
the "Night Expedition," the "Serenade" triptych reproduced in Plate 29,
and the whole series of diptychs called "Twelve Months of the South," to
which belongs the marvellous "Terrace by the Sea," are all dominated by
an indigenous rhythm of line and colour. These designs have not
Shunsho's startling force, nor Harunobu's minutely detailed grace, nor
Koriusai's richness; all these elements Kiyonaga sacrifices for a
broader sweep and a more unified pictorial quality. His designs
co-ordinate the elements of line, colour, figures, and landscape into
total impressions of such large harmony as we have not seen before and
shall hardly see again. To over-estimate the genius that produced the
grouping of his best work is impossible; to realize it fully requires
careful analysis, so unobtrusive and inevitable are its effects.


Size 27 × 4½. Signed _Kiyonaga ga_.


Size 27 × 6. Signed _Kiyonaga ga_.

_Plate 30._]

Kiyonaga's greatest works are these triptychs and diptychs in which
he depicts the holiday life of his Olympian figures. Even single sheets
from them are treasures; for though they combine into still greater
compositions, each one, as we may see in Plate 27, or in any one of the
sheets of Plate 29, is a perfect unit that can stand alone. His
pillar-prints, of which two appear in Plate 30, are ranked among the
foremost works in this form.

Eventually Kiyonaga's finest manner passed. Though the vigour of his
brush-strokes remained, his figures began to take on an exaggerated
length and slimness characteristic of the coming decadence. Therefore
his retirement from print-designing, a little after 1790, was not, as in
the case of Harunobu's untimely death, an irreparable loss. His greatest
work was finished. Why he retired is not known; the various speculations
on the subject are not very enlightening.

Though the finest Kiyonaga prints rarely come into the market nowadays,
the less important examples of his work are by no means impossible to
obtain. His smaller prints, and his pillar-prints in particular, are
among the most attractive acquisitions remaining for the collector. The
large single sheets, if fine impressions and in fine condition, are
among the foremost of the collector's treasures. The great triptychs are
almost unprocurable, except in poor condition.

The collector must patiently await his opportunity. There is probably
not a single Kiyonaga obtainable anywhere to-day that is of the quality
of that unique group of marvellously printed masterpieces which once
belonged to Fenollosa, and which is now one of the glories of the
Spaulding Collection in Boston. Similarly, the Mansfield Collection in
New York and the Buckingham Collection in Chicago contain Kiyonagas
which are the result of long years of search and which could not be
duplicated in all the markets of the world combined.


TORII KIYOMASA was the son of Kiyonaga. His work, produced between 1810
and 1825, is without special distinction.

Among the minor pupils may be named Kiyotsugi, Kiyohisa, Kiyokatsu,
Kiyotei, Kiyotoki, Kiyoyuki, Kiyohide II, Kiyotsune II.

Every artist of the day was influenced by Kiyonaga; among those
difficult to classify otherwise may be named the following men:--

SANCHŌ, who worked in the neighbourhood of 1780, produced prints
somewhat in the manner of Shuncho. Delicacy rather than strength
distinguished him in the few examples of his work I have seen.

HARUMITSU is an artist whose work is known to me only by one
pillar-print in my collection. Fenollosa, who once owned the print,
noted on the margin of it: "A rare man. Name may be also read Shunkō,
but not the same as the pupil of Shunsho. A follower of Kiyonaga." And
this is all the information I have been able to obtain about him. It is
possible that he is the same as Shunko II.


A diptych. Each sheet size 15 × 10. Signed _Shuncho ga_. Mansfield

_Plate 31._]


      Your lovely ladies shall not fade
    Though Yedo's moated walls be laid
    Level with dust, and night-owls brood
    Over the city's solitude.
    Far be the coming of that day!
    Yet that it comes not, who shall say?
    Who knows how long the halls shall stand
    Of your once-golden wonderland?
    Perhaps shall Nikko crumble down,
    Its carvings worn, its glow turned brown
    Through many winters. On that hill
    Where great Ieyasu's brazen will
    In brazen tomb now takes its rest,
    Perhaps the eagle's young shall nest.
    Kyoto's gardens cannot last.
    At Kamakura, where the vast
    Form of the Buddha fronts the sea,
    A waste of waves may someday be....
      Ah, stale and flat the warning bell
    Whose melancholy accents tell
    Impermanence to hearts that guess
    Time's undiscovered loveliness.
    A fairer Yedo shall arise;
    A richer Nikko praise the skies;
    Ieyasus mightier than of old
    Shall cast the world in wiser mould;
    Fresh gardens shall be spread; new faith
    Shall spring when Buddha is a wraith--
    And more puissant hands than yours
    Shall paint anew life's ancient lures.
    Yet when he comes who shall surpass
    Your beauty that so matchless was,
    A joy shall light him through your eyes,
    A flame shall from your embers rise,
    Your gentle art shall make him wise
    In mastery of melodies.
    And though your wreath in dust be laid,
    Your lovely ladies shall not fade!

Nothing is known of the life or personality of Katsukawa Shuncho. His
name and certain peculiarities of his drawing indicate unmistakably
that he began his career as a pupil of Shunsho; but he soon fell under
the influence of Kiyonaga and became that artist's most notable
follower. His main work lies between the years 1775 and 1800; it is
thought that he stopped designing prints before the latter year, though
he is said to have lived until after 1821. His designs, one of which
appears in Plate 31, comprise chiefly figures of women, drawn with
extraordinary grace of line and softness of colouring.

[Illustration: SHUNCHO.]

Except in a few early actor-prints, Shuncho had only one manner--that
which we have come to call the middle Kiyonaga style. It was early in
his career that he threw off the harsh dominance of Shunsho. M. Raymond
Koechlin points out that had he remained under that influence he would
without doubt have been lost in the banal horde of designers of
actor-prints who spiritlessly followed that great artist. For there was
nothing in common between the rugged masterful genius of Shunsho and the
luminous grace of his pupil. Kiyonaga's style, however, Shuncho could
adopt and utilize to express his own peculiar and mild sense of beauty,
with a perfection that makes him stand out unique among Kiyonaga's
disciples. Other pupils of Kiyonaga followed the master for a longer or
shorter while; but all the others sooner or later developed styles of
their own or copied the styles of other leaders--often eccentric and
decadent leaders, far inferior to him whom they had abandoned. But
Shuncho, having adopted the Kiyonaga manner at its noblest, when the
proportions in the drawing of the figure were most natural and
dignified, never departed from it except to make it slightly less
naturalistic, in accordance with what he had learned from his first
master Shunsho. That this was so manifests Shuncho's purity of feeling,
and also reveals his strange lack of desire to experiment in new
manners. No artist so great as Shuncho has ever been so little endowed
with initiative and invention. I fancy that he marks the point in the
development of the Ukioye School where, after the progressive force of
Kiyonaga had spent itself, the art stands still for a brief moment of
perfect balance before it begins to take its course down the long slope
of the decline.


Size 17 × 4½. Signed _Shuncho ga_.


Size 27 × 5. Signed _Shuncho ga_.

_Plate 32._]

In many respects like Kiyonaga, Shuncho can hardly be regarded as second
even to his master, except in originality. He lacked Kiyonaga's great
creative imagination--an imagination which brought into being the
Olympian style. But his gifts enabled him to assimilate this style
perfectly and turn it to his own slightly different uses. His sense of
composition is rather undistinguished when compared with Kiyonaga's; but
the delicacy of his drawing, the restrained harmonies of his colour, and
the clean vitality of his line have a beauty that we could ill afford to
sacrifice even for Kiyonaga's strength. Kiyonaga brings down the gods in
all their noble dignity to walk the earth in calm magnificence; but
Shuncho leads us into a secret heaven where the loveliest and most
flower-like of the gods have remained behind. His is a softer beauty,
touched with remote half-lights, vibrant with faint wistfulness; his
superb women turn in mid-joy as though far and grave music had suddenly
drifted to their hearing; their perfection passes over into the region
where beauty becomes sadness. No women in the whole range of Japanese
art so haunt one's memory as do his; no beauty seems at the same time so
flawless and so charged with the burden of transitoriness. One cannot
but feel that where Kiyonaga's healthy vision saw only the happiness and
brilliance and splendour of the forms that swept by him in the mortal
procession, Shuncho saw also the ghostly fleetness of their passing and
the melancholy of their radiance sunset-bound; and around his figures
this sense throws a quiet tender light, a suggestion of brooding and
caressing sweetness.


Size 26 × 4½. Unsigned.


Size 25 × 5. Signed _Yeisho ga_.

_Plate 33._]

In his finest prints the softly luminous colour and the gently sweeping
lines of his ladies move sometimes through the palely glowing rooms of
palaces, but more often through sunlit fields and gardens and blossoming
groves--regions of delight and cloudless skies, scenes of eternal
happiness. His colour-schemes in these natural settings are artfully
contrived to produce, through the limited agency of flat tints, an
impression of crystal-clear atmosphere around and behind the figures. In
both his triptychs and his pillar-prints there often stretches away this
delicate world of hills or seashore or river-bank that plays no small
part in the incantation of beauty. His pillar-prints, of which three
are reproduced in Plates 32 and 33, are especially fine; I sometimes
think that here he surpasses Kiyonaga.

And yet there is about all his work a strange impersonality, an absence
of any note that brings to our notice Shuncho himself, the observer and
recorder. He is detached even from his own most perfect work. Compare
him with Harunobu or Sharaku or Utamaro, and observe how invisible he
is--how his designs have a transparency that absolutely conceals him.

In historical importance and in originality Shuncho is secondary to
Kiyonaga; in absolute beauty his work deserves a place beside that of
the master. As a colourist--his most distinguished rôle--he was perhaps
the greater of the two.

The collector may be interested to note that practically all Shuncho's
work is printed with the utmost sharpness and refinement; poor
impressions of his prints are almost unknown. In this particular he is
in striking contrast to many of his contemporaries; and one may perhaps
trace his care to the training of Shunsho, of whose work also I have
seldom seen a really poor impression. Shuncho's work is unfortunately
not common; finely preserved copies are scarcer than Kiyonaga's.


Katsukawa Shunzan was a little-known artist who worked from about 1775
to about 1810. He was first, as his name would suggest, a pupil of
Shunsho; in his rare early prints in _hoso-ye_ form he produced actors
in the manner of that school with considerable charm of line, but
without great vigour. Even in these early pieces Shunzan's leaning
towards sweetness and suavity suggests that he was not at home in the
Shunsho manner; and it is not strange to find that he later turned to
Kiyonaga, under whose powerful influence he produced his best-known
work--beautiful ladies in robes of splendour. He generally copied the
Kiyonaga type of figure closely, but a little stiffly; and he was not
often master of those harmonies of arrangement and grouping which
distinguished his teacher. But occasionally his colour is very rich and

[Illustration: SHUNZAN.]

Either he produced little or else time has been even less than normally
kind to his work, for few prints by him survive.


Kubo Shunman was one of those singular artists who fascinate us almost
as much by mystery as by beauty. Living from 1757 to 1820, or, as some
authorities say, to 1829, he was at one time a pupil of Shigemasa; but
he later turned to Kiyonaga as his final and most important teacher.
From Kiyonaga he learned the rudiments of his style; yet on the whole
his work resembles Kiyonaga very little. An individual touch dominates
all his compositions. He may be called the symphonist of greys; for a
large part of his most notable production is done in modulated shades of
this colour, heightened and made luminous here and there by carefully
calculated touches of green, yellow, red, or violet. His figures are
drawn in a manner less solid than Kiyonaga's; as in Plate 45, the lines
seem tormented and strained into arabesques of peculiar and restless
beauty. The harmony of his colour is kept by this sharp intensity of
line-work from sinking into mere sweetness and flatness.

[Illustration: KUBO SHUNMAN.]

These figures of Shunman, sketched with the curious uneasiness of line
of which I speak, stand before backgrounds of equal strangeness. The
landscapes seem instinct with an obscure life; the Talking Oak of Dodona
was never more haunted than are they. His great six-sheet composition,
"The Six Tamagawa," is positively disturbing in the feeling of
supernatural forces that it awakens. As Fenollosa says: "Everything he
does has a strange touch. The Kiyonaga face becomes distorted with a
sort of divine frenzy; trees grope about with their branch-tips like
sentient beings; flowers seem to exhale unknown perfumes, and the waters
of his streams writhe and glide with a sort of reptilian fascination."
Or, as Mr. Arthur Morrison puts it: "There is a touch of fantasy in most
of his published designs, as well as in some of his original
pictures--an atmosphere as of some strange country where the trees, the
rocks, the flowers, and the streams are alive with human senses and
mysterious communion."

For reasons not wholly clear, the work of Shunman is received by the
Japanese connoisseurs with more favour than that of most Ukioye artists.
Some obscure quality of restraint and imagination relates him to the
older classical schools in a way that makes him acceptable to their
aristocratic exclusiveness of taste.

Shunman's best prints are so rare as to be beyond the dreams of the
ordinary collector. His complete "Tamagawa" is a work for which all the
great collectors in the world compete. His smaller prints and
book-illustrations are, however, procurable; and his surimono are
excellent and fairly numerous. His pillar-prints, of which only three or
four designs are known to me, are remarkably fine.


_Two Women._

      What floors have ye trod? What sky-paven places have opened
        their halls to your eyes?
    What light was yours, through summerward spaces watching the
        swallow that flies?
    What holy silence has touched your faces--what hush of paradise?

      I think that he died of a longing unspoken who dreamed you
        to walk in our ways.
    The wheel at the cistern, the pitcher is broken: ye wot not that
        dust decays--
    Ye, torn from the heart of the dreamer as token to dreamers of
        other days.

Kitao Masanobu was another of the pupils of Shigemasa who marched
eventually beneath the banner of Kiyonaga, though he retained to the
last much of his first master's manner. Born in 1761, he lived until
1816. His occupations besides painting were various: he kept a
tobacco-shop, and was best known in his own day under the literary name
of Kyōden, for his highly popular novels and comic poems. He produced
very few prints, but those few are of distinguished quality, all of them
probably the product of his early years, before he reached the age of
thirty. At least one of these, reproduced in Plate 31, is an
unsurpassable triumph. His resemblance to his first master is so marked
that it is not always possible at first glance to distinguish his prints
from those of Shigemasa. In fact there is a certain unsigned
pillar-print, representing the two lovers Komurasaki and Gompachi, which
is still of doubtful authorship, some authorities attributing it to
Shigemasa, while others assign it to Masanobu.

[Illustration: MASANOBU (KITAO).]

Possibly Kitao Masanobu is most widely known for his elaborate
illustrated book, "Celebrated Women of the Tea Houses and their
Handwritings." This volume was published about 1780; I have already
referred to it in dealing with the great illustrated book of Shunsho and
Shigemasa. It consists of seven large double-page illustrations in many
colours, and is a highly praised work, sheets of which are often
mounted as separate prints. It appears to me, however, to have been
overrated; and my impression is that in these designs elaborateness has
smothered composition and richness has obliterated beauty.

Kitao Masanobu's single-sheet prints are lamentably few, as are also his
pillar-prints; but from those that remain to us it is possible to rank
Masanobu as an artist second to only the very greatest. Spirituality is
a clumsy word to use in describing work so definitely embodied as this;
yet none other conveys the sense of his peculiar and grave harmony. The
mature beauty of his work carries us back to the perfection of

The collector will search long before he finds an important print by
this artist to add to his collection.


Kitao Masayoshi, who frequently signed himself Keisai or Shosin, was a
curious and original designer, who lived from 1761 to 1824. Though a
pupil of Shigemasa, he appears to have drawn a large part of his
inspiration from a source outside the Ukioye movement--the Kano School
of painting, in which the classical traditions still flourished. In his
main period, contemporaneous with Kiyonaga, his work was little
influenced by the great master. His designs are marked chiefly by the
vividness of his observation of flowers, animals, and landscape, and by
his technical skill in recording them. His books of sketches are his
best-known works--drawings in a manner new to wood-engraving; he
seldom employs any key-block, but leaves the main body of his colour
in broad impressionistic sweeps of the brush without definite boundary.
He approached Nature somewhat as did Hokusai in later days, with a sharp
perception and infinite interest. His work lies aside from the main
current of Ukioye history--an interesting backwater that comes more
properly within the region of classical painting than within that of


Size 15½ × 22. Signed _Masanobu ga_. Spaulding Collection.

_Plate 34._]

Single-sheet prints by Masayoshi are very rare. His book-sheets are
somewhat more frequently met with.







The change that confronts us as we turn from the period of Kiyonaga to
that of Utamaro, Yeishi, and Toyokuni is one whose significance is not
at first sight wholly clear. We find the sound and classic figures of
Kiyonaga gradually replaced by new and fascinating types--slender
drooping bodies, wonderfully piled coiffures, elaborately brocaded
robes; and the virile drawing of the earlier master gives way to the
sinuous curves and arresting plasticity of the new designers. The
favourite types of this time are almost as unreal as those of the
Primitives, but they convey a totally different feeling; on the one
hand, in their curious perverted way, they are far more realistic than
the Primitives ever dreamed of being; and on the other hand, they seem
the products of minds weary of reality, who turn to the phantasies of
the not wholly normal spirit for their ideals and their consolations.

It must not be supposed, however, that the transition to this style of
the Decadence was a sudden one. The painters who had most perfectly
assimilated the style of Kiyonaga were the very ones who, in this
period, turned to the depiction of figures in which every line betrays
the weariness of the hour and its craving for novelty. The apex of
creative energy in this art had been reached and the inevitable decline
was under way.

Of the forces that produced this decline we have comparatively little
knowledge. Fenollosa's account of the social conditions of the period
throws some light upon the problem. "It was," he says, "a period of
crisis in Tokugawa affairs. The cleavage between the aristocratic and
the plebeian strata of Japanese life, which had become placidly
conscious of itself in the days of Genroku, now threatened a moral, a
social, if not a political disruption. The new factors of popular
education--art, prints, illustrated books, the theatre, novels, contact
with the Dutch at Nagasaki--all had stimulated the spirit of inquiry and
of unrest which had penetrated back in investigation to the facts of the
Shogun's usurpation; which wrote new, popular histories of the national
life; which gave plays and novels a semi-political aim. This deeper wave
of self-consciousness on the part of the people was met by the
authorities with sterner repressions. The better elements that might
have drifted into improving the popular standards in pleasure and art
were driven out by a strict censorship. There was thus a sort of
natural, or unnatural, selection which tended to isolate and give
prominence to the coarser side of the popular feeling. If the issue were
squarely made between Confucius and rank demoralization, there was
little resource for the commoner but to choose the latter. Thus there
arose a sort of alliance between the theatre and the houses of pleasure
on the one hand, and the disaffected among the literary and political
agitators upon the other. Men, great men who sowed the seeds of the
revolution which ripened in 1868, had to flee for asylum, not to
Buddhist temples, but to the labyrinths of the Yoshiwara, where, in the
care of a romantic love lavished upon them by its then highly cultivated
_hetairæ_, they could print and disperse, from their hidden presses,
seditious tracts which set the heart of the nation on fire. It was not
the ideals of a ripe self-consciousness, such as Kiyonaga had attempted;
it was a struggle of living desires against outworn conventions and
hopeless tyrannies. Hence, the two phases of a new Ukioye art--its
pressure outward toward fuller scientific realisms, and its frank
recreations in the vulgarities of its surroundings."

In addition to the restlessness growing out of such political
conditions, we should remember that it is not the nature of the human
race to be satisfied even with perfection for very long. Kiyonaga, with
all his placid beauty, could not forever suffice men who felt themselves
to be living as passionately "modern" lives as we do to-day. Change was
required to keep them interested; and since the idealization of sound
vitality could hardly be pushed farther than Kiyonaga had taken it, the
obvious path for the artist lay in the direction of fantastic variations
on the old theme and in the idealization of the erotic phantoms evoked
by uneasy weariness. New refinements had to be introduced; new emotions
had to be stirred; and the unending search for novelty led in due time
to strained efforts, perverted mannerisms, and distorted outlooks upon

So much for that part of the decadence which was due merely to the
desire for change. But there was another element of even more definite
operation. It is fairly clear that part of the fatal development
resulted from that slow drift toward realism which we have seen growing,
period by period, since the days of the Primitives. The age of Harunobu,
with its new technical resources, had abandoned pure decoration and
aspired to put into its designs something of the flavour of life. The
age of Kiyonaga, with its complete mastery of technique, had projected
into its designs its observation of real beings--drawn with a fine
idealization, but nevertheless based on a deep fidelity to concrete
forms. The age of Utamaro had a choice of only two steps left to take if
it were to advance to any new position--a step in the direction of still
closer fidelity to nature, or a step in the direction of complete revolt
from naturalism into regions of wild phantasy. Characteristically, it
took both!

Particular instances will show this. Utamaro and Sharaku recorded the
peculiarities of real things with a sharpness of observation and an
accuracy of rendering that the earlier artists had never approached. And
at the same time they used these sharply mastered details of nature as
mere brick and mortar out of which to construct fantastic edifices of
the most unbridled imagination. Because they were geniuses, they did
this and created masterpieces; but they left to later times and lesser
artists only the sterile heritage of a deadening realism which they had
found it convenient to employ, but to which they themselves had never
been truly subject.

At the beginning of this period Yeishi, Choki, Sharaku, and the young
Utamaro produced work that ranks quite as high in beauty as that of
preceding days. Yeishi's visionary figures of women, drawn with a
disembodied and fragile grace, are in their way matchless things, whose
only fault is their lack of virile strength. Choki's finest works are
wholly beyond praise. Sharaku, the supreme master of actor-portraits and
one of the great artists of the world, created designs of stupendous
power; if there is any trace of decadence in him it is not weakness but
brutality. Utamaro, in his earlier years at least, was as wholesome as
Kiyonaga; and even when, in later times, he turned to figures that have
about them an indescribable atmosphere of languor and decline, he made
of them designs that are to many people the most beautiful productions
of the whole school. In all of these men, technical power and sense of
composition were of unimpaired vigour. Why, then it may be asked, should
we speak of the decadence?

The answer lies partly in the fact that these productions, as a rule,
express in their languid or overstrained figures tendencies of emotional
super-refinement and nervous tension that impress every beholder with a
sense of disintegration, and partly in the history of later days. For
the moment, the rivalry between the great men of the period was so keen
as to sustain what was, after all, the dying effort of their art. The
successes of each one spurred the others on to new types and new
feverish devices, feeding thus the flames of the desire for novelty
among the people. But the end was at hand. By 1800, in the later work of
Utamaro, in most of the work of Toyokuni, and in practically all the
work of their followers, genuine artistic weakness appeared,
sensationalism took the place of vigour, garishness supplanted harmony,
and crude emotions, crude drawing, crude colour became the common
feature. The ancient sense of style gave way to a desire to push
pictorial effects beyond their legitimate boundary, and the edge of the
abyss was in sight.

But before that moment came there remained sixteen years in the
productions of which we shall find beauties less sane and sound than
those of Kiyonaga, but nevertheless perpetually delighting.


_Portrait of a Woman._

      Out of the silence of dead years
    Your slender presence seems to move--
    A fragrance that no time outwears--
    A perilous messenger of love.

      From far your wistful beauty brings
    A wonder that no lips may speak--
    A music dumb save as it clings
    About your shadowy throat and cheek.

      Longing is round you like that haze
    Of luminous and tender glow
    Which memory in the later days
    Gives vanished days of long ago.

      And he who sees you must retrace
    All sweetness that his life has known,
    And with the vision of your face
    Link some lost vision of his own.

      The long curves of your saffron dress--
    The outline of your delicate mould--
    Your strange unearthly slenderness
    Seem like a wraith's that strayed of old

      Out of some region where abide
    Fortunate spirits without stain,
    Where nothing lovely is denied,
    And pain is only beauty's pain.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      Strange! that in life you were a thing
    Common to many for delight,
    Thrall to the revelries that fling
    Their gleam across the fevered night--

      A holy image in the grasp
    Of pagans careless to adore;
    A pearl secreted in the clasp
    Of oozy weeds on some lost shore.

      My thought shrinks back from what I see,
    And wanders dumb in poisoned air--
    Then leaps, inexplicably free,
    Remembering that you were fair!

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      Belovèd were you in your prime
    By one, of all, who came as guest,--
    A wastrel strange, whose gaze could climb
    To where your beauty lit the west.

      One,--in whose secret heart there moved
    Some far and unforgotten stir
    Of ancient, holy beauties loved,--
    Here paused, a sudden worshipper.

      Methinks he moved in dusks apart
    Through that profound and trembling hour
    When you within his doubting heart
    Touched all the desert into flower.

      And where you rose a world's delight,
    For him the dark veils from you fell,--
    As earthly clouds from star-strewn night
    Withdraw, and leave a miracle.

      Not Oiran then, but maid; remote
    From tyrant powers of waste desire.
    Who drew these hands, this slender throat,
    Saw you 'mid skaken winds of fire.

      You were a shape of wonder, set
    To crown the seeking of his days.
    For you his lonely eyes were wet;
    With you his soul walked shrouded ways.

      And though the burning night might keep
    You servient to some lord's carouse,
    For him you rose from such a deep
    With maiden dawn-light on your brows.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      Pale Autumn with ethereal glow
    Hovered your delicate figure near;
    And ever round you whispered low
    Her voices, and the dying year.

      A year--a day--and then the leaves
    Purpureal, ashen, umber, red,
    Wove for you both through waning eves
    A gorgeous carpet gloomward spread.

      And with that waning, you had gone,
    Through changes that love fears to trace--
    No later lover could have known
    Your wistful and alluring face--

      Your music, quivering in thin air,
    Had fled with life that filled your veins--
    But he for whom you were so fair
    Dreamed; and the troubled dream remains.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      Time, that is swift to smite and rend
    The common things that spring from earth,
    Dares not so surely set an end
    To shapes of visionary birth.

      There often his destroying touch
    Lingers as with a lulled caress,
    Adding, to that which has so much,
    An alien ghostly loveliness.

      So shall your beauty, crescent, pass
    From me through many a later hand,
    Each year more luminous than it was--
    O April out of Sunset Land!

The career of Hosoda Yeishi as a print-designer began about 1780 at the
time when Kiyonaga was in full sway, and lasted until shortly after the
beginning of the nineteenth century--a date when Kiyonaga had for some
years been in retirement. Thus in Yeishi perhaps more fully than in any
other artist except Utamaro may be observed the crucial transition from
the period of Kiyonaga to the period of complete decline.

[Illustration: YEISHI.]

Yeishi was originally a noble of high rank who studied under Kano
Yeisen, the court painter; and not even in the last years of his career,
when vulgarizing influences were dominant, did he lose the refinement
and aristocratic delicacy that are his most striking characteristics.
Shortly before he became a Ukioye painter he had been attached to the
household of the Shogun Iyeharu. It is not difficult to imagine the
horror of Yeishi's early circle of associates when he threw over
conventionality and station, and plunged into the _vie de Bohème_ of a
popular painter. "This youth," remarks Fenollosa, "doubtless shocked all
his friends in tiring of the solemn old Chinese poets who had been
gliding about in impossible landscapes since Tanyu first labelled them,
and of the semi-serious, long-headed old gods who gave knowing winks to
their turtles and storks, and in running off to such abominable haunts
of the cow-headed Buddhist Satan as Danjuro's theatre-pit, fragrant with
the odours of _saki_ and raw fish, or the lantern-hung balconies of
merry damsels on the river-boats."

But the elegant court gentleman was not destined to sink in the
maelstrom. To this underworld he brought his own subtlety of vision and
evoked from it figures of unfading beauty. At the outset Kiyonaga was
his guide--a guide perhaps too blindly followed. Certainly Yeishi's
first productions, superb as they were, cannot be called his most
characteristic. Plate 35 is an example. They are wholly in the Kiyonaga
manner except that they have a touch of fragility and delicacy that is
alien to Kiyonaga. The proportions of the figures are the same, but
Yeishi's curves are less naturalistic; they seem the product of one
whose hungry visions lapped like waves against the shore of reality,
shaping it into contours determined by their own demands. The "feeling
of repose" which Mr. Strange notes is not repose at all but weariness.
At first the perfect poise of these forms may deceive us; but as we
advance along the calendar of Yeishi's work we find it pervaded by a
spirit less serene, more high-strung, more drugged with beauty than was


One sheet of a triptych. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Yeishi ga_.

_Plate 35._]

In what we may call Yeishi's second style, he gives the peculiarities of
his nature full expression. The tall slender figures cease to recall
Kiyonaga's; the robust vigour goes out of them; they become impalpable,
wistful creatures, hovering before us with slow grace, moving by us in
grave procession. These beautiful women are like creatures seen in a
dream; they have the solemnity and aloofness of priestesses intent on
the performance of secret rites. Their long robes sweep in stately
pageant; their delicate heads bend in exquisite weariness.

Fenollosa strangely speaks of the "keenness of Yeishi's
characterizations," and says that, "with no idealizations to trouble
him, he put down what he saw as frankly as a young reporter." This is a
surprising misinterpretation. Yeishi was perhaps more notably a
visionary than any other Ukioye artist; he was haunted by supersensible
intimations, perverted by a search for unearthly beauty. A fascinating
painter! He has not the brilliancy and versatility of Utamaro; but the
taste is hard to please which finds monotony in his series of
perfections. In his second period--his most individual and powerful--he
produced compositions that are hardly inferior to Kiyonaga's. Yeishi may
be regarded as one of the few designers who perfectly mastered the
triptych form. His arrangements are simpler than Kiyonaga's but no less
beautiful. A notable series depicting various polite occupations from
the life of Prince Genji are so harmonious in design, so lovely in
colour, and so instinct with spiritual refinement as to rank among his
finest works. In some of these triptychs Yeishi introduces his
interesting colour-invention--a scheme of grey, yellow, violet, blue,
and black, which he handles superbly. Among his other triptychs, "The
Treasure Ship" is especially notable. In this print, a barge whose prow
is shaped like the head and breast of the mythical _Hoho_ bird seems
adrift on a river of peace; its wonderful freight--nine noble ladies
engaged in the refined entertainments of paintings, games, and
poetry--express the nostalgia of Watteau's figures and the line-beauty
of Botticelli's. The repose of heaven is upon them, and the delicate
satiety of heavenly beings.

Yeishi was one of the few painters besides Shunman who successfully
managed grey as a dominant tone. In certain of his prints he produced
notable results in this manner, using a style in which lights of yellow
and purple are arranged with beautiful effect. Sometimes, though rarely,
he omitted them altogether, as in Plate 37, and contented himself with
modulations of pure grey that are the last word in subtlety.


Yellow background. Size [Transcriber's note: Dimension missing in
original.] × 10. Signed _Yeishi ga_.

_Plate 36._]

He produced a considerable number of notable full-size sheets depicting
single figures of women seated or kneeling, engaged in gracious
occupations such as flower-arrangement. Some of these are without
background; others have backgrounds of pale grey wash; while still
others, perhaps the finest of all, stand out against luminous yellow
grounds. One of these appears in Plate 36. In these prints is displayed
Yeishi's power to draw exquisitely the long sweeping curves of
draperies; and the strangely pensive, hieratic quality of his faces is
at its best. Their charm lies not in the brushwork, which is never as
free and bold as Kiyonaga's, but in the sentiment of remote beauty of
which these haunting curves are such pure symbols. He also produced a
number of groups of courtesans on parade, with little or no background,
after the fashion inaugurated by Koriusai and Kiyonaga. These appear
stiff beside Kiyonaga's; but they have nevertheless great charm of line
and colour. His album of the Thirty-six Poetesses, about 1800, is a
series of fantastic and gorgeous colour-dreams. His series of standing
women against chocolate or silver backgrounds rises in colour to the
level of Sharaku.

Yeishi could not, however, escape the influence of the growing
decadence. The public taste at the end of the eighteenth century was
debased by a craving for gaudy eccentricities. Utamaro led in the rush
to gratify this craving; and even the aristocratic Yeishi was unable to
resist the general decline. Therefore toward the end of his career as a
print-designer his work greatly altered. His figures grew very tall and
willowy; their necks became so exaggeratedly thin that they seem unable
to support the great pile of the coiffure; an attenuated snakyness
distinguishes their lines; and the curves of their garments are
distorted into the most fantastic folds and swirls. It was in this
period that Yeishi produced most of his large bust-portraits on yellow
or mica grounds; in these he followed the lead of Utamaro, who had
influenced him considerably during his whole career. The noble and grave
faces of his earlier days became wooden and distorted; and when Yeishi
at last stopped print-designing and returned to the life of society and
painting from which he had been so long a renegade, the loss was not a
great one; for the degradation of the age's taste had engulfed him--as,
indeed, it did all his contemporaries.

Yeishi's ordinary work is not particularly rare. Even his slightest
prints have so much charm that they may be highly recommended to the
attention of the modest collector. Yeishi's important works are of great
scarcity. His figures on yellow or mica ground, his grey prints, his
large heads, and his pillar-prints are quite as difficult to obtain as
any of the prints of this or the preceding period; his best triptychs
are extraordinarily hard to procure.


Left-hand sheet of a triptych. Printed in several tones of grey. Size 15
× 10. Signed _Yeishi ga_. Metzgar Collection.

_Plate 37._]


Of Yeishi's many pupils, Shokosai Yeisho stands out as the most
important. Nothing is known of him except that his work was done toward
the end of the eighteenth century.

[Illustration: YEISHO.]

Yeisho may be regarded as the veritable shadow of Yeishi. He wholly
adopted his master's style; but he was not able to impart to his figures
that reserved aristocratic poise which was Yeishi's distinguishing mark.
Instead, Yeisho's figures not infrequently have a certain very pleasing
and plausible elegance, fuller and rounder than his master's. His
curves sweep more assertively and less subtly; and his decorative
effects are often superb even though not particularly complex. He too
passed from the manner of Kiyonaga into that of Utamaro; but his middle
period is his most characteristic. In this he produced many fascinating
single sheets of seated or kneeling women, several admirable
pillar-prints, as in Plate 33, some large bust-portraits that are
perhaps his finest works, and a number of triptychs. These last, as a
rule, lack the element that is the real glory of the triptych--a broadly
grasped correlation of complex elements into one great harmonious
composition. Yeisho's triptychs are merely three sheets placed side by
side with only a rudimentary attempt at unification. But so completely
attractive are the separate figures and the great sweeping curves of his
best work that these triptychs are nevertheless delightful
productions--more striking than many a subtler composition. They have,
however, a stereotyped quality that makes one unwilling to take Yeisho
very seriously as an artist. His curves sweep splendidly, but they are
dominated by a formula.

Yeisho's works are not common; they are far rarer than Yeishi's. Yeisho
may serve to illustrate the difficulty of appraising these artists. I
had hardly written the foregoing estimate of Yeisho when I received as a
gift from a friend a large bust-portrait of a woman by Yeisho which is
so unexpectedly magnificent and so much finer than any work of Yeisho's
I had ever seen that my previous opinion had to be modified. In subtlety
of line and delicacy of colour this head is at least equal to Utamaro's
finest works in the same manner; it utterly contradicts my previous
impression of Yeisho's stereotyped quality. Now, what has happened to me
in the case of Yeisho is happening to students of Japanese prints every
day; and not until the last secreted treasure is brought to light and
made known can we be confident that we are even approximately right in
the ranks which we assign to the various designers.


Yeishi's vigour, barely sufficient to create his own exquisite works,
could not transmit itself to any very vital body of pupils. Though his
disciples were many, no one of them achieved independent renown; the
seeds of life were not in the teacher. Out of a large number, the
following pupils may be named as the most important:--

ICHIRAKUTEI YEISUI, of whom nothing is known, inherited from his master
an elegance of line that is often pleasing. He cannot, however, be
regarded as an important or original artist. His large bust-portraits,
with charming piquant faces, are his best-known works. His prints are
rare but not especially sought after.

GOKYO, an interesting artist who probably died young, worked in the same
manner as Yeishi. His prints, soft and pleasing in colour, are very rare
indeed; the few known examples of his work have a distinction worthy of
more attention than they have hitherto received. Had he lived he might
have given the school of Yeishi a fresh fame.

YEIRI, of whom not much is known, sometimes signed himself "Yeishi's
pupil Yeiri." He is to be distinguished from the almost contemporaneous
Rekisenti Yeiri. The latter worked more in the style of Utamaro; his
work is rare, and his finest prints are beautiful and valuable. It was
Yeishi's pupil Yeiri who created that rare and astonishing portrait of
Kitao Masanobu which must take a place beside the most brilliant
portraiture of any time or land.

YEISHIN is known only by half a dozen prints; these, though attractive,
are not as greatly prized as their scarcity might lead one to expect.

CHOTENSAI YEIJU is a slightly stiff and not very interesting disciple
whose work is rare.

YEICHO also is notable chiefly for his rarity.

YEIRU followed his master with little originality.

YEIKI and SŌRAKU are later unimportant pupils who followed Utamaro also.


_Portrait of a Woman._

      In robes like clouds of sunset rolled
    About the dying sun,
    In splendid vesture of purple and gold
    That a thousand toiling days have spun
    For thee, O imperial one!--

      With the cunning pomp of the later years,
    With their pride and glory and stress,
    Thou risest; and thy calm forehead bears
    These like a crown; but thy frail mouth wears
    All of their weariness.

      Thou art one of the great who mayest stand
    Where Cleopatra stood:
    Aspasia, Rhodope, at each hand;
    And even the proud tempestuous mood
    Of Sappho shall rule thy blood.

      Thy throat, in its slender whiteness bare,
    Seems powerless to sustain
    The gorgeous tower of thy gold-decked hair--
    Like a lily's stem which the autumn air
    Maketh to shrink and wane.

      More haunting music, more luring love
    Round thy sinuous form hold sway
    Than the daughters of earth have knowledge of
    For thou art the daughter of fading day,
    Touched with all hope's decay.

      And the subtle languor, the prismic glow
    Of a ripeness overpast
    Burns through the wonderful curving flow
    Of thy garments; and they who love thee know
    A loathing at the last.

      For they are the lovers of living things--
    Stars, sunlight, morning's breath;
    But thou, for all that thy beauty brings
    Such songs as the summer scattereth--
    Thou art of the House of Death.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      But there was one in thy golden day
    Who saw thy poppied bloom,
    And loved not thee but the heart's decay
    That filled thee, and clasped it to be alway
    His chosen and sealèd doom.

      He who this living portrait wrought,
    Outlasting time's control,
    A dark and bitter nectar sought
    Welling from poisoned streams that roll
    Through deserts of the soul.

      Ah, dreamer! come at last where dreams
    Can serve no more thy need,
    Who hast by such bright silver streams
    Walked with thy soul that now earth seems
    A waste where love must bleed--

      Thou whom such matchless beauty filled
    Of visions frail and lone,
    For thee all passion now is stilled;
    Thy heart, denied the life it willed,
    Desireth rather none.

      And thee allure no verdant blooms
    That with fresh joy suspire;
    But blossoms touched with coming glooms,
    And weariness, and spent desire,
    Draw to thy spirit nigher.

      Wherefore is nothing in thy sight
    Propitious save it be
    Brushed with the wings of hovering night,
    Worn with the shadow of delight,
    Sad with satiety.

      For thou hast enmity toward all
    The servants of life's breath;
    One mistress holdeth thee in thrall,
    And them thou lovest who her call
    Answer; and she is Death.

    .     .     .     .     .     .

      Now Death thy ruined city's streets
    Walketh, a grisly queen.
    And there her sacred horror greets
    Him who invades these waste retreats,
    Her sacrosanct demesne--

      In robes like clouds at sunset rolled
    About the dying sun,
    In splendid vestments of purple and gold
    That a thousand perished years have spun
    For her, the Imperial One.

Utamaro, the central and in some ways the most fascinating figure of
this period, has been from the first a great favourite in the esteem of
European collectors. His graceful, sinuous women are the images that
come most readily to the minds of many people at the mention of Japanese
prints. In his own time and land his popularity was equalled by that of
no other artist.

[Illustration: UTAMARO.]

It was by his portraits of women that Utamaro won his great fame.
Passing outside the influence of Kiyonaga, he developed in his designs
of the last decade of the nineteenth century his characteristic feminine
type. Her strange and languid beauty, the drooping lines of her robes,
her unnatural slenderness and willowiness, are the emanations of
Utamaro's feverish mind; as her creator he ranks as the most brilliant,
the most sophisticated, and the most poetical designer of his time. His
life was spent in alternation between his workshop and the haunts of the
Yoshiwara, whose beautiful inhabitants he immortalized in prints that
are the ultimate expression of the mortal body's longing for a more than
mortal perfection of happiness. Wearied of every common pleasure, he
created these visions in whose disembodied, morbid loveliness his
overwrought desires found consolation.


Mica background. Size 12½ × 9. Signed _Utamaro, hitsu_. Chandler

_Plate 38._]

Utamaro was born in 1753 in the province of Musachi. Early in life he
went to Yedo and there studied under the noted Kano painter and
book-illustrator Toriyama Sekiyen, whom some authorities say was his
father. Almost from the beginning of his career he lived with the famous
publisher Tsutaya, who issued his prints; and this relation continued up
to the date of Tsutaya's death in 1797.

In Utamaro's early work, which began with an illustrated book in 1776,
the influence of Kiyonaga was strong. Shunsho's and Kitao Masanobu's
characteristics are sometimes also visible, but Kiyonaga's style is the
dominating one. Some of his early work is signed Toyoaki.

In 1780 the first important product of Utamaro's career saw the
light--his famous "Gifts of the Ebb-Tide"--a book of exquisitely
conceived and delicately printed representations of shells and rocks on
the seashore. The effort of a trained conchologist to produce accurate
descriptive drawings of these objects could hardly achieve a more
scrupulous fidelity than do these pages, which have in addition an
æsthetic charm of a high order. The same characteristic appears in his
celebrated "Insect Book" of 1788. These two works, dominated by a
scientific realism that was new to Ukioye, may serve as an indication of
the growth of that naturalistic spirit whose effect upon the stylistic
ideals of the art was later to be so destructive.

In the decade between 1780 and 1790 Utamaro produced many additional
books. Notable among them are the "Customs of New Year's Day" (1786),
"The Mad Full Moon," a series of lovely moonlight landscapes in
monochrome (1789), and "The Silver World," a series of delicate snow
scenes (1790). The single-sheet prints which he issued during this
decade are exceedingly beautiful works of a type that the inexperienced
eye would never recognize as Utamaro's. The figures are like those of
Kiyonaga's prime, but drawn with a slenderness of line and restlessness
of poise that strikes a different and shriller note. His work of this
period may be distinguished by the fact that the signature is written in
a squarer, more compact, and more formal manner than the sprawling,
cursive signature of his later days. The two long, tail-like lines of
the later signature, by which even the casual tourist learns to
recognize Utamaro's name, are wholly absent.

With 1790 begins the classic period of Utamaro's work. This was the year
of Kiyonaga's retirement and, according to some authorities, of
Shunsho's death. With the two giants of the older generation gone,
Utamaro was left to compete for leadership with Yeishi, Shuncho, Choki,
Toyokuni, and the lesser men. During the decade from 1790 to 1800
Utamaro was, except for the isolated figure of Sharaku, outstandingly
the most versatile and brilliant among them. All were profoundly
influenced by him, and he had not a few imitators who attempted to
profit by his popularity.


One of a Series "Beautiful Women compared with the Fifty-three Stations
of the Tokaido Road." Size 15 × 10. Signed _Utamaro, hitsu_.

_Plate 39._]

During this last decade of the nineteenth century Utamaro produced the
greatest of his works. Among these must be counted the remarkable series
of half-length figures on silver backgrounds, for which no admiration
can be too extreme. One of them appears in Plate 38. The type of face
which Utamaro drew in these prints differs from the Kiyonaga type; it
has something of the girlishness of Harunobu or Sukenobu--wholesome,
rounded, with eyes that are large and not narrowed to slits as in his
later years, and with coiffure of modest proportions. It resembles the
type characteristic of Choki at this time. These charming figures, drawn
with subtle precision, stand against their dull silver backgrounds in
colours whose few and soft tones produce an effect so harmonious as to
almost justify Von Seidlitz in calling Utamaro "the first colourist of
his nation." The prints of this class are as rare as they are beautiful.
The collector who is familiar with nothing but the later work of the
artist can have only an imperfect conception of the greatness of
Utamaro. They constitute the purest and most tranquil of his
productions, and perhaps the high point of his genius.

This 1790 decade, when Utamaro was at the zenith of his powers, saw many
triumphs besides the silver-portraits. He was incessantly busy with
experiments of every kind; pushed by the keen competition of Yeishi,
Choki, and the others, he laboured incessantly for new effects and
passed on to new manners. Plates 39 and 41 are examples. Discarding the
type of head that had appeared in the silver-portraits, he devised that
more restless, haunting type by which we best know him. The ethereal and
supple bodies, the slender necks, the slightly strained poses, all
indicate the nervous hyper-æsthetic tension of the hour. Toward the end
of the decade his peculiarities grew even more marked. The necks of his
figures became incredibly slender; the bodies took on unnatural length;
a snaky languor pervaded them. One print, his famous "Woman Seated on
the Edge of a Veranda," reproduced in Plate 40, may serve as
representative of them all. The drawing of the draperies and of the
figure beneath them is studied with extraordinary fidelity; in fact, so
human and real a figure is hardly to be found in the work of any
preceding artist. But on the other hand, Utamaro has used his keen
realistic power merely as a scaffolding, and has proceeded to build up
on it a work that goes over almost into the region of symbolism. In the
slender delicacy of this figure, the splendid black of her elaborate
coiffure, the drooping fragility of her body, the sensuous grace and
refinement, the languor and exhaustion--in all these speak the
super-sensible gropings and hungers of Utamaro himself. Out of a living
woman he created his disturbing symbol of the impossible desires that
are no less subtle or painful because they are born of the flesh. With
nerves keyed beyond the healthy pitch, he dreamed this melody whose
strange minor chords alone could stir the satiated spirit. He caught and
idealized the lines and colours of mortal weariness.


Size 13 × 8. Signed _Utamaro, hitsu_.

_Plate 40._]

"Woman," says Von Seidlitz, "had always played a prominent part in the
popular art of the country, but now Utamaro placed one type of the sex
in the absolute centre of all attention--the type, namely, of the
courtesan initiated into all the refinements of mental culture as
well as of bodily enchantment, and then playing in the life of Japan
such a part as she must have played in Hellas during the golden age of
Greek civilization. For expressing the inexpressible, the simple
rendering of nature did not suffice; the figures must needs be
lengthened to give the impression of supernatural beings; they must have
a pliancy enabling them to express vividly the tenderest as well as the
most intense emotions of the soul; lastly, they must be endowed with a
wholly peculiar and therefore affected language for uttering the wholly
peculiar sensations that filled them.... It is true that soon after he
yielded to the general tendency of his age ... and gradually insisted on
these attributes to exaggeration, even to impossibility, while his fame
of having been the first to give such morbid inclinations completely
satisfactory and therefore unsurpassable expression is a title of
somewhat doubtful value, even if in any case a high historical
significance cannot be denied it. Nevertheless, we must not forget that
within this domain of the hyper-æsthetic Utamaro was the creator of a
most original and individual style. Nay, if we could only admit the
morbid and exaggerated to be as fit subject-matter for art as the
healthy and sane, we must grant that this style is one of altogether
enchanting originality, and that, however dangerous might be its
immediate influence upon the spectator, and particularly upon possible
successors, it does none the less lift us beyond the cramping limits of
reality, and is therefore not wanting in idealism of a kind."

But weary as seems the spiritual content of these end-of-the-century
designs of Utamaro's, there is no lack of brilliant vigour in their
composition. The great triptychs--such as the "Night Festival on the
Banks of the Sumida River," or the "Firefly Catchers," or the "Persimmon
Pickers"--stand among the finest prints we know. In colour, rhythm of
line, and dramatic quality of composition they are triumphs. There is a
startling beauty in even those extraordinary bust-portraits in which the
enormous coiffure, minute neck, slips of eyes, and dot of a mouth, carry
exaggeration to a bizarre and delirious extreme.

Not long after 1800 the pressure of work brought upon him by his great
popularity, together with the effects of a none too well spent life in
the Yoshiwara, combined to strain his powers unduly. His work no longer
kept its earlier freshness; his exaggerations became coarser; his
invention grew less fertile. He began to rely on the assistance of his
pupils, as we know from his "Book of the Green Houses" (1804), in which
several collaborated with him. Doubtless many an Utamaro print of this
time is their work.

In the year 1804 came the final catastrophe. Consequent upon the
publication of the well-known triptych representing the ancient Shogun
Hideyoshi entertaining his five concubines in the eastern quarter of the
capital, the ruling Shogun Iyenari took umbrage at the salacious
disrespect to his ancestor and the delicately implied allusion to
himself, and Utamaro was thrown into prison for his offence. There he
remained, it is said, for a year; when he emerged, it was with impaired
health and a broken spirit.


Left-hand sheet of a triptych. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Utamaro, hitsu_.

_Plate 41._]

His productions after this time were not comparable with his earlier
work. In the year 1806 he died, and with him died the great days of the
Japanese print.

In this rapid survey it has been impossible to do justice to the
many-sided powers of this great designer. His beautiful landscapes, his
fine animal pictures, the tender and whimsical mother-and-child and
domestic scenes he produced, have all had to be ignored in favour of his
central achievements--his unparalleled designs of the courtesan of the
Yoshiwara in her weary glory. Certainly no more varied and distinguished
talent than his illumines the roll of Ukioye artists. Beside his
perpetually fresh invention even the great Kiyonaga seems stereotyped
and academic.

To-day the poorer examples of Utamaro's work are still readily
procurable. His greatest works are rare. Certain of his triptychs, his
silver half-length portraits, and his large heads on mica backgrounds,
are very uncommon. But with patience and judgment the collector may
still obtain now and then a fine specimen of Utamaro's work.

But some care is necessary. Even during Utamaro's life his work was
forged by unscrupulous persons who hoped to reap the benefit of his
popularity; and his pupils, under his direction, produced an unknown
quantity of work signed with his name. After his death, from about 1808
to 1820, the Second Utamaro worked in the manner of his predecessor,
issuing work that cannot with certainty be distinguished from the late
work of the master. Besides these perils there is the fact that
Utamaro's prints have been well reproduced in recent years; and
reproductions are sometimes put forward as originals by ignorant or
dishonest dealers. Considerable familiarity with authentic examples of
Utamaro's best work, or expert advice, can alone protect the would-be


Though Utamaro's influence upon his contemporaries was incalculably
great, he left behind him a body of pupils who were almost without
exception rather insignificant artists. With cruder colour and
composition, they carried still farther the vulgarities of Utamaro's
declining period. Among them may be mentioned the following men:--

UTAMARO II, whose original name was Koikawa Shuncho or Harumachi, was a
pupil of Sekiyen; he married Utamaro's widow, and from about 1808 to
1820 continued to produce prints in the debased Utamaro manner. Dr.
Kurth believes he must be distinguished from another Koikawa Shuncho
whose family name was Kurahashi, and who died in 1789. The whole matter
is by no means clear.

BANKI and SHIKIMARO were among the best of this group. Particularly the
former, before Utamaro's death, produced some fine work.

TAMAGAWA SHUCHO was a rare pupil of Utamaro who worked about 1790 to

all be classed as late followers, fellow-pupils, or rivals of Utamaro.

BUNRO, some of whose work is fine, was a rare imitator of Utamaro. He
worked chiefly about 1800 to 1810.


_Dramatic Portrait._

      Whence art thou come,
    Tall figure clasping to thy tragic breast
    Thy orange robe, a flame amid the gloom--
    By what wild doom
    Art thou forever onward--onward pressed?

      A wreath is on thy brow,
    A crown of leafage from some lonely haunt
    Where might Medea's shade brood ministrant.
    Thy shoulders bow
    Beneath what fearful weight, what need, what vow?

      A leopard fierce--
    A ghost that wanders down the wandering wind--
    A fury tracking toward some shaken mind--
    Where shall I find
    The divination that thy veil shall pierce?

      How shall I wrest
    From thee the secret of thy lofty doom--
    From what wild gulf of midnight thou dost come
    Who, with clutched breast,
    Stalkest forever onward--onward pressed?

Few people approach Sharaku's work for the first time without regarding
him as a repulsive charlatan, the creator of perversely and senselessly
ugly portraits whose cross-eyes, impossible mouths, and snaky gestures
have not the slightest claim to be called art. At first these strange
pictures may even seem mirth-provoking to the spectator--a view of them
which he will remember in later years with almost incredulous wonder. To
overcome one's original feeling of repulsion may take a long time; but
to every serious student of Japanese prints there comes at last a day
when he sees these portraits with different eyes; and suddenly the
consciousness is born in him that Sharaku stands on the highest level of
genius, in a greatness unique, sublime, and appalling.

[Illustration: TOSHIUSAI SHARAKU.]

Toshiusai Sharaku is a figure more shadowy than most, even in this
region of shadows. The wilful neglect of a public that hated him has
folded him in a mystery deeper than the mere accidental obscurations of
time. Of his birth and death we know absolutely nothing, nor of the name
of his teacher, if he had one. The resemblance between his work and that
of Shunyei cannot be fully explained until we know more accurately their
relative dates. Kiyonaga's noble drawing certainly affected his
style. The influence of Shunsho upon his colour-schemes is fairly
obvious; but we do not know whether this was due to personal contact, or
only to familiarity with Shunsho's work. The one indisputable fact about
Sharaku is that he was originally a Nō-performer in the troupe of the
Daimyo of Awa. The Japanese authorities state that he worked at
print-designing only one or two years, somewhere between 1790 and 1795.
Dr. Kurth, in his stimulating but somewhat too imaginative volume,
"Sharaku," believes that the evidence justifies us in fixing Sharaku's
working period as a much longer time--1787 to 1795; but he cannot be
said to have wholly proved his case. Whether or not these dates are
accurate, we may at least say that Sharaku's years of activity lay
chiefly within the early part of the last decade of the eighteenth


Silver background. Size 14 × 10. Signed _Toshiusai Shakaru ga_.
Spaulding Collection.

_Plate 42._]

Sharaku's work consisted entirely of startlingly powerful and ironic
portraits of actors, some in the form of large bust-portraits, some in
the form of full-length figures of _hoso-ye_ size, and a few large
sheets each containing two full-length figures. Their savage intensity
is arresting and unforgettable; it at once drives one to consider what
manner of man could have created them.

Sharaku was, as we have said, professionally a member of the Nō-troupe
of the Daimyo of Awa. This fact is of far-reaching significance.

The Nō was a highly developed and aristocratic form of lyrical drama,
based upon ancient and classical legends; it was full of a poetry and
allusiveness that made it incomprehensible to the populace, who,
indeed, had no opportunity to see it; it was as much the exclusive
concern of the cultured aristocracy as the private revival of a Greek
tragedy is with us to-day. In brocaded costumes, perhaps the treasured
reliques of centuries ago, the Nō-dancer appeared upon his empty stage
before a hushed audience of nobles--his face masked, as were the faces
of the Greek actors, his voice lifted to an unnatural pitch of vibrant
chaunting; and with stately motions, elaborately devised steps, and
stereotyped gestures, he intoned the rolling strophes of the drama's
long and hallowed strain. A complex formalism pervaded every word and
step; in no art-form with which I am familiar is an accepted convention,
a totally unrealistic medium, so rigidly adhered to as in these

The Nō-actors were a caste utterly apart from the actors of the common
stage. They were the protégés and associates of great nobles who would
not, save incognito, appear in the presence of the common actor. The gap
between the two classes of actors was as great as that between Sir
Johnston Forbes-Robertson and a juggler at a fair--one, the inheritor of
a distinguished literary tradition, the interpreter of our classic
dramatic heritage; the other, a crude beguiler of the populace, with
station no higher than the pedlar. Caste-feeling may very well have been
rather harsh between the haughty Nō-performers and their despised and
ostracized brothers of the gutter.

As we have noted, the Nō-dancer wore a mask; these masks are creations
of the greatest interest. They are carved out of wood, frequently with
a skill that makes them striking works of art. It is impossible to
convey in words the remarkable degree of characterization which they
express. The smooth guilelessness of the young girl, the deep wrinkles
of the old man, the leer of the rascal, the savagery of the villain, are
all in their turn summarized in these haunting representations whose
simplicity of outline is matched only by their intensity of effect.
Nature seems to speak in them--but a heightened nature, stripped of all
incidentals; the very essence of the character of the rôle is revealed
to our eyes the instant the actor, wearing his impressive and vivid
mask, steps upon the stage.

Bearing these things in mind, we may follow Dr. Kurth ("Sharaku,"
München, 1910) in his imaginative summary of the probable effects of the
calling of a Nō-dancer upon the mind and art of Sharaku:--

"Picture a richly endowed painter--at first only dimly conscious of his
powers--as in a mystery-play he treads the consecrated stage in the
sacred precincts of a temple of Tokushima or in the shadow of the
cryptomerias and firs of the Hachisuka castle--a fantastic mask covering
his features, other masked spectres before his eyes--surrounded by the
atmosphere of the occult tradition of ancient and lofty dramatic
art--while, in the depths of his soul's abysses, chained Titans would
storm up to the outer world, and confused pictures of his future
creations hover before his spirit, ... and we shall realize that this
man, as a painter, must become a dramaturgist.

"And if we summon to our vision the gorgeous stretches of Awa--its
chasmy mountains with the forests rustling around them--its picturesque
sea-lapped beaches--its sun-drenched groves of oak--its glowing scarlet
maples--the brilliant flowers of its Spring--the evergreens of its
Winter--then we shall realize that this man, as a painter, must become a

"Brooding spirit that he was, he, an Edipus, approached venturously to
the Sphinx of passion that peers forth from the faces of men. Uncanny
powers lurked in the grotesque furrows and demoniac grimaces of his
Nō-masks, but nothing little or shallow--nay, in spite of all
grotesqueness, only the significant and symbolic. And then he looked
down from his buskined height upon the popular actors--bombastic
barn-stormers--greasy low-comedians--louts from nowhere, as the
illustrious Harunobu had called them--performers who brought before
their gaping audience not, as did he, august things in strangely
wonderful guise, but often things far too human in strutting stage-pomp.
He looked upon them, a guild not only despised but sometimes even
outlawed--a guild that stood on the same plane as the idiotic profession
of the wrestler,--a class whose vulgar faces could not hide their
swaggering gutter-vanity and their cringing lust for applause behind
even the red paint of the ferocious warrior-rôle or the corpse-coloured
rice-powder used when aping women. And if we see him thus, we shall
understand that this man, as a painter of actors, must eventually become
a pitiless satirist."

It was therefore with the colossal and tragic gestures of the Nō-dance
in his soul, the distorted and monumental intensity of the Nō-masks in
his eyes, and the contempt and irony of the Nō-performer for the common
actor in his heart, that Sharaku, coming to Yedo, took up his terrible
brush to depict the Yedo actors as he saw them. The resulting series of
portraits is surely one of the supreme examples of graphic
characterization and devastating contempt that the world has ever seen.

In the earlier portion of Sharaku's work, among which are his large
portraits on yellow backgrounds, the originality of the man is already
striking enough; but his acid qualities are hardly at their fullest
development. Certain of his _hoso-ye_ prints must belong to this first
period; in these, after the manner of Shunsho, he devoted his attention
chiefly to the attaining of a powerful dramatic rendering of the rôle he
was depicting. Strutting Daimyo, beguiling woman, ferocious warrior,
shrewd peasant--he made each part move with the vigour and force of the
seen stage. Shunsho was never more impressive; and here, in addition,
there is in every design a strange distortion of line, a disturbing
abnormality of pose, that makes one realize that no mere copyist of
Shunsho is at hand.

Then, beginning with an astounding series of twenty-four portraits with
mica backgrounds (Plates 42, 43, 44) representing actors in the play of
the Forty-seven Ronin, Sharaku's mood changes. He ceases to remind one
at all of Shunsho; it is rather the scrutinizing individual
characterization of Shunyei that he recalls. But Shunyei never reached
the point to which Sharaku is now coming. The dramatic force, the
histrionic illusion of his pictures abates no jot; but beyond it,
disturbing lights and movements are lurking. The mighty rôle towers like
a shadow before us in its full dramatic sweep; but from the depths of
the shadow peers with stealthy glance the indwelling personality of the
actor--like a jackal's eyes seen suddenly in a king's tomb. This
contradiction--this complex of two utterly antagonistic forces--is one
of the miracles of Sharaku's genius: it is an antinomy which he resolves
sufficiently to produce an equilibrium, but not enough to take from
these portraits the insoluble mystery of two spirits, the tangle of two
meanings, the explosive and inscrutable life that makes them

Thus the sweeping rhetoric of the stately rôle and the sudden
naturalistic cry of the discovered actor's soul meet in a discord
unique, subtly calculated, magnificent, and harrowing. Sharaku pierced
deep into the hearts of his sitters to grasp the weak, the grotesque,
the pathetic, the tragic; he appraised the lust, the horror, the vacuity
that was there, and these qualities he dragged out to the light through
the avenues by which he had entered--through the eyes, the lips, the
hands--tearing these gates into terrible and distorted breaches eloquent
of the booty that had been forced through them. No portraits so blasting
as his have ever been created by another; no other hand has so
devastatingly shattered the conventional contours of faces to reshape
them into the awful images of their own hidden potentialities.


Size 14 × 10. Silver background. Signed _Toshiusai Sharaku ga_.

_Plate 43._]

To call Sharaku a realist is a silly, untruthful attempt to muffle in
words forces that one does not understand. He was hardly more a realist
than Kiyonaga. He saw in the spectacle before him certain elements of
beauty and terror; he selected and moulded them into his cunningly
devised designs; and the result was as much a creation of the visionary
mind--a true idealism--as the pictures of the fairy-tale-telling
Harunobu. It is no mere realism, but an insidious dissection and a
mordant reconstruction, that is so striking in these works. The most
savage efforts of modern caricature are child's play beside Sharaku's
disintegrating analysis and his satanic reassembling of features. He
does to the face and its concealed passions what Michael Angelo's
anatomical figure does to the nerves and muscles--revealing appallingly
the secrets of structure and the machinery of power.

Yet, in spite of all the distortions and exaggerations and
displacements, Sharaku's satyrical faces live. They have an unnatural
and monstrous life--like the life of Gothic gargoyles and fabulous
animals, whose parts are brought together into an incredible yet organic
creation. Looking upon them, one realizes that for Sharaku beauty meant
not sweetness or grace, but vitality--the clench and rending of the
earthquake forces of life. He sought no harmonies of sentiment like
those of Harunobu; he plunged wholly into a maelstrom of powers whose
magnificent surge and flow was to him the sole end and the sole

He drew no courtesans, no scenes from the daily life of the people, no
festivals, no tea-house gardens by the river; but with a baleful
concentration he, the proud master of the esoteric Nō drama, kept his
eyes fixed unswervingly upon the pathetic mimes of the vulgar
stage--outcasts, common lumps strutting for an hour of glory in gorgeous
robes and heroic rôles before a gaping populace. How one longs for one
more work from Sharaku's hands--a portrait of himself, seated in the
stalls, watching the play at its height! One can almost imagine the
peering eyes, the tight lips, the hidden hands....

So far I have spoken chiefly of the large heads of Sharaku. But it must
not be forgotten that he produced a number of designs in _hoso-ye_ form
that are the very flower of his work. Kurth places certain of these
early in Sharaku's career; he is, perhaps, wrong in this, for many of
those which he thus dates give evidence of an art so mature and
masterful that they must be at least contemporaneous with the Ronin
Series. Such are the print of Arashi Ryūzō as an aged noble in robe of
black with violet girdle, and the print of Segawa Kikusabrō in robe of
olive and purple holding an open fan. In the finest of these _hoso-ye_
the dramatic force of the composition is so subtle that the element of
caricature takes a subordinate place. A lyric mood pervades them. It is
impossible to contemplate these figures without a sense, not merely of
the irony and contempt which they sometimes embody, but also of the
tragic heights on which they move. Lofty conflicts, desperate destinies,
immense strainings toward desired goals, immense despairs before
impassable barriers--these are some of the emotions that confront us
here. The echo of the tragedy of the Greeks is around them; their
gestures seem the shadows of titanic cataclysms. Kiyonaga gave us the
gods; Sharaku gives us those who fought against the gods. If it were my
fortune to choose, out of the tens of thousands of prints that I have
seen, one print which could alone be saved from some impending universal
destruction, I am not sure whether I would take Harunobu's flawless
"Flute Player," or Kiyonaga's serene "Terrace by the Sea," or that
terrible print of Sharaku's, illustrated in both Kurth and the catalogue
of the exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in which the
orange-robed figure of Nakayama Tomisabrō stalks by with an intensity of
passion that makes one's flesh creep--a vibrancy of line, colour, and
emotion that seems the apogee of beauty and terror.


Silver background. Size 14 × 10. Signed _Toshiusai Sharaku ga_.
Ainsworth Collection.

_Plate 44._]

The _hoso-ye_ prints have, upon the whole, more poise and serenity than
the busts; and they will perhaps be judged--in a hundred years, when the
excitement of the discovery of Sharaku is over--to be among his greatest
works. When they occur in triptychs, as probably all were originally
designed to do, they constitute more harmonious and dramatic units than
any of Shunsho's actor-triptychs. The finest, and latest in order of
production, are generally those without background; in these, isolated
and sublime against an empty universe of yellow tint, rise the supreme
evocations of Sharaku's genius.

Great distinction of composition marks all of Sharaku's work. Both the
_hoso-ye_ and the large bust-portraits are drawn with classic simplicity
of lines and masses. Nothing short of certain of the Primitives can
approach them. Every superfluous ornament is omitted; as in Plate 43,
each line is cut down to its meagrest possible limit. But the
expressiveness of the drawing is unsurpassable; and the æsthetic effect
of the direct composition grows with every repeated sight. These strange
heads against the dark glimmering backgrounds seem Titans rooted in the
void; they loom upon one's vision enormously; they are overwhelming with
the spiritual greatness of their creator. In spite of all the disturbing
unquietness of their conflicts, they are charged with a monumental
equilibrium of design, sealed with an exalted peace of conception,
poised as for eternity with the repose of measureless space and time
around them. At first sight, one would imagine these portraits to be
impossibly restless things to live with; but greater familiarity proves
them to be like the Sibyls of the Sistine Chapel--vast and enduring
figures, whose large passion does not obliterate the fundamental
tranquillity of their conception.

The colour which Sharaku employs is of a unique quality: sombre, with
lurid lights; heavy and opaque; nightmare colours, leashed into
miraculous and incredible harmony; things of infernal and dusky
splendour; "tragic colours," Kurth calls them. The dark mica
backgrounds, which Sharaku is said, without much proof, to have
invented, heighten to a remarkable degree his colour effects. Words and
reproductions are alike powerless to convey any sense of them; they hold
in store an impressive sensation for him who has not yet seen them.
With them Sharaku takes first rank as a colourist.

Toward the end of his brief career, his portraits became almost too
terrible in their savage and tragic irony. In the large double-portraits
Sharaku tears the mask of humanity aside and shows the very beast. Yet
to call even these most extreme of his productions caricatures is to
obscure a subtle spiritual essence by a crude word. They are exactly as
comic as the ravings of Lear, as mirth-provoking as the laments of
Shylock. They are not the light mocking of a scoffer or a comedian, but
the appalling and tortured sneer of a man whose vision of men is
coloured by his desire for the gods.

"Because he did not represent reality, but on the contrary painted
unnatural figures, the public became hostile toward him."... "His
figures were too realistic."... "He was a bungler in art."... From
these conflicting criticisms, found in various Japanese authorities, we
may gather with what comprehension the public of that day accepted the
final work of the great painter; and we may conjecture what neglect and
hatred forced him into a never-broken retirement.

Dr. Kurth is of the opinion that, after the year 1795, Sharaku still
continued to produce secretly a few prints under the assumed name of
Kabukidō Yenkyō, and attempted under this disguise to win back the
popularity of his prime. This is an alluring but somewhat fantastic
theory, which neither the documentary nor the internal evidence of
Yenkyō's work adequately supports. Other authorities believe Yenkyō to
have been an independent artist who was a pupil of Sharaku. His work
strangely resembles that of Kunimasa I. At the present time it cannot be
said that the question is wholly settled; but it would be rash to accept
Kurth's theory at its face value.

In conclusion, let us grant that Sharaku is not for every one. One
cannot quarrel with a person who says, "I understand Sharaku; I see the
measureless depths of his tragic irony, the unique splendour of his
colour, the perfect mastery of his composition. But I do not like him. I
prefer Kiyonaga, just as I prefer the stately beauty of Keats to the
troubled profundity of Blake." Such a position is comprehensible and
impregnable. But he who finds Sharaku merely grotesque or absurd or
repellent should return to the portraits for further study; he has not
yet reached the immortal heart of Sharaku's work, and he is missing a
memorable experience.

Exact comparisons are profitless; but most students of Japanese prints
have at certain times turned from the work of Sharaku with the deep
conviction that this man was the greatest genius of them all.

Sharaku's output was not large, and his work is now of the utmost
rarity. The Parisian collectors long ago recognized Sharaku's greatness,
and at a time when Fenollosa was proclaiming Sharaku as an
"arch-purveyor of vulgarities," and Strange was grudgingly describing
him in seven lines as an artist "of great power but little grace," the
collectors of Paris had already acquired such Sharaku treasures as are
now a lavish and deserved reward for their foresight. Perhaps the only
collection of Sharaku prints that can rival those of Paris is the
notable Spaulding Collection of Boston, which takes high rank.


_A Silver Print._

      The sky, a plate of darkened steel,
    Weighs on the far rim of the sea,
    Save where the lifted glooms reveal
    The last edge of the sun burned free.
    Blood-red, it drops departingly.

      And in the nightmare or the hour,
    Against the terrible sea and sky,
    A woman's figure--a strange flower--
    Lingers. Her wearied, curious eye
    Watches the burning world go by.

Though Choki is probably not to be counted as one of the few supremely
great artists of the Ukioye School, his fame has been steadily
increasing during the last twenty years; and whereas he once held an
insignificant place in the esteem of amateurs, he has of late been
regarded with an interest and admiration that at times seem almost more
than his deserts. Mr. Strange calls him the most graceful of all the
figure-designers of his time, and Kurth does not hesitate to deal with
him as "mit einem Riesengroszen." I note in Kurth a tendency to exalt an
artist because of his proficiency in technical processes, to an extent
that I cannot assent to; Choki was superb, but hardly Titanic. It would
be difficult to characterize him more justly than in the words of M.
Koechlin, "Le plus curieux des petits maîtres." This description
certainly does not err on the side of over-enthusiasm; perhaps these are
rather lukewarm words to apply to a grace so exquisite, a precision so
sharp, and a spiritual appeal so strangely alluring as that of Choki.

[Illustration: CHOKI.]

Absolutely nothing is known of Yeishōsai Choki's life; it is believed
that he was a pupil of Sekiyen, who also taught Utamaro. The Japanese
authorities are inexplicably silent about him. Internal evidence,
however, tells us that his work lies between the years 1785 and 1805.
His earliest designs are strongly after the manner of Kiyonaga, whose
feminine types he at first adopted almost literally. These he modified
somewhat a little later when he came under the influence of Yeishi,
whose slender and delicate figures led him away from the robust ones of
Kiyonaga. One of Choki's pillar-prints, illustrated in Plate 45, marks
an interesting transition stage. The face and figure seem at first sight
almost purely of the Kiyonaga variety, but on closer examination
differences appear; and most striking of all is the fact that the
colour-scheme is that peculiar combination of yellow, grey, violet,
blue, and black which was distinctive of some of Yeishi's finest work.
The influence of Sharaku on Choki was at some time very strong,
though the precise date is almost impossible to determine. So great was
Choki's admiration for this master that later, when he had arrived at
his own distinctive manner, he produced a pillar-print of a girl holding
a fan on which appears Sharaku's famous design of "The Man with the
Pipe." But Choki followed no one else as badly as he did Sharaku; though
he appears to have learned things that were of great value to him later,
his immediate imitations of the great ironist reduced the superb effects
of the latter to the level of caricatures and dissipated the effect of
concentrated force which marks his work. Utamaro proved a more congenial
influence; and in Choki's earlier prints there are many traces of the
grace, though not of the versatility, of that artist.


Size 26 × 4½. Signed _Choki ga_.


Size 24 × 5. Signed _Kubo Shunman ga_.

_Plate 45._]

About 1790 there came out of this series of imitations a curious blended
type, which finally became Choki's distinctive own. This type is a
composite of Kiyonaga, Yeishi, and Sharaku, but ultimately unlike any of
them in its effect. The lower part of the face is prominent; the neck is
elongated and wonderfully delicate; about the eyes there is a narrowing
that is unusual. These figures of Choki's are distinguished by a
precision in drawing so sharp as to be almost an affectation, and by a
grace half of whose unique fascination is produced by some strangeness
of gesture, some keenness of characterization, or some unusual angle of
vision. Few examples of Choki's work in this manner survive; but they
are sufficient to lift his reputation from that of a copyist to that of
a notable creator of women's portraits. Woman was his great theme. "Er
hat ihrem Liebreiz das Hohelied der Japanischen Malerei überhaupt
gesungen," says Kurth, in a burst of enthusiasm for these subtle
designs. His most striking works in this manner, and perhaps the
greatest of all his works, are undoubtedly his half-length figures on
mica or silver backgrounds. Of the fascination of these rare prints it
is impossible to gain any idea from a reproduction. They rise into the
world of the miraculous; they are pure incantations. Such sheets as the
famous "Fireflies," or the two women smoking by the river, or the
falling-snow scene, or the sunset by the sea, have a beauty as unique as
it is haunting. The colours, dull in tone, produce against the metallic
sheen of the silver backgrounds unparalleled arrangements that are
positively disturbing in their super-refinement.

Choki's blue and silver and red tones seem to pass over into a region
where dwell things inexpressible by ordinary pigments. The most
sophisticated amateur shivers before some of these colour-harmonies.
Choki's characteristic prints are never restful, but always exciting and
vibrant; they are dominated by some hidden instability of equilibrium
that reacts on one's nerves like a drug. Their beauty has a certain
madness in it, or at least a note of strain and disquietude. Thus in the
end, for all his imitative efforts, Choki stands, as did Sharaku, in
solitary isolation and impenetrable mystery.


Size 24 × 4½. Signed _Shiko, hitsu_.


Size 24 × 5. Signed _Shiko, hitsu_.

_Plate 46._]

For reasons unknown to us, Choki late in his activity changed his
signature to Shiko and produced under this name a small number of prints
regarding the quality of which opinions differ. They are all in the
manner of Utamaro's later style, and so little resemble the work signed
"Choki" that one has to use a distinct effort to restrain one's
incredulity, in the face of pretty clear evidence that the two names
were used by a single artist. Easily first among these prints are a few
splendid pillar-prints; one of these, the two singers with the black
box, illustrated in Plate 46, seems to me almost the finest pillar-print
post-dating 1795 that I have ever seen. Of this form Choki was a
consummate master. But M. Koechlin regards these Shiko prints as mere
imitations of Utamaro's period of decadence, and rejoices in the fact
that they are so rare. Mr. Arthur Morrison, on the other hand, who
points out correctly that Shiko is Choki's late, not his early name (a
matter on which most writers have inexplicably gone astray) feels that
the Shiko sheets are, in the best instances, of more elegance and
distinction than anything produced under the Choki signature. I should
hardly like to agree with either view, but am content to put the Shiko
pillar-prints and the Choki silver-prints side by side, and regard them
as the supreme examples of the double talent of this puzzling genius.

[Illustration: SHIKO.]

All of Choki's work is of great rarity; that signed Shiko is possibly
even rarer than that signed Choki. Rarest and most highly treasured of
all are his silver-prints; the ordinary collector will probably never
have an opportunity to obtain one.

followers of Choki. The fact that we do not know of more disciples of so
brilliant a designer is another one of the inexplicable things that
surround him.


_The Pupil of Toyokuni._

      I walk the crowded Yedo streets,
    And everywhere one question greets
    My passing, as the strollers say--
    "How goes the Master's work to-day?
    We saw him sketching hard last night
    At Ryogoku, where the bright
    Trails of the rockets lit the air.
    You should have seen the ladies there!
    All the most famous of the town
    In gorgeous robes walked up and down
    The long bridge-span, well-knowing he
    Was there to draw them gorgeously.
    I'm sure he'll give us something fine--
    Dark splendid figures, lights ashine,
    A great procession of our best
    And costliest Oiran, with the West
    Burning behind them. When it's done,
    Pray, of the copies, save me one."

      Yes, I am pupil to the great.
    How well he bears his famous state!
    With what superbness he fulfills
    The multitude's delighted wills,
    Giving them, at their eager call,
    Each play and feast and festival
    Drawn with a rich magnificence:
    And they come flocking with their pence
    To buy his sheets whose supple power
    Captures the plaudits of the hour--
    Till even Utamaro's eyes
    Turn, kindled with swift jealousies.

      Strange! that before this crowded shrine
    One voice is lacking, and that mine--
    I, learner in his lordly house--
    I, on whose cold, unwilling brows
    The lights of his strong glory burn,
    Blinding my heart that needs must yearn
    Far from the measure of his state--
    I, liegeman to another fate.
    Would that some blindness came on me
    That I might cease one hour to see,
    For all his high, ambitious will,
    His is a peasant's nature still....
    What utter madness that my thought
    Weighs him--I who am less than naught!
    Where he walks boldly, there I creep.
    Where his assured long brush-strokes sweep
    Unhesitant, there I falter, strain
    With agony--perhaps in vain--
    For some more subtly curving line,
    Some musical poising of design
    That shall at last, at last express
    My frailer glimpse of loveliness.
    And yet, for all his facile art,
    I hug my impotence to my heart.
    For there are things his marching mind
    In steady labours day by day
    With all its sight shall never find,
    With all its craft can never say.
    There are lights along the dusky street
    That his bold eyes have never caught;
    There are tones more luminous, more sweet
    Than any that his hopes have sought.
    There are torturing lines that curve and fall
    Like dying echoes musical,
    Or twine and lave and bend and roll,
    In labyrinths to lure my soul.
    His ladies sumptuous and rare
    Move princess-like in proud design
    Of glowing loveliness: but where
    His bannered pomps and pageants shine,
    I feel a stiller, rarer peace,
    A cadence breathless, slender, lone.
    And where his facile brush-strokes cease
    Begins the realm that is my own.

      I wander lonely by fields and streams.
    I lie in wait for lingering dreams
    That brood, a tender-lighted haze
    Down the wide space of ending days--
    A secret thrill that hovering flies
    Round some tall form, some wistful eyes,
    Some thin branch where the Spring is green--
    A whisper heard, a light half-seen
    By lonely wanderers abroad
    In crowded streets or solitude
    Of hills--to haunt with dim unrest
    The empty chambers of the breast.

      Perhaps some day a heart shall come,
    Like me half-blind, like me half-dumb,
    Like me contentless with the clear
    Sunlighted beauties men hold dear.
    Perhaps he will more greatly prize
    My faltered whispers from afar
    Than all the Master's pageantries
    And confident pomp and press and jar.
    Yet, well or ill, how shall I change
    The measure doled, the nature given?
    Mine is the thirst for far and strange
    Echoes of a forgotten heaven.
    I listen for the ghosts of sound;
    Remote, I watch life's eager stream;
    Through wastes afar, through gulfs profound,
    I, Toyohiro, seek my dream.

Utagawa Toyokuni was born in 1768, and early began his apprenticeship as
a pupil of Toyoharu. From this master he learned the rules of European
perspective--a device which he soon abandoned for the true Japanese
convention. He may have studied under Shunyei for a short time. Though
he was later to become a fertile producer of actor-prints, he
inaugurated his work with the figures of women. His first works imitate
the type of face and figure made famous by Shunsho's and Shigemasa's
book, "Mirror of the Beautiful Women of the Yoshiwara." Before 1790 he
gave up this type for one copied from Kiyonaga, who was at this time at
the height of his fame. But Toyokuni was no such draughtsman as
Kiyonaga, and his figures in this manner are generally poorly drawn and
awkward. At this time he frequently adopted colour-schemes from Shunman.
After Kiyonaga's retirement Toyokuni began to use the delicate type made
popular by the rising genius of Choki; but after a short interval he
went over to Utamaro, who was then coming into supreme mastery.

[Illustration: TOYOKUNI.]

Up to 1791, therefore (according to Friedrich Succo, "Toyokuni und Seine
Zeit," München, 1913), Toyokuni was exclusively a painter of women. But
when in the early nineties the colossal Sharaku brought out his
revolutionary actor-portraits, Toyokuni abandoned his old field and
adopted, to the extent that a smaller man could, the themes and
eventually the manner of this great genius. At first Sharaku appears to
have been an awakener rather than a guide to Toyokuni; for we find that
it was to Shunsho's style that Toyokuni first looked for a model. But
when Sharaku's great series of the Ronin bust-portraits appeared,
Toyokuni at once responded to them as the strongest influence of his
whole life and produced a number of similar portraits in a manner that
captures all the eccentricities but little of the strength or insight of
Sharaku. A more successful series, also definitely inspired by Sharaku's
Ronin busts, was a set of full-length Ronin figures which Toyokuni then
brought out. These tall monumental designs, with striking masses of
black and deep colour against grey or mica backgrounds, are perhaps the
finest actors in the whole long list of this artist's work. Though they
never surpass Shunsho's or Sharaku's supreme creations, they are
powerful conceptions, and constitute some basis for the claim of
Toyokuni's admirers that he was the third-greatest of the

When, about 1794, Sharaku's career came to a sudden and tragic close,
Toyokuni turned back from actors to women. Once more he followed Utamaro
in the selection of his type, and with greater success than heretofore.
To this period belongs the really splendid triptych, "The Journey of
Narahira," representing a man on horseback and six attendants, admirably
spaced, at the foot of Fuji. In this period also must be placed the
series of pillar-prints of unusual width and shortness, very richly
printed, representing courtesans and actors together. The print of this
series which shows Ichikawa Kōmazō pushing back a reed blind to
surprise a half-clothed courtesan is a very fine work. These, and other
productions of this time, justify us in calling this decade the best
period of Toyokuni's activity.


Right-hand sheet of a triptych. Size 15 × 10. Signed _Toyokuni ga_.
Metzgar Collection.

_Plate 47._]

But before 1800 Toyokuni had followed Utamaro in that artist's adoption
of the thin necks, enormous coiffures, and distorted bodies which not
even Utamaro was always able to handle beautifully. Toyokuni's success
was far inferior. The over-ripeness of the type required all Utamaro's
subtlety to make it attractive or significant; and Toyokuni was by no
means subtle. Therefore it was no loss when he returned to actor-prints
shortly thereafter. One print of this, his second actor-period--the
savage portrait of Matsumoto Kōshirō, reproduced by Succo--is notable
and fine. But on the whole his second period shows Toyokuni as only
slightly more original than in the Sharaku period. In his portraits of
women at this time he sometimes leaned a little toward the Yeishi type,
with Yeishi's stiffness but without his distinction. Many books, from
these as well as from other years, bear witness to his industry; he was
a veritable geyser of prints of every sort.

In 1804 Toyokuni was obscurely involved in trouble with the authorities
over some of his historical prints. This was the time when Utamaro also
suffered at their hands. In 1806 Utamaro died; and Toyokuni, who had so
long leaned on the greater painter for his stimulus and inspiration,
went to pieces like a house of cards. Without a rival to emulate, he was
nothing; and we see him, a tragic figure--indisputably the most famous
master then living, who had survived the great days when he had competed
with Kiyonaga, Yeishi, and Utamaro for popular favour--now alone in a
glory which he could not sustain--a master bereft of those conditions
which had once enabled him to produce almost-masterpieces.

From this time on his work steadily deteriorated. The raw and
over-complicated colours of his designs of women made a melancholy
contrast to the "Narahira" triptych. He abandoned woman-portraiture
about 1810. His actors continued--a mere outworn formula--awkward,
angular creations, with senselessly crossed eyes, twisted necks, wry
mouths--the veriest parody on those devices which had once been employed
by Sharaku for a sublime end. Toyokuni died in 1825, a man who had
outlived himself.

Toyokuni's production had been enormous. The contemporaneous popularity
indicated by this is hard to understand unless we remember his frequent
shiftings of style and realize that at every moment he was ready to
throw off his old manner and adopt that of whatever artist most strongly
appealed to the taste of the hour. He was the most imitative of all
artists. What the mob wanted he gave them unreservedly, losing his own
integrity thereby.

Toyokuni seems to have been without real individuality or individual
view-point. He was devoid of either illusions or insight; and the true
artist must have the one or the other passionately. He drew his women
without enthusiasm and without tenderness. He conceived his actors
without the white-heat of real artistic creation. There is something
rasping about the greater part of his work; it seems full of sound and
fury, signifying nothing. It is rhetoric, not the profound and tragic
poetry of Sharaku, nor the subtle and decadent lyric strain of Utamaro.
Rarely did he make an authentic attempt to capture the beauty or wonder
or terror of life as he himself saw it. It is always the vision of other
men that he is reporting, not his own. He had no vision.

So long as he could attach himself to some productive master, catching
that master's feeling and style to a certain extent, he produced
creditable works. But when the support was withdrawn he seemed powerless
to take another step along that road. Kiyonaga's retirement, Sharaku's
downfall, Utamaro's death--each in turn cut short Toyokuni's prosperous
career in the footsteps of these masters. When left to himself he had
only one thing to revert to--the typical Toyokuni actor at its worst, a
thing of common ugliness.

No fame has tarnished more than his with the passing of time. As
Sharaku's has brightened, his has dimmed. Once he was esteemed the
greatest living print-designer; now I find that many students feel a
sense of surprise when occasionally, out of the thousands of Toyokuni's
prints, one appears that is really distinguished.

It must, however, be admitted that at certain times Toyokuni's native
brilliancy enabled him to create prints that are not surpassed by any of
his contemporaries. He did more poor work than any other artist of his
time; but such triptychs as the "Ryogoku Fireworks," in the Kiyonaga
manner, the "Bath House," in which shadows appear on the wall, the "Fan
Shop," and the "Ladies and Cherry-blossoms in the Wind," are beyond

The best Toyokuni prints are very rare; the common ones are to be found
plentifully in every print-shop. His few finest triptychs, such as the
"Narahira," or the "Ladies and Cherry-blossoms in the Wind," of which
one sheet appears in Plate 47, are among the collector's important

The beginner should be warned that there were, in all, at least five men
who at various times bore the name Toyokuni. No one of the successors of
the first Toyokuni ever produced work comparable with the finest work of
Toyokuni I; but it is a matter of great difficulty, not yet by any means
wholly clear, to distinguish between the late inferior work of Toyokuni
I and the work of several of the succeeding Toyokunis. One simple
indication may be of service to the inexperienced collector: If the
Toyokuni signature is in a red oval or cartouch, it is not by the first
master. This statement cannot, however, be reversed, for the later
Toyokunis often signed without the cartouch.


_A Group of Ladies._

      O careless passer--O look deep!
    These forms from near the sea of sleep
    Come hither; on each forehead gleams
    The phosphorescent spray of dreams.
    They have sailed in from lonely seas
    Cloaked in a haze of mysteries;
    And hither by a lord are led
    Who snared them, pale himself with dread,
    Upon the very shores of sleep.
    O careless passer-by, look deep!

Utagawa Toyohiro, sometimes also called Ichiriusai, was born in 1773; he
was a brother, fellow-student, and probably pupil of Toyokuni. It is
well known that about 1800 these two artists collaborated to some
extent. Toyohiro's own chief work--landscapes, book-illustrations not
unlike Hokusai's, and figures of women--was done between 1795 and 1820;
he died in the year 1828.

[Illustration: TOYOHIRO.]

Fate has been unkind to him in associating him with a man tremendously
more productive and incomparably more popular in his own day than
himself. Even to the present time, the reputation of Toyokuni still
overshadows that of his brother. But the close student of Toyohiro's
work will probably come to the conclusion that this present difference
in fame is due less to difference in merit than to the fact that
Toyokuni was enormously prolific, while Toyohiro's work was scanty. The
contemporaneous popularity may be ascribed to the ability of Toyokuni to
shift and veer with every change in the public taste, while Toyohiro was
unable or unwilling to move with these fluctuating winds. It is reported
that a serious breach occurred between the brothers because of
Toyohiro's refusal to produce actor-prints as the popular taste
demanded. His work is, however, coming to be recognized as of a quality
at least equal to his brother's, and in some respects finer and more
truly the expression of a rare sense of beauty.

We may conjecture that Toyohiro inherited two things from his first
teacher Toyoharu. One was a leaning toward landscape drawing. The other
was a certain distinction and shy aloofness that marked the older

All Toyohiro's work has an aristocratic touch, a fine subtlety of curve
and colour, that contrast markedly with the frequently blaring
compositions of Toyokuni. He seldom drew actors or courtesans; most of
his figures are ladies of birth and breeding. The beautiful spots of
black which are important elements in the majority of his compositions
are handled with a keen sense of contrast that not even Kiyonaga's
surpassed. His brushwork is firm and delicate, but not so sparkling with
vitality as that of some of his predecessors. His colours are soft, his
figures wonderfully graceful; the impression he produces upon one is
that of a subtle and beauty-hungry spirit, detached from the mob by a
refinement beyond their comprehension, driven on by a consuming passion,
devoted to the quest of a perfection he was able to project but not to

In style, he draws considerably upon Toyokuni's early Utamaro manner;
but in spirit he is nearer to Yeishi and Utamaro himself, both of whom
must have influenced him somewhat. Not even the work of Yeishi is so
saturated with the wistfulness for beauty, the sense of vanishing
loveliness, the homesickness for regions of otherwhere. One of his
triptychs, the "Daimyo's Kite Party," reproduced in Plate 48, so
embodies these qualities that it is worthy of special attention.


Triptych. Each sheet size 15 × 10. Signed _Toyohiro ga_.

_Plate 48._]

In a landscape of green hills, where a circle of low slopes encloses a
space of level ground, stands, on the rising edge of that natural
amphitheatre, a group of noble ladies and children in the soft
brightness of festal attire--richly decorated pink, black, white,
translucent heliotrope. Below and behind them boys are manœuvring a
kite, and older men direct briskly. The ladies for whom this simple and
charming pastime is arranged do not seem wholly intent upon it. Their
tall slender figures move as if in abstraction, an isolated group in the
foreground. One grey cherry-tree, with gnarled branches etched against a
clear sky, stands in their midst, bare except for the pink of earliest
blossoms; and the pale green of the more distant encircling hills is
here and there touched with the same luminous flowers.

Across this landscape the slender figures move in slow procession. Their
robes sway about them slowly. These sweeping draperies, which Harunobu
would have charged with peace and solemnity, are here touched with the
tension of more unquiet curves, restless, troubled with some element of
torture in their beauty. These are the lines of the branch and of the
wave, bent by the strain of hidden and conflicting forces. The clear
festive brightness of pink cherry-blossoms with the light of spring
shining through them serves but to accentuate the faint melancholy of
the trailing figures on whom lies a wistfulness that no spring can
satisfy. They linger, exquisitely aimless; beautiful, and weary for a
yet-unattained beauty; happy, but grave with the shadow of fleeting
happiness; sad, though reconciled by the knowledge that beauty is half
sadness. They have walked with expectant steps to the edge of the world;
and now they pace, delicately wondering, not far from the abyss where
there is nothing. Autumn will always be to them cold and unkindred; yet
in the flush of the spring their thoughts will turn toward death and
autumn. One cannot imagine them wholly joyous. They seem haunted by a
nostalgia for remote delights, unearthly music, secret and dimly
remembered gardens. Strange, late, exotic flowers are these, whom a
pensiveness not known to simpler and sturdier natures disturbs with
futile dreams.

A similar feeling is so often repeated in Toyohiro's work that I venture
to regard it as the keynote of his genius.

Toyohiro's landscapes are without notable beauty. He had a habit of
cutting across the middle of his picture with wide streaks of white
mist--an unpleasant device adopted to produce the effect of distance. He
is, however, an historical link of great importance between his master,
Toyoharu, and his pupil, Hiroshige, the greatest of all landscape
painters. As a conduit of landscape painting at a time when the Ukioye
School was little given to this as a separate study, Toyohiro's work in
this field may well engage our attention; but one suspects that it is
the fame of his great pupil's landscapes rather than the intrinsic merit
of his own that has given his their prominence.

Toyohiro produced a few pillar-prints of birds which have great
distinction; an almost classic feeling marks some of them.

Toyohiro's prints are not numerous; Toyokuni's outnumber his twenty to
one. His pillar-prints are very rare; his triptychs are generally
notable. It is necessary to add, however, that poor impressions of his
work, printed in poor colours, are more common than any other kind.







When Utamaro died, in 1806, the great days of the figure-print were
ended. There were to be no more Harunobus or Kiyonagas or Sharakus--only
a horde of little men whose work retained few traces of the earlier
greatness. And our serious interest in the art as a whole must end here.
Were it not for the superb renaissance of landscape which this period
includes, side by side with the decay of figure-designing, it would be
my choice to mark this date as the end of our history.

The causes of the degradation of prints in this period appear to have
been of several natures. For one, the accidents that regulate the birth
of geniuses operated unkindly, and few artists of first-rate talent came
to take the places of the dead masters. Further, the colour-print had
gone somewhat out of fashion among its original public, and the people
who now bought were chiefly of a lower and more ignorant class than the
purchasers of Kiyonaga's day. To the less exacting but eager demands of
this class the publishers catered with coarser designs, cruder colours,
and more careless printing. Now, in literal truth, the print-designer
was the artisan; and amid the vast flood of commonplace productions of
the time it is difficult to search out those few works that have a claim
to beauty.

It is probable that a general loss in refinement of taste marked the
epoch and was reflected in the prints. The uncouth flaring designs of
the textiles, the gross overladen coiffures, the excess of decoration
that lay like a blight over all the instruments of life at this time,
naturally had their influence upon the standards of the artist.

Furthermore, the movement toward realism here reached its climax.
Dominated by Hokusai's earlier work, the artists abandoned the old
traditional devotion to stylistic restraint and went madly in chase of a
distorted kind of literal truth that had no relation to beauty. Men who
were too impotent to create visions nobly and too dull to observe
reality keenly attempted to conceal their double weakness by a double
evasion--spoiling what claim their work had to idealistic imagination by
touches of crude realism, and ruining it as realism by the most
grotesque aberrations of fancy. In the sphere of erotic prints this was
characteristically and repellently manifest. Certain examples of this
type, produced in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, surpass
in grossness even the most studied of European specimens. In landscape
alone has the period something of the highest charm to offer us.


As we have seen, Toyokuni's career ended anything but brilliantly.
Unfortunately his numerous followers appear to have been influenced more
by his final work than by the production of his better days. I do not
regard it as profitable to wade, as some writers have done, through this
wearying period of degenerate production and tabulate every fact
obtainable about every insignificant artist with the same care that one
would bestow upon Kiyonaga. I shall therefore be content to note down
only the most salient features of this epoch of disintegration.

Following Toyokuni, at least four men used the name made famous by him.
The first of these, Toyokuni II, was that same Toyokuni Gosotei of whom
we shall treat under the heading of Landscape. His use of the name
Toyokuni appears to have been between the years 1825 and 1835.

Toyokuni III was better known as Kunisada I; for though he was born in
1786 and lived until 1865, he did not adopt the name of Toyokuni until
about 1844. He added to our confusion by the fact that he signed himself
"Toyokuni" or "Toyokuni II," never recognizing the claims of the real
Toyokuni II to the name. Most frequently Kunisada's Toyokuni signature
is enclosed in a long red cartouch, a device never used by Toyokuni I.
This very undistinguished artist was one of the most prolific producers
of the school. All that meaningless complexity of design, coarseness of
colour, and carelessness of printing which we associate with the final
ruin of the art of colour-prints finds full expression in him. Every
tourist returning from Japan brings back dozens of crudely coloured
prints by him or by the members of his school, under the misapprehension
that these are the famous and valuable Japanese prints of which he has
vaguely heard. The only figure work of Kunisada's that I am able to
recall with any pleasure is his really notable Memorial Portrait of
Hiroshige, a dignified and impressive print. The few landscapes he
produced are of much greater beauty than his figures, and one is
inclined to wish that he had done more in this field and less in the

[Illustration: KUNISADA.]

TOYOKUNI IV was also known as Kunisada II and as Kunimasa II. Born 1833,
he died 1880. His prints, largely executed in cheap analine colours, set
one's teeth on edge with some of the most shrieking discords that I have
ever encountered. There exists an unfortunate collector who proudly
brought back from Japan one hundred and nineteen triptychs by this

TOYOKUNI V was also called Kunisada III and Kunimasa III. His work was

KUNIMASA I (1772-1810) was an exceedingly able pupil of Toyokuni, who
was influenced by Sharaku. Some of his work is very fine; he stands out
as one of the few notable designers of this group.

KUNINAGA, who died in 1804, was a rare pupil of Toyokuni. His work is
pleasant, though it has no great distinction; but it is far more
attractive than the work of most of these men, for the reason that he
had the good luck to die before the period of general disintegration
began. The Spaulding Collection contains a fine diptych by him, in black
and several shades of yellow, in the early style of Toyokuni.

KUNIMITSU was also an early pupil of Toyokuni. His work is agreeable but
not notable.

From the vast number of minor followers of the Toyokuni tradition, I
select the following as the most common: KUNIYASU I, KUNIYASU II,

CHIKAMARO is said to be identical with KIOSAI, whose work sometimes
resembles Hokusai's. Born in 1831, he died very late in the century. He
was a vigorous designer--perhaps the best of all the later men. His
crow pictures are famous.

[Illustration: KIKUGAWA YEIZAN.]

KIKUGAWA YEIZAN, a prolific and undistinguished designer of the first
quarter of the century, was a late rival and imitator of Utamaro. He
eventually sank even to imitating Kunisada. The flowing draperies of
some of his prints of women are at first sight attractive to eyes not
accustomed to the finest works in this field; but the complete banality
of Yeizan's powers becomes manifest on more prolonged acquaintance, and
any trace of charm disappears.


Here may be mentioned those artists in whom the once-great Torii School
came to its inglorious end.

KIYOMINE, the fifth head of the school, sometimes signed himself
Kiyomitsu; his work is easily distinguishable from that of the first
Kiyomitsu. He studied under Kiyonaga, and later adopted a style somewhat
like that of Toyokuni. His work is graceful, but not distinguished.
Prints by him are rather rare. He died in 1868.

KIYOFUSA, who died as late as 1892, was the sixth Torii. He also called
himself Kiyomitsu III and Kiyosada II. Other late members of this


In the first half of the nineteenth century there grew into importance
in the city of Osaka a group of designers who constituted an exception
to the statement made earlier in this book--that the art of
colour-printing was exclusively a Yedo art. Hokusai is known to have
visited Osaka in 1818; and possibly it was his influence that encouraged
the movement. At any rate, a large number of the Osaka group were pupils
of Hokusai or followers of his manner.

The school thus entered into real activity at a date when the art was
far gone in its decline; and its designs produced no arresting effect.
Most of the work of these men is crude. Yet when we look at the products
of the second quarter of the century in Yedo, we may very possibly feel
that the Osaka output was at least no worse. It included chiefly
theatrical portraits, all done with a peculiar hardness of line and cold
brilliance of colour, and printed as a rule very skilfully. These by no
means approach the works of Shunsho, Shunyei, and Sharaku, after which
they were obviously patterned, nor even the works of Toyokuni; but the
hard treatment so characteristic of them gives a certain dignity of
effect which Kunisada's flowing and formless earthquakes of draperies
generally lack.

The school does not call for elaborate treatment; the following men may
be mentioned as among the best known: HOKUSHU, HASEGAWA SADANOBU,
HOKUMIO, HANZAN, YOSHIIKU, and RANKO. Others will be mentioned later as
pupils of Hokusai or as landscape-painters.


Like a beautiful island in the midst of a sea of wrecks, the landscape
prints of the first half of the nineteenth century stand apart from the
general debasement of print-designing. The great days of the
figure-print were over; but now, into an art filled with the second-rate
followers of Utamaro and Toyokuni, came the fresh and brilliant
landscape genius of Hokusai and Hiroshige. Their work did not share in
the general decline; it must be regarded as a new shoot sent up by the
roots of a tree whose main trunk had already fallen into irreparable

Landscape-prints were not a new thing; Utamaro and Toyohiro had already
produced fine work of this nature, and interesting examples are to be
found as we look backward through the work of Toyoharu, Shigemasa,
Kiyonobu, and Masanobu--back, in fact, almost to the beginning of the
art. But these earlier landscapes were, upon the whole, of subordinate
importance; beside the figure-prints of the earlier masters, they seem
crude and rudimentary. Previous to Hokusai and Hiroshige, they were
chiefly of topographical, not of æsthetic, intention and interest. In
the nineteenth century their importance became paramount.

"Japanese colour-prints devoted to landscape," writes Mr. Strange, "form
a class apart in the art of the world. There is nothing else like them;
neither in the highly idealistic and often lovely abstractions of the
aristocratic painters of Japan, nor in the more imitative and, it must
be said, more meaningless transcripts from nature, of European artists.
The colour-print, as executed by the best men of the Japanese popular
school, occupies an intermediate place; perhaps thus furnishing a reason
why we Westerners so easily appreciate it. Its imagery and sentiment are
elementary in the eyes of the native critics of Japanese high art. Its
attempts at realism are in his eyes mere evidence of vulgarity. On the
other hand these very qualities endear it to us. We can understand the
first, without the long training in symbolism which is the essential of
refinement to an educated man of the extreme East. And the other
characteristic forms, in our eyes, a leading recommendation. In short,
the landscapes of artists such as Hiroshige approach more nearly to our
own standards, and are thus more easily acceptable to us than anything
else in the pictorial arts of China and Japan; while they have all the
fascination of a strange technique, a bold and undaunted convention, and
a superb excellence of composition not too remote in principle from our


      Because thou wast marvellous of eye, magic of fancy, lithe of hand,
    Because thou didst play o'er many a gulf where common mortals
        dizzy stand,
    Because no thing in earth or sky escaped the pryings of thine art,
    I call thee, who wast master of all, the master with the monkey's heart.

      Where in the street the drunkards roll--where in the ring
        the wrestlers sway,
    Where rustics pound the harvest rice, or fishers sail, or abbots pray,
    In rocky gorge, or lowland field, or winter heights of mountain air,
    Wherever man or beast or bird or flower finds place--yea, everywhere
    Thou standest, as I fancy, rapt in the live play of mass and line,
    Curiously noting every poise; and in that ugly head of thine
    Storing it with unsated fierce passion for life's minutest part,
    Some day to use infallibly--O master with the monkey's heart!

      Where Kanazawa's thundering shores behold the mounded waters rave,
    And Fuji looms above the plain, and the plain slopes to meet the wave,
    There didst thou from the trembling sands unleash thy soul in sudden flight
    To soar above the whirling waste with awe and wonder and delight.
    Thou sawest the giant tumult poured; each slope and chasm of cloven brine
    Called thee; and from the scattered rout one vision did thy sight divine,
    One heaven-affronting whelming wave in which all common waves have part--
    A billow from the wrath of God--O monkey with a master's heart!

      What mind shall span thee? Who shall praise or blame thy
        world-embracing sight
    Whose harvest was each rock and wraith, each form of loathing or of light?
    Though we should puzzle all our days, we could not know thee as thou art,
    Nor where the seer of vision ends, nor where begins the monkey's heart.

Until rather recently Hokusai was, for European spectators, as isolated
and commanding a figure in the domain of Japanese art as Fuji is in the
Japanese landscape. He was regarded as the one culminating and
all-inclusive genius among Japanese painters and print-designers. At
precisely the same time, he was esteemed by Japanese connoisseurs to be
a prolific but vulgar artisan, whose mere craftsman-dexterity could not
compensate for his lack of lofty feeling and poetic vision.

It is not necessary to quarrel with either of these views. Almost every
student of Hokusai passes through three stages. At first, he is
overwhelmed by Hokusai's technical skill and imaginative brilliance, and
regards him as unrivalled. Deeper experience brings him the conviction
that much of this magical dexterity is somewhat in the nature of a
juggler's antics in a vaudeville, and that his first burst of enthusiasm
was not wholly warranted. Then, finally, he comes to perceive that there
are qualities in Hokusai's work which, in spite of so much that is
vulgar, justly entitle this artist to his high fame.

[Illustration: HOKUSAI.]

One classes Hokusai as a landscape-artist; yet his work was by no means
confined to landscape. He pictured, as M. Théodore Duret wrote,
"everything to be seen by the eye or invented by the brain of a
Japanese." His "Mangwa," that vast twelve-volume collection of
drawings, includes sketches of a whole world of varied scenes and
objects and people. The bulk of his production was colossal--dozens of
designs a day throughout most of his eighty-nine years!

His figures are drawn with a swift and sure realism that is generally
tinged with humour and often with vulgarity. His vigorous power of
observing and recording faces and attitudes is almost unparalleled.
Fantasy, whimsical conceits, irony, grotesqueness animate them; always
they have superabundant life. The play of his brush is miraculous.

His landscapes are his greatest works. In the best of these he shakes
off his trifling mood, and, as in Plate 51, creates designs whose stark
brilliance and originality of composition is unsurpassed. And at least
once, in the noblest of his prints--the rare and monumental series of
"The Imagery of the Poets"--he achieves a high seriousness that will
always be impressive.


One of the Series "Thirty-six Views of Fuji." Size 10½ × 15. Signed
_Hokusai I-itsu, hitsu_.

_Plate 49._]

Hokusai was born in 1760, the son of a mirror-maker. He lived to the age
of eighty-nine years--a long life, crowded with privation that wins our
sympathy, and with incessant devotion to his art. When in his seventies,
he said: "Ever since the age of six years I have felt the impulse to
draw the forms of objects. Up to the age of fifty years I made a great
number of drawings; but I am dissatisfied with everything that I created
prior to my seventieth year. At the age of seventy-three I, for the
first time, began to grasp the true forms and nature of birds, fishes,
and plants. It follows that at the age of eighty I shall have made
still greater progress; at ninety I shall be able to create all objects;
at a hundred I shall certainly have attained to still higher,
unimaginable power; and when I finally reach my one hundred and tenth
year, every line, every dot will live with an intense life. I invite
those who are going to live as long as I to convince themselves whether
I shall keep my word. Written at the age of seventy-five years by me,
formerly Hokusai, now called the Old Man Mad with Painting." His dying
words were: "If the gods had given me only ten years more--only five
years more--I could have become a really great painter!"

Hokusai's education began as an apprentice to a wood-engraver, a
valuable experience for his later career. At the age of eighteen he
entered the studio of Shunsho and adopted the name of Shunro. Under this
name he produced actors in the orthodox Shunsho manner and melodramatic
illustrations for the popular romances of the day. About 1786 a quarrel
with Shunsho, due to the pupil's insubordination, led to Hokusai's
expulsion, and he thereupon launched out for himself, to begin his long
life of poverty and madly enthusiastic labour.

His work may be divided roughly into three periods. In the first he
followed the traditions of Shunsho, Shunyei, Utamaro, and others of his
contemporaries, with great skill but no special originality. His
countless book-illustrations of this time were all conceived with lively
fancy and vigour; but perhaps the finest works of this, his conventional
period, are the very wide prints and surimono in which, against a
delicately suggested landscape, move extraordinarily graceful women's
figures not unlike those of Utamaro. Already he was a master of drawing;
but he kept incessantly at his studies under many teachers, learning,
among other things, European perspective from Shiba Kokan. His work was
done in this and the following periods under a dozen different names, of
which Sori, Kako, Shunro, and Taito are the most important.

In 1812 began his second or realistic period, with the publication of
the first book of his fifteen-volume series of drawings, the "Mangwa."
In this epoch he turned from the styles of his predecessors and launched
into a hitherto unknown journalistic realism. With a lively sense of the
comic and the burlesque, and an insatiable interest in the homeliest
details of life, he threw overboard all formal stylistic quality and set
sail on a riotous voyage of naturalistic discovery.

The "Mangwa," which may serve as a type of his whole production in this
realistic period, is praised sometimes as his greatest work. In it we
shall find not only his most striking _tours-de-force_ as a draughtsman
but also the key to his weakness. All existence thrilled him as it did
Walt Whitman; and each object on which he turned his eyes stirred him
with the desire to record it in his pages. Day after day he worked like
a madman, throwing off his sketches of man, beast, and phantom, of rock,
river, and sea, in endless profusion and with inexhaustible ingenuity.
And though we grant our admiration to the enthusiasm, sharp vision, and
clever draughtsmanship of these sheets, we may still find in this
undiscriminating passion a quality incompatible with the highest
reaches of artistic greatness. There is something vulgar, childish,
under-developed in the mental attitude revealed; it seems a coarse greed
for all experience, unlighted by the power to judge and reject, or by
any consciousness of the ranks and hierarchies of beauty. It is a vast
and dull enthusiasm; a celebration of the victory of the will to live
over the will to perfect; a triumph of meaningless sensation over the
just judgments of the discriminating mind. All shapes seem equally
interesting and beautiful to it--all smells equally sweet. As Pater
writes of Balzac--a man who was in many ways not unlike Hokusai--this
artist "had an excess of curiosity--curiosity not duly tempered with the
desire of beauty."

I can never look through the "Mangwa" without a sense of distressing
chaos and a longing for the purer beauties which more finely organized
artists have evoked from the heterogeneous welter of the seen world. But
just this welter is at this time Hokusai's theme. "A debauch of
sketches," Fenollosa calls it. In this work Hokusai stands beside
Harunobu exactly as Whitman stands beside Keats--a more interesting mind
but a far less perfect artist.

"Hokusai is incomparable," writes the commentator who furnished the
introduction to one of his books. "While all his predecessors were more
or less slaves to classical tradition and inherited rules, he alone
emancipated his brush from all such fetters, and drew according to the
dictates of his heart." True: and this was his curse. No man has ever
lived with heart profound and subtle enough for such emancipation. Nor
have the supreme artists ever attempted it. In Hokusai's case this
upstart-abandoning of all tradition was an error from which he was able
later to retrieve himself; but so great was the impression produced by
his vulgarities on the mob that even to this day popular Japanese art
has remained under the cloud of it.

Hokusai himself did recover. In his third period, the stylistic one, the
greatness that was in him transcended his petty interest in the trivial
idiosyncrasies of seen things, and he created those visions which
constitute his lasting glory. Between 1823 and 1830 he issued those
series, "The Thirty-six Views of Fuji," "The Bridges," "The Waterfalls,"
"The Loocho Islands," and "The Imagery of the Poets," in which we hail
him as master. No longer the dupe of realism, he brings us his dreams.

"The Thirty-six Views of Fuji" stands as one of his two greatest works.
Here, in the forty-six plates that constitute the main series and the
supplement, the same motive is treated recurrently, but with infinite
variety. He depicts Fuji, the sacred mountain, in storm and calm, in
mist and sunlight--sometimes dominating the colossally empty frame of
the design, sometimes receding to a mere speck in the distance; and
around the noble peak beat the waves of the sea and the foam of the
clouds and the restless stream of human life, in a great epic of
infinite diversity and profound unity.


One of the Series "Thirty-six Views of Fuji." Size 10½ × 15. Signed
_Saki no Hokusai I-itsu, hitsu_.

_Plate 50._]

In this series his trivial realism is forgotten, or employed only in
just subordination. Throwing aside his earlier vulgar absorption in the
minutiæ of existence, he concentrated his vision on one conception, one
chosen impression, so sharply and personally seen that he evoked a new
style in landscape. Much it borrowed from tradition; but the flavour was
Hokusai's. These designs are, primarily, magnificent studies in linear
composition. The great sweep of Fuji's slope is related to the rhythm of
every other line in the picture. And the line-dominance is preserved by
the use of the simplest and most original of colour-schemes--green,
blue, and brown--broadly laid on in large masses. A highly decorative
quality and great boldness are the result.

The justly famous "Wave" belongs to this series. Here for the first time
in our survey of the prints do we find elemental fury depicted with
grandiose eloquence. In the majestic composition of the "Great Tree"
(Plate 50) the calm sublimity of nature and the infinitely minute,
vermin-like aspect of man is superbly expressed. In the "Tama River"
(Plate 49) Hokusai gives us a sweep of wave and shore, mist and
mountain, that his great predecessors, the landscape-painters of Sung
days in China, might have envied. In all these prints he relates man and
nature to each other with a vividness and dramatic power foreign to his
great rival Hiroshige.

The world which Hokusai pictures in this series is not the real world,
but Hokusai's highly personal translation of it into terms of superb
imagination. A thousand memory-stored impressions combine to make the
sharp composite of each design; and it is to use the term in its
technical Platonic sense, the Idea of the scene that he flashes before
us. Herein lies the abnormal vitality that emanates from these pictures.
"We feel," says Mr. Binyon, "that the world holds more wonders than we
dreamed of, sources of power and exhilaration which Hokusai has
revealed, and which we may go and discover for ourselves."

Hokusai's other great work was a series of ten upright prints of very
large size, "The Imagery of the Poets." It returns in feeling, though
not in technique, to the style of the classic masters; and remains,
because of its high seriousness of mood and its sweeping magnificence of
composition, at the very top of all Hokusai's work. Of all his thousands
of designs, the one that is supreme is probably the print of this set
which depicts the famous Chinese poet Li Peh beside the chasm and
cascade of Luh.

Even his latest years were crowded with continued efforts. In 1849, at
the age of eighty-nine years, he died.

Fine and well-preserved Hokusai prints are not common. His "Poets" and
really brilliant impressions of his "Thirty-six Fuji" are very rare,
particularly the former. Poor impressions of the latter are numerous.
Practically all of Hokusai's most famous prints have been reproduced,
and the collector must be on his guard against these worthless sheets.
One of the best-known judges in Europe was recently deceived by a
fraudulent set of the "Poets." Hokusai's fine bird-and-flower designs
and his large early surimono are rare; as also are good copies of his
famous books, the "Mangwa" and the "One Hundred Views of Fuji." Numerous
late blurred impressions of these are extant, and should be avoided. His
other books are not uncommon.


Size 14½ × 6½. Signed _Hokusai ga_.

_Plate 51._]


Hokusai had many pupils; no one of them equalled the landscape work of
the master, though several of them produced designs of great interest.
As a body they were distinguished for their matchless work in the field
of surimono.

The surimono was a type of print not sold in the market; it was made
upon special order of private individuals for use as a festival-greeting,
an invitation, a congratulatory memorial, or an announcement. Its size
was generally small, about five or six inches square; printed on very
soft thick paper, it displayed the utmost complexity of the technique of
colour-printing. The number of blocks was lavishly multiplied; the most
subtle gradations of colour were contrived; and the effect was
heightened by every variety of gauffrage, gold, silver, and bronze
powders, and mother-of-pearl dust. Yet in spite of all this effort, the
surimono is, in the opinion of many collectors, not as a rule very
important as a work of art. In the ordinary surimono the medium employed
has outstripped the motive expressed, and what should have been the
means has become the sole end. Nevertheless they are unrivalled as
specimens of workmanship and printing, and the best of them are highly
treasured. Some of Hokusai's pupils excelled their master in this form.

[Illustration: GAKUTEI.]

GAKUTEI, who also signed himself Gogaku, produced perhaps the finest
surimono of any that we know. His work in this field was voluminous and
distinguished. He also issued a few exceedingly decorative landscapes.

HOKKEI stands beside Gakutei as a brilliant producer of surimono,
closely in the manner of Hokusai. Some of his landscapes, printed in
blue and green, have a curious charm and individuality.

HOKUJU produced landscapes in a strange semi-European style, with
angular mountains and unusual cloud effects.

[Illustration: HOKKEI.]

YANAGAWA SHIGENOBU, the son-in-law of Hokusai, copied his master
closely; some of his work has great charm. According to some authorities
he is the same person to whom Hokusai gave his discarded name,
KATSUSHIKA TAITO. Certain prints signed Taito are still somewhat in
doubt, notably the well-known leaping fish and the moon-and-bridge
scene, both from the "Harimaze Han"; Mr. Happer has brought forward
evidence that these are by Taito, but many authorities still hold to the
idea that they are the work of Hokusai under his early name. Among the
numberless Hokusai pupils may be named: HOKUBA, HOKUGA, NIHO, SHIGEYAMA,


      As merchantmen from Eastern Isles
    In caravels of purple came,
    With freight that alien heart beguiles,
    Incense and cloths of woven flame,

      So down the gulfs of elder time
    Thy glorious pinions bear to me
    Mad treasure from the unknown clime
    Of worlds beyond the Western Sea.

      Now in my bay the sails are furled.
    But I, who guess their native skies,
    Henceforth must roam that golden world,
    Where strange winds whisper and strange scents rise.--

          Immortal Fuji's snowy crown--
        Wide seas with sky of amethyst--
        A street where torrents thunder down--
        Branches that toss against the mist--
        Smooth hills and hill-girt plains where run
        Streams through the rice-fields steeped in heat--
        Pines gnarled above a sunken sun--
        Cold heights where cloud and mountain meet.

      Now visions enter to my breast
    That from thy passion won their birth,
    When like a bride in radiance dressed
    Before thee glowed the summers of earth.

      What magic gave thee to behold
    This fairness, secret from our sight,
    Where morning walks the world in gold,
    Or seas turn grey with coming night?

      For thee, as when the South Winds blow.
    Lands burst to bloom. On every shore
    Where beauty dwells thou didst bestow
    A perilous mortal beauty more.

          Twilight and morn on Biwa's breast--
        Harima's sands and lordly pines--
        White Hira-mountain's winter crest--
        The low red dusk round Yedo shrines--
        The moon beneath the Monkey Bridge--
        The Poisoned River's brooding gloom--
        Rose-dawn on some Tokaido ridge--
        Pale water-worlds of lotus bloom.

      Our toiling race is with the day
    Wearied, and restless with the night,--
    Unpausing, on its tombward way,
    For fear or wonder or delight,--

      Unwatchful, mid the sombre things
    That mesh us in a vain employ,
    For peace that half of heaven brings,
    For beauty that is wholly joy.

      Lover for whom the world was wide!
    Down lighted pathways thou didst move,
    Where hills and seas and cities hide
    So much for weary men to love.--

          The mist of cherry-trees in spring--
        Ships sleeping on some bright lagoon--
        A swallow's dusky sweeping wing--
        Steep Ishiyama's autumn moon--
        The changing marvels of faint rain--
        The foam that hides the torrent's stream--
        The eagle o'er the snowy plain--
        Sea-twilights haunted as a dream.

      Speaking, thou laidst thy brush aside--
    "On a long journey I repair--
    Regions beyond the Western Tide--
    To view the wonderful landscapes there."

      Yet, at Adzuma, loosed from all
    Thy mortal bonds, made free to roam,
    Methinks thou couldst not break the thral
    That held thee to thy human home.

      Surely no heaven could harbour thee,
    Nor other world of keener bliss,
    Who didst with such deep constancy
    Worship the loveliness of this.

          Moon-flooded throngs in Yedo streets--
        Dawn quickened travellers on their road--
        Lone ocean-fronting hill retreats--
        An Oiran's perilous-sweet abode--
        A mighty Buddha by the sea
        Where all the wondering pilgrims meet--
        Immortal Fuji, changelessly
        Watching the world around her feet.


One of the Series "Eight Famous Views of Lake Biwa." Size 9 × 13½.
Signed _Hiroshige ga_.

_Plate 52._]

[Illustration: HIROSHIGE.]

Hiroshige takes rank by unanimous consent as the foremost landscape
artist produced by the Ukioye School. His prints, known to every one,
have been more greatly admired in Western lands than the prints of any
other artist except Hokusai. Hokusai's main concern was with the
fundamental architecture of landscape; he outlined the structure of
mountains, rocks, rivers, waves, and bridges with a hard and brilliant
sharpness; but Hiroshige, less rigid in his treatment, seems chiefly
intent upon the more delicate and transitory appearances of cloud and
mist, rain and snow, sunrise and dusk, that give to a landscape at each
moment so much of its specific character. These atmospheric effects of
his are justly famous. Few landscape painters of any race have succeeded
in rendering so finely the mood of a scene. No one can be insensible to
the delicate peace and sweetness of a twilight like that of Plate 52, or
the vigorous life of wide sea spaces in Plate 53, or the heavy hush of
nightfall over the snow-covered village of Plate 54. Even more
impressive are the luminous and solemn dusk on the Sumida River (Plate
55) and the mystery of the print called "The Bow-Moon" which appears as
the frontispiece.

_The Bow-Moon._

      Where the torrent leaps and falls,
    And the hanging cliffs look down,
    Cloven grey and ruddy walls
    Each with ragged forest-crown,

      There across the chasmèd deep
    Spans a gossamer bridge on high;
    And below, from gulfs of sleep,
    Mounts the Bow-Moon up the sky.

      Blue dusk, thickening whence she rose.
    Her abysses veils; above
    Moves she into twilight's close
    As faint strains of music move.

      On the eastern slope her feet,
    White, in trancèd ecstasy,
    Climb, a ghost of heaven so sweet
    That the spent day cannot die.

      Walled by crags on either side
    Glimmers forth her figure wan,
    Straying like some lonely bride
    Through the halls of Kubla Khan.

      Pilgrim of the riven deep!
    Whereso'er thy lover lie,
    Sleep to him is troubled sleep
    While his Bow-Moon haunts the sky.

Hiroshige's great strength lay in his genius for strikingly effective
composition, and in the skill with which he adapted his designs to the
limitations of the colour-print technique. He reduced the pictured scene
to a few simple elements of a highly decorative character, and managed
to make them so symbolic and suggestive that we do not miss the
multitude of details which he purposely omits. A strongly dominant unity
of impression is the result. His finest designs convey a sense of
personal feeling that even the Barbizon artists at their best do not
surpass. With the limited resources of the wood block, he achieved
subtle renderings of distance, aerial perspective, atmosphere, and
light; and the poetic quality of his designs has endeared him to
generations of print-lovers in a way more personal than is the case with
any other artist. His work will stand beside the "Liber Studiorum" of
Turner; it remains perhaps the most complete and magnificent landscape
record that any land has ever had.

One curious characteristic of these prints at once strikes the Western
eye--the use of a band of dark colour along the top of the picture,
which is shaded gradually down into the clear white of the lower sky.
This convention serves several purposes. It provides a mass to balance
the colour at the bottom of the design, bringing the whole sheet into
the picture and not leaving the upper portion as a mere margin above the
landscape proper. It also creates depth and atmosphere, setting the
brightest part of the design, the middle, back into the frame created by
the upper and lower masses. And finally, it renders with peculiar
accuracy the effect of gradual vanishing which we actually experience as
we look at a landscape: in our visual field, the sky does not end in a
sharp line, but blurs and darkens at the upper edge of the space that
our eyes survey.

Hiroshige's bird and flower designs are works of extraordinary freshness
and loveliness; a unique and idyllic charm emanates from them, and as
compositions they take high rank (Plate 56).

      Alilt against the emerald sky,
    A tiny violet songster swings,
    Clutching a branch, in ecstasy
    Of light and height and skiey things.
    Singing, he swings; and swinging, I
    For once am showered with joy of wings.

      Keen and pure, of a magic power,
    Thy rapture stirs what was never stirred.
    Thou hast brought to earth a cloudland dower,
    The joy of the small sweet singing bird.
    All time is richer for thy hour
    Of delicate music, gravely heard.

      Does the iris droop beneath the heat?
    Its weariness finds voice in thee.
    Does the pheasant run with snow-clogged feet?
    Winter is theirs who thy vision see.
    Is summer's glow to the swallow sweet?
    Thou hast captured its summer eternally.

      Each thou hast wrought as a lyric note
    Pure with one mood of sky and trees
    And flowers, and tiny lives that float
    Or dart or poise in world of these.
    The painter's hand, the thrush's throat--
    Which masters best these melodies?

      Gusty rain through the tree-tops blown
    And a bird that scuds where the grey gusts hiss--
    Sapphire wings and a golden crown
    Flung skyward in unconscious bliss--
    No rare enchanted bird has known
    As thou hast known the savour of this!

      And winning it, thou hast cast aside
    Thy native bonds of mortal birth,
    Flinging the spirit-pinions wide
    Above this world of weary worth,
    To float and poise and skyward ride
    With those whose realm is not the earth--

      The peacock in his proud repose--
    Wild geese that rush across the moon--
    The little sleepy owl that knows
    The wind-among-the-tree-tops tune--
    The kingfisher that darts and glows
    Over the reeds of the lagoon--

      The flower-lured humming-bird that weaves
    Spirals more delicate than they--
    Sanderlings that on moonlit eves
    Over the wave-crest swoop and play--
    The crane that shores of sunset leaves
    For sunset skies of far away.


One of the Series "The Fifty-three Post Stations of the Tokaido Road."
Size 9 × 14. Signed _Hiroshige ga_.

_Plate 53._]

Hiroshige was born in 1796, just as the great period of figure-designing
was drawing to its close. As a youth he attempted to gain entrance to
the studio of Toyokuni; but the fortunate fact that there was no room
for him forced him to enter the studio of the less popular but more
subtly gifted Toyohiro. Here he studied landscape, a branch in which he
was destined far to outstrip his master. That delicate genius which was
Toyohiro's cannot but have produced its effect upon the pupil; and it
pleases one to fancy that it is some echo of Toyohiro's inarticulate
refinement of feeling that gains at last full expression in some of
Hiroshige's most beautiful landscapes.

In 1828 Toyohiro died; and Hiroshige became independent. His earliest
works probably antedate this time a little; they consist of a few
figures of women and actors, and two very fine horizontal landscape
series. These were the "Toto Meisho," or earliest series of Yedo views,
distinguished by curious long red clouds in each plate; and the "Honcho
Meisho," a group of views of the main island of Japan. Particularly the
first of these sets contains work of great beauty.

Shortly after 1830 Hiroshige found occasion to travel from Yedo, the
northern capital, to Kyoto, the southern capital, along the great
post-road which he has immortalized--the Tokaido. There resulted his
series of horizontal plates, "The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido,"
completed about 1834. This remains his best-known and unsurpassed work.
Plate 53 is from this series. Each picture records with unfailing
vividness and originality some famous scene along the crowded national
highway. For reasons unknown to us, Hiroshige prepared new designs for
some of the plates after the original publication of the series; and
these variation-plates are of great interest to collectors.

Of the many series that followed, only the most important can be named
here. All are of horizontal shape unless otherwise designated.

_Naniwa Meisho_, ten views of Osaka--chiefly crowded wharf and market

_Kyoto Meisho_, ten views of Kyoto; a varied and delightful series
containing many fine prints.


One of the Vertical Tokaido Series. Size 13½ × 9. Signed _Hiroshige ga_.

_Plate 54._]

_Omi Hakkei_, the Eight Famous Views of Lake Biwa; the most poetic and
possibly the greatest of his works (Plate 52).

_Kanazawa Hakkei_, the Eight Famous Views of the Inlet of Kanazawa;
distinguished by a fine simplicity of composition.

_Yedo Kinko Hakkei_, the Eight Famous Views of Yedo; a series of
masterpieces, of great rarity.

_Chiushingura_, sixteen scenes from the story of the Forty-seven Ronin;
fine dramatic compositions, with powerful blacks and greys

_Toto Meisho_ and _Yedo Meisho_, names under which more than fifty
different series of Yedo views were issued by different publishers.
These sets include many masterpieces.

_Nihon Minato Tsukushi_, ten views of the Harbours of Japan.

_Toto Meisho_, a series of narrow upright panels of Yedo; several are
very distinguished.

_Mu Tamagawa_, views of the Six Tama Rivers.

_Series of Fishes._

_Kwa Cho_, upright panels of birds and flowers, some on full-sized
sheets, others very narrow; uneven in quality, some being masterpieces
(Plate 56).

_Fan Prints_, with landscapes or bird designs.

In the year 1842 began the so-called Prohibition Period of twelve years,
when the sale of actor and courtesan prints was forbidden. The effect of
this was to redouble the demand for landscape prints; and Hiroshige was
called upon to supply it. This he did by issuing, among others, the
following sets:--

_Tokaido Series_, published by Maruzei; next best to the "Great Tokaido
Series" of 1834.

_Tokaido Series_, published by Yesaki; slightly smaller than the "Great
Series"; when well-printed, which is rare, they take a very high place.

_Tokaido Series_, published by Sanoki, half-plate size; including many
charming designs.

_Kisokaido_, the Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido Road between Yedo
and Kyoto; a series in which Keisai Yeisen collaborated, producing
twenty-three of the seventy plates. Many of the plates are
uninteresting; but a quarter of them are superb. The set was reprinted
at least twice in inferior editions.

In this, which we may call the Kisokaido Period of Hiroshige's work, he
abandoned to a certain extent the delicate drawing of his Great Tokaido
and Yedo Period and employed larger unbroken colour masses, aiming at
broader effects.

In the fifties, Hiroshige abandoned almost entirely the horizontal or
lateral prints of his earlier days and adopted the upright shape. In
this form he produced the following series, as well as others not

_Upright Tokaido_, published by Tsutaya, 1855; a fine series when well
printed, but the late editions were crude in colour (Plate 54).

_Views of the Sixty-nine Provinces_, 1856; the rare first edition, which
is much the finer, is distinguished by having five seals on the face of
each plate. It contains a great deal of uninteresting work, but also ten
or fifteen masterpieces.


One of the Series "The Hundred Views of Yedo." Size 13 × 9. Signed
_Hiroshige ga_.

_Plate 55._]

_Three Triptychs._--The Rapids of Awa No Naruto, Moonlight View of
Kanazawa, and Snow Mountains on the Kiso Highway, all dated 1857, and
all magnificent.

_Two Kakemono-ye_, very large--the Monkey Bridge and the Snow Gorge of
the Fuji River, things of matchless impressiveness.

_The One Hundred Views of Yedo_, 1858; 119 plates, including, besides
much rubbish, 25 masterpieces (Plate 55).

_The Thirty-six Views of Fuji_, 1859; inferior, upon the whole, to his
earlier work. There are in existence very few well-printed copies.

In the last two or three of these series it is more than probable that
Hiroshige was assisted by his pupil Hiroshige II. The finest plates in
all these later series are equal to the master's most splendid earlier
designs; but certain of the plates are of so banal a character that it
is impossible to believe them to be from the great man's hand. Doubtless
the distinction between the work of the two artists cannot always be
drawn with certainty; but as a general rule we may regard the work as
that of Hiroshige II if we find the figures stiff and wooden, if the
composition is lacking in any central unity, or if some large ugly
object is thrust into the foreground with the hope of thus putting the
background into its proper relative place. At this period less care was
taken with the printing, and the majority of prints from these later
series are miserable impressions that libel Hiroshige's powers. When
well printed they can be very fine indeed; but the poor copies
outnumber the good a hundred to one.

In the year 1858, just after the publication of the "One Hundred Views
of Yedo," Hiroshige died. He did not live to see the plates for his
"Thirty-six Views of Fuji" completed. One of the collector's treasures
is a striking memorial portrait by Kunisada that was issued shortly
after Hiroshige's death. The old man is represented with a finely shaped
head, powerful, quiet features, and eyes as piercing as an eagle's.

The number of Hiroshige's different designs runs into at least three or
four thousand, not counting his illustrated books; and there must be in
existence a hundred thousand prints by him. His work is almost as
plentiful as that of all the other artists taken together. In spite of
this great abundance, the collector finds it difficult to-day to obtain
many really fine prints by him. The prints usually offered are either in
bad condition, or they are careless impressions produced without proper
attention to the difficult problem of printing. The rush occasioned by
Hiroshige's popularity naturally led to slighted work. Even in these
poor copies a certain fascination of design generally appears; but it is
only in the carefully printed copies, where the register is accurate and
the colours are delicately graded, luminous, and soft, that the full
beauty of Hiroshige's conception is made clear. Familiarity with the
finer impressions forever spoils the attentive observer's taste for the
crude ordinary copies. The task of the collector of Hiroshige's work
to-day resolves itself into a search for these rare and precious
early prints. The collector should lose no opportunity to compare
different copies of the same print; only thus can he educate his eyes
sufficiently to appreciate the vast difference between fine and inferior
examples. The difference, once grasped, is unforgettable.


Size 15 × 7. Signed _Hiroshige, hitsu_.

_Plate 56._]

The reader who desires detailed information as to the long list of
Hiroshige's work is referred to the Sale Catalogue of the Collection of
John Stewart Happer (Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, London), which is
the present foundation for any real study of the subject. A valuable
article on seal-dates by Major J. J. O'Brien Sexton, in the
_International Studio_ for May, 1913, should also be consulted by the


HIROSHIGE II, born 1826, was the adopted son of the great Hiroshige; as
we have seen, he probably assisted in some of the master's last work.
After Hiroshige's death the pupil assumed the master's name, previous to
that he had been known as Ichiusai Shigenobu. He is not to be confused
with Yanagawa Shigenobu, Hokusai's pupil.

It was once thought that Hiroshige II produced all the upright prints
signed Hiroshige. Mr. Happer has once for all discredited this idea, and
it is no longer held by any one.

Some of the work of Hiroshige II is very good; upon the accidental
destruction of one of the plates of the "One Hundred Yedo Series," he
produced a new design that is admirable. But he lacked originality, and
at his best merely trod in the footsteps of his master. Most of his
designs are flat and uninspired. About 1865 he fell into disgrace, and
moved to Yokohama, where he gave up his name, and is said to have worked
henceforth under the name of Hirochika II. He died in 1869.

There was also a Hiroshige III, who died in 1896--a wholly commonplace
and unimportant artist, who assumed the great name about 1865.


KEISAI YEISEN, who collaborated with Hiroshige in the "Kisokaido
Series," was born in 1791 and died in 1851. He produced many
figure-prints, following Yeizan, in the debased style of his
contemporaries. His landscapes, however, are his most interesting work.
Many of these follow Hiroshige tamely; but a few, in the older Kano
manner, are surprising and splendid designs. One of these, a rare sheet
depicting a bridge and mountains in moonlight, in _kakamono-ye_ form,
must be regarded as a masterpiece. His ordinary work is rather

[Illustration: YEISEN.]

GOSOTEI TOYOKUNI produced, besides some unimportant actor-prints, a few
fine landscapes in a very hard, sharp style. Chief among these is a
"Tamagawa Series," each plate of which has a large purple panel at the
top. The artist's original name was Toyoshige. Born in 1777, he became
the adopted son of Toyokuni I; after Toyokuni's death in 1825, he
married Toyokuni's widow and called himself Toyokuni II, a title which
Kunisada also claimed.

UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI, born in 1798, was the best pupil of Toyokuni I, and
an artist of more power than most of his contemporaries. His figures
sometimes have dramatic force of a rather fine kind; but the majority of
them are crude. His landscapes are his greatest claim to fame. Among
them are some of extraordinary quality. They have hardly been
sufficiently appreciated as yet by collectors. Kuniyoshi died in 1861.

[Illustration: KUNIYOSHI.]

KATSUKAWA SHUNSEN, a pupil of Shunyei, produced, besides ordinary
figure-prints, a few graceful landscapes, chiefly in tones of green and

HASEGAWA SADANOBU, who has been mentioned under the Osaka School, was an
arrant imitator of Hiroshige. The Hayashi Catalogue, page 236,
reproduces a print of his that is nothing more than a replica of one of
Hiroshige's "Sixty-nine Province Series"; and the Victoria and Albert
Museum Catalogue, Plate XLVI, shows a Lake Biwa print that copies
Hiroshige's half-plate "Omi Hakkei" almost line for line.

SADAHIDE and YOSHIYUKI, both Osaka artists, may be mentioned among the
unimportant landscape designers of the second half of the nineteenth

To-day the old art of the colour-print is completely dead. But an
entirely new school has produced some pleasing though weak designs of
birds, flowers, and landscapes; and some attractive illustrated books
have also been issued. The larger part of such work bears the obvious
stamp of having been produced for the tourist and the foreign market,
and has not a trace of that vigour and integrity which marked the prints
of the great masters, whose inspiration sprang from and spoke to the
heart of the Japanese people. European influence has produced a bad
effect upon the style of these modern prints; and the weak colour used
tends toward prettiness rather than toward beauty. It is idle to hope
that real vitality will ever return to animate this lost art.





The field of Japanese prints is so wide, and the cost of different
classes of prints is so various, that almost any taste and almost any
pocket-book can find appropriate material for collection. A print-lover
who is prepared to invest considerable sums of money, running perhaps
into many thousand pounds, will naturally seek only important examples
from the hands of the most renowned designers. A great collection must
in the first place contain representative specimens of the distinctive
manners of the notable men in each period; and in addition a great
collector will wish to acquire considerable numbers of the supreme
treasures--large-size Primitives, Harunobu pillar-prints, Kiyonaga
triptychs, Utamaro silver-prints, Sharaku portraits, matchless
impressions of Hiroshige landscapes, and the like. But even the modest
collector who is able to expend only a few pounds a year can, with
patience, secure beautiful and desirable pieces. It would be vain for
him to imagine that he can have things of the first importance and
rarity; but he may confidently expect to obtain delightful minor
examples of the work of even great artists, at prices that are within
any one's reach. A Yeishi triptych will cost from ten to eighty pounds,
but a charming small sheet by Yeishi can perhaps be bought for two. The
pleasure which the collector obtains from his collection is not
necessarily proportionate to the amount of his expenditure; and the
intelligent lover of beauty can derive lasting satisfaction from his
carefully selected but inexpensive little group of Hiroshige landscapes,
Shunsho actors, Harunobu book-illustrations, and similar works.

When, however, the owner of some such sheets finds his ambition is
growing with his interest, he needs to be somewhat cautious in his
effort to extend his collection. A few charming minor prints are a
highly desirable possession; a large collection of them is not. It is
easy for the lover of prints who has begun modestly to go on year after
year with increasing enthusiasm, piling up numbers of cheap mediocre
sheets; and in the end, after having spent enough money to purchase ten
great Kiyonagas, he finds himself the owner of a numerous but
undistinguished collection in which there is not a single print of the
first rank, nor a single one that will compel the admiration of the
connoisseur. It is interesting to have a few prints of each type and
period as examples, even though they are not notable works; but when the
collector has a moderate number he will be wise to cease his
miscellaneous buying and husband his resources for the occasional
purchase of a masterpiece. More pleasure is to be found in acquiring two
or three fine sheets a year than from the wholesale acquisition of
hundreds of insignificant works.

It is, however, well to define one's limits carefully. If one is not
able to expend from ten to a hundred pounds on a single print, one must
dismiss from one's mind the idea of owning an important Kiyonaga; for
that is the lowest sum at which one can hope to get it even with luck.
If an expenditure of thirty to eighty pounds is impossible, one must put
aside all idea of a Sharaku. But lesser treasures at lower prices are to
be had; let the collector only remember to take care that he gets the
best things he can afford even though his purchases be few, rather than
allow himself to be tempted into buying a great many of a cheaper kind.

Remarkable opportunities to acquire fine prints at low prices sometimes
occur, but they are rare. Certain prints may come up for sale only once
in a collector's lifetime. These exceptional examples must be seized
when they are offered; one of the characteristics of a great collector
is the ability to make these swift and often expensive decisions. He
must know the available supply of prints and the probability of having
another chance to get this particular sheet; if he estimates such a
recurrence as improbable, and if he esteems the print a masterpiece, he
must take it at any price he can afford to pay.

It is, after all is said, the masterpieces that bring the unwaning
satisfaction. Most collectors find that the few supreme treasures of
their collections give them more pleasure than all their other prints
put together. Therefore it is well for the inexperienced collector to
bear in mind that quality, not quantity, will prove his most profitable
aim. For it is one of the delightful characteristics of collecting that
the collector's perception is likely to grow continuously in fineness;
and the acquisitions of his earlier years may fail to satisfy his more
educated taste of later days. This will sometimes be true of even the
prints he once loved best; and much more is it likely to apply to those
which he bought merely because they were cheap or would increase the
bulk of his collection.

Discrimination is the life-blood of collecting. He who collects
everything collects nothing; he is the owner of a scrap-heap or a
second-hand shop, not of an ordered series of specimens that illustrate
historical or artistic ideas. The true collector would rather have ten
selected prints than the whole mass of prints now in existence, if in
the latter case he had to keep them all. Many a collection has been
improved both in monetary value and in power to give pleasure by merely
throwing out of it the second-rate things it contained.

The collector, as a rule, sets out in the beginning with little
knowledge and with no very definite notion of what he intends to
collect. If he is to profit by his efforts or is to end by having an
interesting group of possessions, he must before long define for himself
the idea of a collection and the conception which his own is to express.
He may decide to obtain at least one representative example of the work
of every important artist; or he may prefer to specialize, and assemble
all that he can of the works of a single man or a single period. A
certain well-known collector has selected Harunobu and Shunsho as his
special objects of interest, and has brought together a notable and
illuminating series of specimens of their work. Another has chosen
Hiroshige, and after many years of effort he can display to the student
a fine copy of almost every important print by that artist. A third has
especially sought the works of Kiyonaga; while a fourth has pursued the
less costly but very interesting aim of bringing together the sheets of
Kuniyoshi. Another is devoted to surimono; still another, to
pillar-prints. The possible list of specialities is inexhaustible.
Narrow and exclusive specialization is, however, uncommon among amateurs
of Japanese prints; and even the specialist tries to have in his
collection a few representative examples of all important types.

The inexperienced collector may find himself confused, amid so many
unfamiliar names, and fail to separate in his mind the notable artists
from those of secondary interest. A little study of the following list
will perhaps be of assistance. It contains thirty-two names, selected
from the three or four hundred mentioned in this book; each one in the
list is important, and a collection that contained even one fine example
by each of these designers would represent very fairly the whole scope
of the art. In fact, the beginner will not go far astray if at the
outset he confines his purchases to the work of the men here listed; he
will at least be saved from the danger of accumulating the productions
of unnoteworthy designers. The names preceded by two stars are the ten
outstanding figures whose historical and artistic importance makes it
imperative that they be adequately represented in any self-respecting
collection. Thirteen more names, preceded by one star, are of next
conspicuousness. A collection containing a really brilliant example by
each of these thirty-two men would cost from three hundred to three
thousand pounds to bring together, depending upon the quality and
importance of the prints selected.

_List of Principal Artists._

   * Buncho
   * Choki
  ** Harunobu
  ** Hiroshige I
  ** Hokusai
   * Kiyomasu
   * Kiyomitsu I
  ** Kiyonaga
   * Kiyonobu I
   * Kiyonobu II
  ** Koriusai
   * Kwaigetsudō
     Masanobu (Kitao)
  ** Masanobu (Okumura)
  ** Moronobu
  ** Sharaku
   * Shigemasa
   * Shigenaga
   * Shuncho
     Shunko (Katsukawa)
  ** Shunsho
   * Toyokuni I
   * Toyonobu (Ishikawa)
  ** Utamaro I
   * Yeishi

Collecting is to a certain extent creative; for the picture of the art
of Japanese prints that a collection presents is almost as definitely an
expression of a personal interpretation as is a book on the subject.
What the collectors treasure will be preserved; what they reject will
doubtless perish as valueless.

One of the collector's joys is the sense that he is laying by
immeasurable riches for posterity. Much remains for us still to learn
from Japanese prints; and any sheet in a collection may prove to be the
key that will some day unlock doors leading to treasure-chambers. Both
historically and æsthetically, the field of Japanese prints still offers
many undiscovered regions to the explorer. By making available the
material for such investigations, the collector performs a valuable

The collector's own satisfaction is not dependent upon the fact of
possession. To seek, to desire ardently, is not to covet; and the most
eager collectors are the very ones who most thoroughly enjoy a beautiful
print owned by another. Possession is an accident; but enjoyment is a
form of genius.

Collecting at its best is very far from mere acquisitiveness; it may
become one of the most humanistic of occupations, seeking to illustrate,
by the assembling of significant reliques, the march of the human spirit
in its quest of beauty, and the aspirations that were its guide. To
discover, preserve, relate, and criticize these memorials is the
rational aim of the collector. The joy of pursuit which he experiences
is a crude but delightful one; and discovery has the triumphant
sweetness of all successful effort. The act of restoring and preserving
is a pious service to the future, and a delicate handicraft. To arrange
examples in accurate relation to each other, and illustrate a conception
of complex history by means of concrete specimens, is a constructive
task that involves detailed knowledge and wide vision. And finally, the
attempt to appraise the spiritual values of the parts and the whole may
be an illuminating achievement, relating all this material to the
general stream of cultural development and to the history of the race.

The best way to study an art of the past is to collect examples of it.
The collector's historical sense is trained and his discriminative
powers are sharpened by his activities. As his education progresses, his
chief interest is in works of an ever higher quality. He attempts always
to acquire the best, and his knowledge of what is best is always
widening. His is the task of judging between degrees of perfection. It
differs not so very widely from that desperate search for an ideal
fulfilment which is the curse, the inspiration, and the one abiding joy
of the artist.

The artist's sense of triumph in an achievement must be only momentary;
if he continues long to regard his creation as admirable, he has reached
the stagnation of his powers and the end of his career; he must ever
hate to-day what he created yesterday, in order that he may be driven on
to produce a still finer thing to-morrow. The collector, also, must
eventually abandon his present position and move forward; and, tragic to
confess, perhaps his ultimate triumph comes on that day when the field
he long has loved ceases to suffice his growing sense of beauty, and he
sends his collection under the hammer, having mastered it and passed
beyond it. For every collector must in the end transcend his
collection, unless he is to perish in it as in some fatal Saragossa Sea.

A collection is a life-estate only, and the important question confronts
every collector as to what disposition shall be made of his possessions
after his death. My personal feeling is strongly against the bequest of
such a collection to a public institution. These prints are inherently
suited to private exhibition and not to public display. They must be
kept in portfolios, not hung up in galleries, or they fade. They must be
examined closely and at leisure; the spectator should be able, seated at
ease, to study them as he holds them in his hand. To walk through a
gallery of prints is only a slight pleasure; to sit in the library of
the collector and inspect and discuss the same prints one by one is a
great delight. Further, they require a degree of care that they would
not receive in the public institutions. The prints in most public
collections are repaired, mounted, and handled with a carelessness that
horrifies the collector. That painstaking skill in restoring,
preserving, and mounting to the best advantage, which means so much for
the ultimate effect of a print, is seldom, if ever, exercised except by
the private owner. It may be said that if these treasures are in private
hands, the public is deprived of them. This is untrue. The great body of
the public would pass them by in a gallery, for this is not a
spectacular or obtrusive art like sculpture. On the other hand, any
person who gives evidence of a reasonable degree of interest can not
only obtain free and willing access to all the private collections with
which I am familiar, but he may have at his disposal the services of the
owner of the collection to explain, interpret, and guide. There are at
present scores of highly trained men, of such cultivation as the museums
cannot afford to employ except in the highest positions, who are
spending weeks and months out of every year in this unpaid work of
serving the public; while in the great public collections the ordinary
inquirer is left adrift to find his way as best he can through the chaos
of an improperly arranged exhibit. In the public collections the prints
are of service or pleasure to almost nobody; while in the private
collections their service and pleasure to the owner and his friends is
great, and the same opportunities are easily opened to any one who is
qualified to profit by them. Therefore it seems better that, upon the
death of a collector, his prints should be sold; in order that, as
Edmond de Goncourt directed in the case of his collection, those
treasures which have been so great and so personal a delight to the
owner may pass on into the hands of such others as will find in them the
same satisfaction. "My wish is," he wrote in his will, "that my
drawings, my prints, my curios, my books--in a word those things of art
which have been the joy of my life--shall not be consigned to the cold
tomb of a museum, and subjected to the stupid glance of the careless
passer-by; but I require that they shall all be dispersed under the
hammer of the auctioneer, so that the pleasure which the acquiring of
each one of them has given me shall be given again, in each case, to
some inheritor of my own taste."


A variety of elements must be weighed in the mind of the collector
whenever he decides for or against the purchase of a particular specimen
to add to his collection.

THE ARTIST.--In the first place, the authorship of the print is an
important consideration. If the designer is a very great man like
Kiyonaga, or a very rare one like Kitao Masanobu, or both combined like
Shigemasa, these facts must be given weight. Other things being equal, a
print by an important leader such as Utamaro is more desirable than one
by a less original follower such as Banki. A Kiyonaga is a little
preferable to an equally beautiful Shuncho, because of Kiyonaga's prime
historical importance. The work of certain other men is prized by
collectors because of its scarcity; Chincho, for example, would be only
moderately valued were it not for the extraordinary rarity of his
designs. When rarity combines with greatness, as in the case of
Kwaigetsudō, Moronobu, Buncho, and Sharaku, the desirability of the
artist's work is naturally doubled in the eyes of the collector.

A print sometimes derives an unusual interest from the fact that it is
of a kind seldom produced by the particular artist who designed it.
Harunobu and Kiyonaga actor-prints are exceptional things, dating from
the early years of these men's careers. On the other hand, the
silver-prints of Utamaro, the triptychs of Kiyonaga, and the
yellow-background prints of Yeishi are desirable for the opposite
reason; they represent famous and characteristic aspects of the work of
their respective creators.

THE QUALITY OF THE DESIGN.--The impression produced upon the æsthetic
sense of the collector is the most vital of all the elements that
determine his choice. The composition, the drawing, the total beauty of
the design, will in each individual case have their importance; and upon
the collector's estimate of these qualities will depend his desire to
own the print. There are some dull and uninteresting designs by even the
most gifted men--work without charm or life. Shunsho was a great sinner
in this respect; so also were Utamaro and Toyokuni. On the other hand,
men of secondary importance produced occasional triumphs; a Yeisho or a
Yenshi is sometimes found in which the most brilliant qualities of
composition appear. Each print must be appraised on its own merits.

The collector generally passes by all designs in which clumsiness or
awkwardness is evident, and waits patiently for those in which the
force, or grace, or dignity of the composition proclaims the
masterpiece. Kiyonaga's "Terrace by the Sea," Sharaku's portrait of the
Daimyo Moronao, Hokusai's "Red Mountain," and Utamaro's "Firefly
Catchers" are examples of that unsurpassable quality which no
experienced collector willingly lets escape him.

THE QUALITY OF THE IMPRESSION.--Different copies of the same print
differ enormously in quality. The finest design is of little avail if
the work of the printer has not been judicious. Among early prints,
before Utamaro, really bad impressions are not very common, although
especially fine and brilliant ones are hard to obtain. Later,
particularly in the work of Hiroshige, the poor ones much outnumber the
good. In a good impression the lines are all sharp and clean: where the
hair meets the temples, every brush-stroke is clearly defined. The
blacks are rich and heavy, not sooty or streaked. The colours must be in
perfect register; that is, each must exactly fill its allotted space
without overlapping and without ragged edges. Prints in which these
defects occur are either careless impressions or late impressions from
worn blocks. Whichever be the explanation, they are not desirable; the
discriminating collector does not care to acquire any but perfectly
printed sheets. All the skill and devotion of the printer was needed to
make the resulting product a just interpretation of the conception of
the designer; in a bad impression the beauty of the design is ruined.

Prior to the nineteenth century it was the usual practice to give each
colour-block a uniform coat of pigment; thus each separate colour
impressed on the paper was completely flat and unshaded. In Hiroshige's
time, however, the pigment was often partially wiped from portions of
the block, so that in the resulting print the colour shades gradually
into the uncoloured white of the paper. Many of Hiroshige's prints
derive a considerable portion of their beauty from the subtlety of these

There are no such things as signed artist's proofs among Japanese
prints; but there is a class of prints that corresponds to them. They
are not labelled; nothing distinguishes them from the ordinary copies
except the extreme beauty of the printing. These rare impressions were
probably early ones made under the eye of the artist. The sharpness of
the lines, the harmony of the colours, and the delicacy of gradation in
any shaded portions are of a perfection lacking in the ordinary copies.
It took much care and time, and was therefore expensive, to produce such
work; and probably the majority of purchasers were unwilling to pay the
additional price entailed by this degree of attention. The few existing
copies of this character are exceptionally prized by the collector

The colour-schemes used in printing various copies of the same print
often differ widely, and there is considerable difference in
desirability on this ground alone. Some of Hiroshige's prints are found
in monochromes of blue or of grey--some of Hokusai's are in bluish
green. These rare and beautiful variations from the normal are highly
valued. On the other hand, the late prints of Hiroshige are generally
printed in raucous greens and reds and purples that are an offence to
the eye; and only rarely do we find copies of them in which a soft and
harmonious colour scheme reveals the intention of the artist. This
explains why certain prints from the "One Hundred Views of Yedo"
sometimes bring fifteen or twenty pounds apiece, though multitudes of
ordinary copies of the identical print can be purchased for a few
shillings each. Badly coloured examples of Hiroshige's work are
plentiful and of little value; harmonious and subtly modulated ones are
things of unsurpassable beauty, and almost as rare as Kiyonagas. The
collector of Hiroshige prints will scrutinize a specimen with the utmost
care to determine whether the colour scheme is harmonious, and whether
the pigments have been applied in the delicately graded luminous manner
that Hiroshige intended. If he finds that the various tones are harsh in
quality, or are printed in crude, unshaded masses, he will reject the
sheet. Considerable familiarity with really fine impressions is the only
safeguard in this matter. The beginner is only too ready to be led
astray by the charm of the design, not realizing how much this same
design is enhanced if given the expression of appropriate printing; and
he is very likely to find himself loaded down with worthless
impressions, the very sight of which is repugnant to him after he has
become familiar with fine copies of the same prints. Poor copies are
worth nothing; but choice ones are never really dear at any price.

In this matter more than in any other a fine collection differs from a
poor one, and it is in this that the discriminating collector has his
best chance to match his judgment against that of the dealer. Sometimes
one can for a few shillings select from a pile of worthless Hiroshiges a
notable impression that is worth twenty times the sum asked for it.

A generally accepted classification of prints from the point of view of
the quality of the impression would be convenient. There are to-day no
recognized terms by which to describe the various grades. I therefore
suggest a division into four groups with the following terminology:--

(_a_) _Artist's Impression._--Such a print as might have been produced
under the eye of the artist himself--every line clear and sharp, every
colour delicate and perfectly registered; the total effect exceptionally
luminous and harmonious; no possible subtlety of technique left to be

(_b_) _Fine Impression._--A clear, perfect impression such as a careful
printer would normally turn out at his best, but without that inspired
fineness in every detail which distinguishes Class (_a_).

(_c_) _Good Impression._--Such a print as would pass muster with the
ordinary buyer of that day--good, but not especially fine; clear, but
not notably sharp; pleasantly enough coloured, but not distinguished in
colour scheme. Very slight defects of register or of gradation will not
exclude a print from this class.

(_d_) _Late Impression._--One in which serious defects appear, such as
bad register, raw colour, blurred definition, or any other real error.

CONDITION.--The state of preservation is one of the most important
elements that the collector has to consider. Collectors of Japanese
prints do not as a rule pay much attention to questions of margin, but
they very properly insist that the effects of time and wear shall not be
such as to obliterate or diminish the original beauty of the work
itself. The print must not be cut down in size, and its face must be
unmarred. Stains, creases, tears, abrasions, discolorations and fading
are all defects of a serious nature. Only experience can enable one to
judge whether a certain print is of such rarity that one must waive
requirements as to condition and accept a defective copy. In the case of
the Primitives, flawless examples are so few that one must needs be
content with prints that show decidedly the effect of time. The same is
true of pillar-prints. On the other hand, there is no reason why one
should ever purchase a damaged Hiroshige, unless it be an exceptional
rarity like the "Monkey Bridge." On the whole, the experience of
collectors is that in every case of doubt the faulty print should be
rejected. For as one sees a print repeatedly one's consciousness of the
defect increases, and gradually the flaw becomes more obvious to one's
observation than anything else in the print.

In many cases prints that are in undamaged condition have nevertheless
acquired with age a peculiar deadness that may not be perceptible to the
careless eye. If such a print is placed beside a perfectly fresh one,
the difference is at once apparent. In the first case, though the
surface is unmarred, there is a slight yellowing of the fibres of the
paper that prevents their sending out that vibrating luminosity which is
a distinctive beauty in the immaculate copy. This absence of luminous
quality is so common that I mention it less to caution the collector
against it than to bid him be on his guard to seize the few luminous
prints that are offered him.

It is against the really brown prints that the novice should be warned.
The difference in market value between a chocolate coloured copy and a
brilliantly white copy is enormous, amounting in some cases to a
thousand per cent. Brilliant copies are excessively rare; and since they
are the only ones desired by the great collectors, they bring record

The whole question of condition is one of personal taste; collectors are
by no means agreed about it. European collectors have been, as a rule,
less insistent upon condition than have the Japanese and Americans.
There are collectors--though they grow fewer daily--who positively
prefer faded and "toned" prints, because of their softness. This view is
an ill-advised one.

I do not say that, if one can have none other, the damaged prints may
not give one pleasure and intimations of the original beauty that was
theirs; but I do affirm that such prints are but makeshifts, and that
their market value is, and always will be, very slight. When I began
collecting many years ago in Japan, I purchased a number of Hokusai
prints that were much blackened by exposure. I thought at the time that
any trace of the work of so famous a master was worth treasuring. But I
have found that my purchase was quite valueless, not only from the
commercial point of view, but also from the artistic, since they do not
represent the work of Hokusai with the slightest approach to adequacy.

Perfect condition conveys to us perfectly the artist's conception;
anything else obliterates or modifies his design. Though the beauty of
faded or damaged prints is often indisputable, and though some prints
are so saturated with beauty that a certain charm remains as long as any
trace of the printing is visible, yet these wrecks and fragments are not
the desirable specimens. The slight softening of the colours that almost
always comes with age is perhaps not detrimental; but when the
luminosity of the colours and the brilliant whiteness of the paper is
gone, an irreparable loss has been suffered. For the white spaces and
the reflective effect of the white fibres under the coloured spaces were
integral and vital elements in the artist's design; and one cannot say
that this is not injured when the paper has been turned to a dingy

Further, it is almost childish to prefer the time-changed colours to the
fresh ones. For surely, if these prints have any value at all, it is not
the kind of value that beautifully weather-marked pebbles have: their
significance lies in whatsoever spiritual values their designers put
into them. They are not curiosities of nature, but monuments erected by
the human spirit in its search for beauty. We go very far astray when we
admire what is in fact lamentable disintegration. To delight in the
faded tone of a print is like delighting in the cracks of the Sistine

The matter can be made clearer if we become specific. A certain blue of
Harunobu's changes, with exposure, to yellow; and the yellow sky or
river that results is anything but what the designer intended. A certain
white of Hiroshige's oxidizes into black; the effect is unfortunate as,
for instance in prints where we now see black snowflakes. The rich
orange beloved of Koriusai and Shunsho, and the delicate pink used by
Harunobu, Kiyonaga, and Shuncho, are transformed in the course of time
into rusty black; then in the place of the luminous rooms intended when
the artist planned his composition, we see dingy mottled caverns of mud.
The brilliant early purple turns brown; the still earlier rose colour
vanishes entirely. After all these changes, how is it possible to prefer
the faded print to the fresh one? The resulting accidental effects may
happen to be beautiful, but they have a destructive influence upon those
elements which alone make the prints worthy of our serious attention as
works of art. The only marvel is that they do not more completely ruin
the beauty of the artist's work.

The chemical disintegrations of which I speak are sometimes so great
that they are very misleading to the uninformed. A writer in the London
_Times_ of November 6, 1913, reviewing the exhibition at the Albert and
Victoria Museum, discovers an amazing mare's nest. "One colour alone
Harunobu neglects in common with all his predecessors and
contemporaries," he says. "It remained for the artists of the nineteenth
century to discover the possibilities of blue--a curious and hitherto
unnoted omission." Indeed, the omission had not been previously
noted--for the simple reason that it does not exist. Harunobu used blue
a great deal, almost always in depicting water or sky; Shunsho used it
repeatedly for sky, water, and draperies in the "Ise Monogatari," and as
a solid background in certain _hoso-ye_ actor-prints of which two, in
their startling pristine brilliancy, are in the Gookin Collection;
Koriusai used blue frequently in combination with his famous orange. But
the blue used by the early artists, particularly that of Harunobu and
Shunsho, was the most unstable of colours, and it is rare to find it
unaltered by time. Generally it has turned to a delicate grey or yellow
that is very beautiful, but very far from what the artist meant it to

A systematic classification of the various conditions in which a print
may be found will perhaps put the matter clearly before the beginner:--

1. _Publisher's State._--Without the slightest evidence of any change
since the hour it was printed; colours unaltered; paper absolutely new
and sparkling.

2. _Collector's State._--As a print might be after a few years in the
possession of a careful purchaser; perfect, except for having been
mounted or washed, or except for slight chemical change in the colours
due to time only and not to damage; paper white and clear.

3. _Good State._--Marred only by minor defects that would be
unnoticeable to casual observation--small worm-holes, slight tears or
creases, moderate fading of colours, or slightly rubbed surface; paper
toned but not brown.

4. _Ordinary State._--Still retaining its chief beauty in spite of
noticeable injury by tears, small stains, worn or faded colours, or
other damage; paper somewhat browned by exposure.

5. _Defective State._--Such injuries or colour changes as deprive the
print of its significance as a thing of beauty; paper browned or

RARITY.--The rarity of a print may be a factor in determining whether or
not it should be purchased. Not only does rarity affect monetary value,
but it sometimes indicates to the collector that this is perhaps the
only opportunity he will ever have to acquire this particular design.
The rain scene from Hiroshige's "Yedo Kinko Hakkei" has a higher value
than the equally beautiful rain scene from the "One Hundred Yedo
Series," for the simple reason that copies of the former are very few,
and that many collectors desire it because of its beauty. There is,
however, a danger into which many collectors fall, of esteeming rarity
as a precious element _per se_. Rarity alone, detached from other
elements of value or interest, is perhaps the most ridiculous element
that the human race has ever chosen to esteem.

ASSOCIATIONS.--Certain prints have an historical value that makes them
particularly interesting to the collector. For example, there is the
well-known triptych by Utamaro which, because of its portrayal of one of
the Shoguns in scandalous surroundings, was the cause of the
imprisonment and death of the artist. Also there is the famous memorial
portrait of Hiroshige by Kunisada, which is an especially desirable
possession because of its associations and because the subject is the
great landscape painter. Dated prints are of interest by reason of the
light they may throw on uncertain points in Ukioye history. Prints that
have belonged to famous collectors, Hayashi, Wakai, Fenollosa, and
others, derive a double interest from that fact; the association is
interesting, and the previous possession by a discriminating collector
confirms the present owner's estimate of the high quality of the print.
It should not, however, be forgotten that enterprising Japanese dealers
recognize this fact. A small red stamp can be made in Japan for about
two shillings; and a considerable number of prints now bearing the Wakai
and Hayashi seals never formed a part of these collections.

PRICES.--The subject of prices is one so complex and indeterminate that
one writes of it only with hesitancy. That which seems excessive to one
collector will be willingly paid by another. No stable standard exists;
I have had equally good copies of certain Hiroshige prints offered me at
prices as various as 10s. and £10. In discussing the matter, one can
give nothing more than an individual impression of the normal and usual
figures at which prints change hands to-day. Experience is the only
means by which a collector can equip himself on this subject. He will
acquaint himself with the prices asked by dealers and the prices at
which other collectors have obtained their specimens; and from these,
together with a careful study of auction sale catalogues, he forms his
judgment. Auction prices are likely, however, to be misleading unless
one sees the prints sold; for the fact that a certain print brought only
£3 at Sotheby's is no indication that another copy of the same print may
not be worth the £30 asked for it. Variations in condition and quality
of impression make vast differences in value. An Artist's Impression of
Hiroshige's famous Tokaido print, "Rain on Shono Pass," might bring £20;
a Fine Impression would perhaps sell for half that; a Good Impression
would be worth about £4; while a Late Impression would bring less than
£2. Similarly a Kiyonaga might vary from £40 to £4 on this account. In
the matter of condition there would be parallel differences. A rare
Kiyonaga or Utamaro triptych might vary as follows: Publisher's State,
£200; Collector's State, £100; Good State, £60; Ordinary State, £30;
Defective State, £5. A great Sharaku might, in the same way, be priced
at £100, £70, £50, £20, and £3; and a Harunobu at £60, £50, £20, £8, and
£3. Pillar-prints in perfect preservation are rare; therefore the
differences would be even greater; in the case of an exceptional
Koriusai, perhaps £30, £15, £10, £3, £1.

The following very rough generalizations may suggest something to the
inexperienced collector. Small Primitive sheets in fair condition can
seldom be obtained for less than £5 to £15; the rare large sheets and
Pillar-prints generally bring £20 to £100. These are minimum prices; for
special treasures such as Kwaigetsudō, prices may rise to several
hundred pounds.

Harunobu's work in perfect condition brings from £20 to £100. Shunsho
actors are sometimes to be had very cheap, for a pound or two; but the
finest designs will bring from £10 to £20. Buncho is rare; one may
expect to pay at least £15 to £40 for a fine example. Shunyei and Shunko
are about the same in price as Shunsho. A good Shigemasa is worth £20
to £50.

Kiyonaga is expensive; an attractive small sheet by him will cost £5 to
£15; a fine large sheet, £15 to £40; a triptych brings scores or
hundreds. Shuncho and the other Kiyonaga followers are only a little
less costly. A notable Sharaku is rarely obtainable for less than £40 to
£80. Shunman brings almost as much, as also does Kitao Masanobu.

Small or unimportant sheets by Yeishi, Yeisho, Utamaro, Choki, Toyokuni,
and Toyohiro can be had for a pound or two. From this level, prices go
up to several hundred pounds, which has been paid for Utamaro's "Awabi
Shell-Divers." Triptychs, silver-prints, and large heads by these men
are especially expensive, rising from £20 to much larger sums.

Two to five pounds will buy a fair Hokusai; £20 or more may be asked for
an unusually fine one, and certain rare treasures bring much more than
that. Prices for Hiroshige prints vary so with the quality of the
impression that generalizations are impossible. It can only be said that
the purchaser who gets a Hiroshige of the highest quality for £5 is
fortunate. On the other hand, it must be stated that fine Hiroshige
prints are often obtainable for considerably lower prices than this.

All these prices apply to the best prints in good condition. Dealers
frequently ask unreasonably high sums for second-rate designs or
defective copies; in such cases the collector should refuse to be made a

Experience alone can dictate to a collector what prices he may
prudently pay. In the most uniformly fine private collection I know--a
collection comprising only one hundred and fifty prints, but each one a
treasure--there are few, if any, sheets that cost less than £5, and many
that cost £20 to £40. Their value ten years from now may very possibly
be ten times those prices, so admirable has been the taste of this
particular amateur in selecting beautifully preserved masterpieces.

These figures need not terrify the beginner whose means are limited.
Specimens of great beauty may still be brought together with a small
expenditure of money, if accompanied by a large expenditure of taste and
judgment. For example, the book-sheets of Harunobu called "Serio Bijin
Awase," the sheets of Shunsho's "Ise Monogatari," the later upright
prints of Hiroshige, the pillar-prints of Koriusai--all of them works of
admirable quality--may sometimes be obtained with only a small outlay.
Their intrinsic proportionate worth, and the certainty of their
advancing in value, are almost as great as in the case of those rarer
treasures of Masanobu, Kiyonaga, and Sharaku which have been largely
pre-empted by the great collections, and which are now almost
prohibitive in price.

Yet it would not be a kindness to hold out to the novice the hope that,
with the expenditure of a few shillings, he can form an important
collection. Such a hope is a mistaken one. Great discretion is necessary
to obtain at a moderate price prints worth having at all. The cheap
prints are generally either the late and crude ones, or the badly
damaged ones. Both of these classes lack the one _raison d'être_ of
collecting--beauty. It is true that, as I have said, a really fine
Hiroshige may still sometimes be picked up for a song, but such
opportunities are rare; they must be waited for a long time, and must be
seized with instant determination when they come. The collector who is
not well informed is more than likely to find, after a short period of
triumph over his bargain, that his copy is a late and poor impression,
and that even the beauty of composition will not permanently satisfy him
in the absence of fine and appropriate printing. In this connection it
should be remembered that while the finest prints are generally more
valuable than their cost, the second-rate prints are generally worth
nothing whatsoever.

If one has adequate experience, one can well hunt for these
opportunities of which I speak. Or if one is unable to pay the normal
prices for fine works, one is obliged to lie in wait for them. The
average collector will, however, find that in the course of years he
gains more by paying normal prices to high-class dealers for the best
prints than by seeking in the byways for dubious bargains of speculative

It is true that the prices set upon the finest prints are at present
high. Recent years have seen an enormous advance in values. For example,
I have known £300 to be asked for a copy of the "Monkey Bridge"; £60 for
a superb copy of the Kiso Snow Mountains Triptych; and several other
prints by Hiroshige have changed hands at £60 apiece. These prices of
course applied only to remarkably, and perhaps uniquely, fine copies.
In the last edition of his volume, "Japan and its Arts," Mr. Marcus B.
Huish remarks that prints have "risen to extravagant prices--prices
sober-minded people consider altogether beyond their worth." This is a
matter of individual opinion. A good Hiroshige at £5, or a Kiyonaga at
£20 will seem to many people less extravagant than a "proof" mezzotint
by Smith from Reynold's "Mrs. Carnac" at seven hundred guineas, or
Rembrandt's etching of "Jan Six" at £3,000. In fairness to Mr. Huish,
however, we must continue the quotation. "But these prices," he says,
"have been paid by the Directors of Museums and other astute persons who
do not expend the limited means at their disposal unless they feel well
assured that they (the prints) will in the future be either unobtainable
or at enhanced prices." This is quite true. There is no indication that
the values of Japanese prints will ever be lower than they are to-day;
on the contrary, they have been rising swiftly and steadily for twenty
years, and great advances in value may be expected. To these advances
many forces are already contributing. Every year a certain number of
prints are accidentally destroyed, decreasing the total available
supply. No further supplies of large numbers can be expected from Japan,
which has been ransacked with all the thoroughness of skilled searchers
armed with the lure of high prices. In fact, prices in Japan to-day are
probably higher than prices in London; at least, higher prices are asked
for inferior prints. The finest prints bring about the same price
everywhere. Each year the great museums of the world acquire by
purchase or bequest prints which are thus forever removed from the
market. Each year the number of persons who appreciate prints is
growing; and there is a continual increase in the number of wealthy
collectors who can and will pay almost any price to obtain what they
desire. One may be prepared to look back, in twenty years, with mingled
amazement and regret as he contemplates what will then seem the absurdly
low prices asked for the greatest treasures to-day.

Therefore, without serious doubt, the prudent collector will not suffer
because of his present acquisitions. It should, however, always be borne
in mind that the very finest prints--those which seem most expensive
to-day--are the ones that will rise most rapidly in value as time
passes. Poor impressions, soiled copies, and second-rate compositions
will never be very rare; but the supremely fine sheets--scarce enough
now--will grow scarcer with every year.

Nevertheless, collecting as an investment is not advocated. If the
collector is not moved by the delight he gets from the æsthetic
qualities of the prints, he had far better leave them entirely alone.
Nothing but the passion of real enthusiasm and perception will enable
him to select the best works; and without this selection his prints are
not likely to be of much ultimate value. When, however, the collector
makes his acquisitions out of pure love for their beauty, it is right
and prudent that he should consider their value in later years. Such a
collector need have no fear; what was to him a delight and a
dissipation will probably in the end prove to his heirs an investment of


The collector must be constantly on his guard against reprints,
forgeries, and reproductions. These are not as common as some writers
believe; but they exist.

Reprints are impressions made at a time so long after the original
edition that they have not the original colouring. The register of such
prints is generally faulty, and the lines are not sharp. So long as the
blocks are in existence these reprints are possible. Early reprints are
merely late editions of the originals, and are not objectionable if the
blocks have not become worn; but late ones are undesirable. A print made
to-day from the original blocks of Harunobu, did they exist, would have
no value.

Forgeries are works produced in the style and over the signature of some
famous artist. Since they have no prototype among the artist's real
works, they present difficulties of their own; there is no genuine copy
of the same print with which to compare them. They are very rare; their
chief occurrence is in the cases of Harunobu and Utamaro.

Reproductions are prints made from new blocks cut in imitation of the
original ones. For unknown reasons a second edition of certain prints
sometimes was made very shortly after the first, from re-cut blocks.
These prints have no necessary difference in beauty or value from those
of the first edition. But such cases are few. Far commoner are the
reproductions proper--most of them copies made within the last
twenty-five years, sometimes with fraudulent intent, and sometimes
merely as honest commercial copies. In either case, they may be used
fraudulently by a present owner.

The ordinary modern reproduction is not difficult to detect. It is
generally on a harder, brittler paper than a genuine print. The feeling
of the paper between one's fingers is more like that of our
wrapping-paper than like that of the old soft papers used by the Ukioye
artists. Its surface is compact and glassy, not spongy and pliant. It
has a starchy stiffness, and lacks the soft, luminous tone of the
genuine. Generally the lines of the block are clumsily cut, lacking the
grace and strength of the original; and a careful and minute comparison
with an original impression of the same print will invariably show
difference in small details of the lines. Even the Japanese are not
skilful enough to cut a new block precisely like the old one.

The colours of a reproduction constitute perhaps the most definite
danger signal. They are, as a rule, flat and dead, lacking the soft
brilliancy of the old colours. Very seldom are they graded with care--a
repellent harshness marks them. Particularly does the blue lack the life
and depth of the genuine blue; and the red and yellow are likely to be

Freshness and perfect preservation are never, in the absence of other
signs, to be regarded as evidence of recent production. Conversely, it
is only the merest bungler who regards worm-holes or faded, browned,
and damaged condition as any evidence of age. The Japanese use
tea-leaves and various other devices to give this time-worn appearance
to the most flagrant reproductions. For all I know, they may have
trained worms to eat holes. These damaged, tea-soaked prints would be
almost worthless even if they were genuine. The stray tourist in Japan,
however, customarily accumulates a large number of these soiled tatters,
fearing to touch the fresh-looking copies. And the Japanese willingly
calm his fears by soaking and soiling their reprints.

There are, however, a few reproductions of so fine a quality that
detection is extremely difficult. These are the sheets over which
experts shake their heads and go away muttering, to return for councils
and deliberations and sometimes total disagreement. There exists in an
American collection a certain Kiyonaga print which half a dozen experts
believe to be a modern fraud, though another half-dozen are prepared to
defend its authenticity until Judgment Day. Work of this quality is
expensive to produce, and the price asked for it is therefore always

Certain specific reproductions are to be guarded against. Many
fraudulent copies of Hiroshige's "Monkey Bridge" and "Kiso Snow Gorge"
are on the market; all those I have ever seen are so poor in colour and
so different in line-details that it seems incredible that anyone should
be deceived. Several of the Tokaido Set have been imitated, rather
poorly; and also some of the Birds and Flowers. Quite recently, there
has appeared a remarkable Lake Biwa set, produced with such beauty and
skill that several of the greatest authorities in the world were at
first deceived by it. Hokusai's "Imagery of the Poets," "Waterfalls,"
"Thirty-six Views of Fuji," and "Loocho Islands," have been reprinted;
the colours and the lines are a little imperfect; and no one who uses
care need be misled by them. They are, however, good enough to be
dangerous to the beginner. Utamaro's most famous works, particularly the
"Awabi Shell-Divers" triptych, have been reprinted fairly well. Perilous
imitations of several of the Primitives are extant; the stiff paper is
almost the only means of detection. Sharaku has been reprinted
dangerously well; one lately discovered fraudulent print of his sold for
a high price at Sotheby's some years ago, and subsequently passed
unquestioned through the hands of a dozen English and American experts,
until finally an accidental comparison of it with a genuine sheet
revealed points of difference. Another copy of this same reproduction
remains to this day as the treasured possession of a well-known English

Possibly the most dangerous of all forgeries and reprints are those of
Harunobu's small square prints, for they have sometimes been produced
with notable skill. Even the greatest experts have been deceived by
them. Fenollosa, at No. 131 of the Ketcham Catalogue, describes in the
most glowing terms, as "the central point of all Ukioye," a print which
its present owner has found to be a reproduction, not thirty years old,
and has discarded from his collection.

The reputable dealers, often men of much experience, never offer
reproductions for sale, though they, like any one else, may
occasionally be deceived by the finest of the fraudulent ones. They use
their best skill to protect their customers, and the protection is
generally efficient. If, however, a dealer is unwilling to give
assurance in writing that the print is genuine, or if his stock contains
more than the two or three reproductions accountable for on the ground
of bad judgment, he should be avoided as untrustworthy.

The experienced collector, who has seen and handled tens of thousands of
prints, becomes accustomed to the texture of the various papers, the
tones of the various colours, and the contours of line-cutting. His
familiarity produces in him a sixth sense which is his instinctive guide
in the detection of frauds. Later investigation may define his original
impression and prove it to have been correct; but in the first instance
he relies on intuition. The less experienced collector has no such
guide; and he should realize that he has not, and not try to evolve one
from his inner consciousness. Nothing is more ludicrous than to see such
a person in a print-shop in Japan. He turns over pile after pile of
prints, selecting those which his judgment tells him are "really old."
What he generally means is, "really dirty." Advice from bystanders is
not often welcomed by him, and the only peaceable thing one can do is to
leave him to his own curious devices. There is a certain malicious
pleasure to be obtained in going through the piles such a collector has
discarded, and selecting from them, as one sometimes can, a flawlessly
preserved copy of some fine print which he passed by as too
fresh-looking to be anything but fraudulent. But when he returns to his
hotel at night and exhibits triumphantly the treasures he has garnered
during the day, it would be a hard heart that could do anything but keep
silent and weep inwardly. The sixth sense can be relied on only if one
has had much experience. If one is inexperienced, the safe way is to ask
expert advice.

For the experienced collector I venture to suggest only one maxim. If
vaguely suspicious of a print, but unable to tell exactly why, discard
the print. Your whole accumulated experience is indefinably expressing
itself in your suspicion; and nine times out of ten it is right.


When a print is once properly prepared and mounted, it needs no further
care except protection from injury. Prolonged exposure to sunlight is
not desirable, since fading may result; dampness is to be guarded
against because of the danger of mildew, a terrible foe; care in
handling must be exercised, so that the print be not rubbed, creased, or
torn. But if these elementary precautions are employed, the print will
take care of itself.

It may be worth while for the benefit of the beginner to trace the steps
that are taken by a collector between the time when he becomes the owner
of a new print and the time when he puts it away in his portfolios as an
established part of his collection.

The first step is to examine the print with care and ascertain what, if
any, processes are necessary to prepare it for mounting. If the
condition of the sheet is flawless, nothing is required. If its
condition is in one way or another defective, it is the task of the
collector to determine whether any operation within his command can
remedy the defect, and to decide how he will accomplish his end.

This is perhaps a proper place to caution the inexperienced, and in some
cases even the experienced collector, against acts of vandalism. To cut
down, colour, or otherwise mutilate a print, is one of those
unforgivable offences which often demonstrate conclusively how easy it
is for a fool to destroy in five minutes the achievement of a genius's
lifetime. One well-known collector, now dead, boiled his Harunobus in
paraffin to give them lustre; another painted branches into the
pillar-prints of Koriusai; another cut down the size of his Hiroshiges,
leaving only those portions that particularly pleased him. If the
feelings of later collectors have any potency in heaven, these men are
now in hell. Not only is any attempt to improve upon the artist's work a
contemptible piece of presumption, but even the mere effort to repair
damages inflicted by time may be an unwise venture. Frequently such
injuries could be remedied by an expert were it not that some preceding
bungler, with the best intentions in the world, has, out of sheer
inexperience, made the injuries irreparable. For example, if a print
comes into the expert's hands untouched he can literally slice off a
microscopic layer of the paper and thus remove a bad surface-spot; but
if the paper has been tampered with by ignorant attempts to erase, he
is helpless. Tears, stains, abrasions, and chemical decomposition may
yield to skilful treatment; but unless one knows with the utmost
exactitude what he expects to accomplish and how he intends to proceed
at every step, he had best leave the matter strictly alone, or entrust
it to other hands.

If the collector will remember that, though he is the present owner of
his prints, he is not the final owner, he will be impelled to move with
caution in his handling of them. Long after he is dead and forgotten,
generations of lovers of beauty will treasure the sheets he once owned,
and he will deserve their reproaches or their thanks according to the
respect he has shown for these works. He is custodian for posterity, and
his trust is one worthy of careful thought. He cannot do better than
bear constantly in mind what should be the golden rule for collectors in
all fields: Make no repairs, institute no changes, that cannot be
altered; never do anything to a work of art that cannot be undone by its
next owner.

Trim no margins; it is easy to mat them. Do not try to make more decent
the objectionable rendering of a nude; sell the print to some one who
does not find this rendering objectionable. If the colour has faded out,
do not try to paint it in; possibly some one else may find the mere
black-and-white composition beautiful, and he may prefer to see even the
faded work of Kiyonaga rather than Kiyonaga plus the improvizations of a
doubtless less illustrious designer.

No one needs such cautions as little as do the few experts whose
experience renders them competent to attempt what are almost capital
operations. They are, of all collectors, the most reluctant to essay any
manipulation whatsoever. To witness the repeated examinations and
deliberations which the competent workman expends on so simple a
question as whether or not a certain black spot shall be restored to its
original orange hue is to learn a serious lesson.

The first of the steps to be taken in improving the condition of a print
will generally be washing. If a print is badly wrinkled or creased, or
if it appears to have dust and dirt on its surface, a bath is the best
possible thing for it. A perfectly fresh print should never be washed;
nothing is to be gained by it, and much may be lost. For in many cases a
little of the colour will come out in the course of the process, and the
brilliance of the print will suffer slightly. Certain prints should be
washed only if it is absolutely necessary. Harunobu prints with
transparent red in them, Shuncho's that have purple, and any print that
contains a delicate pigment known to collectors as "surimono blue,"
should be kept out of water if possible. These colours are not fast, and
they are likely to go down in tone, or even run over into the adjoining
parts of the print. The yellows and greens are as a rule unchanging, but
a large number of the other colours are subject to modification,
particularly in the work of the Kiyonaga and Utamaro Periods. The prints
of Hiroshige and Hokusai generally undergo no change.

Prints with silver backgrounds should not be washed, and pillar-prints
that consist of two joined sheets of paper should be kept in water only
long enough to become wet through; longer immersions will cause the
sheets to separate, and necessitate troublesome work in rejoining them.

The process of washing is simple. A large vessel--a prosaic bath-tub is
as good as anything--is filled with luke-warm water, and the print is
put in and allowed to soak for a few minutes. If another sheet of paper
has been pasted on the back of the print, this is carefully peeled off
after the paste has become thoroughly wet. Adhering daubs of paste may
be rubbed off with the fingers. Sometimes a very brown and dirty print
can be cleaned a little by spreading it out while wet on a sheet of
glass and applying a solution of some good washing-soap. Such a
proceeding should be resorted to only in case of extreme dirtiness; and
prolonged soaking in clear water should follow.

When the washing is finished, the print is lifted from the water and
allowed to drain for a few seconds, and is then carefully spread face
downwards on a fresh sheet of heavy unglazed cardboard of the kind known
as "blank." By means of a large damp brush or a delicately handled
cloth, the back of the print is smoothed out so that it lies perfectly
flat and even. Another sheet of cardboard is then placed on top of it,
and the two sheets, with the print between them, are put away under
heavy weights, such as two or three portfolios, and allowed to remain
untouched for twenty-four hours or more. A good deal of dirt, and
unfortunately a little colour, will generally soak out of the print and
into the cardboard. When dry, the print peels neatly away from the
cardboard, with its surface freshened and smoothed, sometimes almost

Thin, worn, or disintegrated prints are difficult to handle during these
processes; when wet, they tear like damp cigarette-paper. Sometimes
prints that have been damaged and skilfully mended will float away in
two or three pieces upon immersion. These and other possible troubles
make it advisable that the inexperienced collector venture not too
boldly in trying experiments. At least let him begin on prints of no

After the print is dry, worm-holes or tears can be mended either by
patching or inlaying. Generally it is best to dampen the paper before
attempting this. The simplest form of repair is to paste back of the
hole a small piece of paper of the same colour as the print. A collector
will have on hand a number of worthless damaged prints of various
shades, out of which he cuts pieces for this purpose. Inlaying is more
difficult; it involves either inserting a piece of paper cut to match
the hole exactly, or inserting loose paper-pulp which is moulded to fill
the hole. Both processes require more skill than the average collector
can master, and are best left to the expert.

Stains and spots present difficult problems. Some are superficial, and
can be gradually sliced off with a very sharp thin knife--an operation
that will invariably result in the ruin of the print if tried by a
novice. Minute knowledge of the behaviour of the curious fibrous
Japanese paper is necessary for success; the expert generally works
under a glass, and prays continuously while he works. Stains that have
soaked deeply into the paper are almost hopeless. Mildew discoloration
is ineradicable. Grease-spots sometimes yield to ether, benzine, or
other common solvents. The use of these is, however, a desperate remedy;
they may spoil the print even if they remove the spot.

Certain chemical changes in the pigments can be reversed, and the
original colour restored. The blackening of _tan_, that orange pigment
used by Koriusai and many other artists, can be removed and the original
brilliance brought back. The same is true of a certain white that
blackens with time. The processes employed are, however, easily capable
of misuse; and the few persons who know the methods prefer not to make
them public.

If a portion of a print is missing, due to a tear or to the ravages of
moths, it is legitimate and desirable to tint the paper that is used to
fill in the hole so that it matches its surroundings. Water-colours and
a fine brush are employed. But on no account should the surface of the
print itself be painted; if the colour has worn off in spots, any
attempt to restore it will merely increase the damage still further.

A very thin print, or one that has been torn in several places, is best
treated by pasting on the back of it while damp a dampened sheet of
thin, tough Japanese paper. The operation, simple as it sounds, is
difficult and requires practice to produce a smooth result.

Some collectors paste down the four edges of their prints on thin
sheets of cardboard to preserve their flatness. The practice is an
undesirable one; it prevents any examination of the back of the print;
and does not achieve its end, since the print and the mount expand and
contract differently, and wrinkles are almost sure to appear eventually.
The better practice is to apply a mere touch of paste to the two upper
corners of the print, and affix these lightly to the mount. Over this is
then placed a mat, with a hole cut to fit the print exactly, covering
and holding down the print's edges, and protecting it from abrasions.
The size of the mount and mat is determined by individual taste; 3 or 4
inches margin would seem to be the minimum desirable. After many
experiments I have adopted 22½ × 15½ inches as the size for my own
collection. Mr. Gookin prefers 25 × 16; but he also finds 23 × 15½
satisfactory if the economy of space is any object. As to thickness,
tastes also differ; the mount should be at least thick enough not to
bend much with ordinarily careful handling. Heavy Japanese Vellum makes
the best mats; it is expensive, but it greatly enhances the appearance
of the prints.

For triptychs and pillar-prints, a much larger and heavier mount is
required than in the case of ordinary sheets. If the collector has only
a few of the former, he may prefer to mount the three sheets separately,
for convenience in storing, and place the three mounts side by side only
when exhibiting them. If the two end sheets are mounted so that they
come very close to the right and to the left-hand edges of their
respective mounts, the effect of the three assembled is by no means bad;
and the ease of handling them is an advantage. Only the most perfectly
matched triptychs can in any case dispense with the necessity of narrow
strips left in the mat to cover the junction-edges of the sheets.

Some collectors have card-catalogues in which they keep all information
relating to each print. Others use the bottom of the mount under the mat
for that purpose. For a large collection the former is preferable; for a
small one, the latter.

The mounted prints are best kept in portfolios or Solander-boxes, laid
flat on shelves and protected from dust as much as possible. Within the
portfolio or box, the arrangement that is most useful is the
chronological one.

There have been in the past several collections, such as the Hayashi and
Wakai, whose owners felt it to be appropriate that they stamp their
private seals upon the face of each print held by them. It is useless to
comment upon the wisdom or unwisdom of their course; for the thing is
done, and many a fine print is now indelibly branded with these
insignia. But it may be pointed out that the present practice of
reputable collectors does not sanction such acts. Should any collector
who happens to read these lines contemplate thus immortalizing himself,
I suggest that he seriously consider whether even one small seal is not
a disturbing factor when injected into a design so subtly calculated as
the finest prints.

Further, if one collector may so stamp his prints, all others surely
have a similar privilege; and if the habit became universal, what would
be the appearance of a print which, in the next two hundred years,
should pass--as a print might easily pass--through the hands of twenty
collectors? And lastly, is there not a certain betrayal of petty conceit
when the mere temporary owner of a great work of art judges the fact of
his brief ownership to be of such importance that future generations
must be told of it; and so places his own emblem beside that of the
creator of the print--beside the name of the immortal Kiyonaga or


The day is coming--perhaps it is already here--when the Japanese Print
will become the spiritual possession of a wider circle than that limited
group of collectors who have been devoted to it in the past. Alien
though this art is, it has power to penetrate to regions of the mind
which Western art too often leaves unvisited.

Much is said unwisely about the elevating and educative power of art.
The man in the street has come to believe that the elevating force
resides in the theme which a work of art presents--that a picture of
Galahad riding for the Grail is a lofty thing, and that a picture of the
wings of the theatre during a ballet is a base one. Hence has arisen
that unspeakably childish modern school of middle-class painters whose
"pictures with a story"--generally a sentimental or edifying story--are
the terror of the art-lover. After them, no wonder that even the
Cubists came as a relief.

As every artist knows, the elevating power that resides in the mere
subject of a picture has at best no more force than a moral maxim; the
mind may assent to it, but the heart is unmoved. The same may be said in
the case of a poem. The glory of poetry is not that it furnishes
elevated sentiments in rhyme for public speakers to quote, but that it
embodies music and thought combined in so fitly proportioned and
expressive a structure that the reader carries away with him a certain
acquaintance with perfection and a lasting desire for ideal beauty in

Thus it is only through its power to cultivate the spectator's sense of
form that art may be called elevating. Close familiarity with the
productions of great artists gradually develops in the spectator an
understanding of proportion, harmony, and conscious design, evoking in
him the ability to perceive and even create order and freedom.

Because of the fact that the best Japanese prints are so superb an
expression of the sense of form, they may be rated high as cultural
agents. In them the eye finds little or no distraction occasioned by
mere subject. Here speak the pure elements of artistic creation,
liberated from combination with elements of accidental and personal
charm. They contain the quintessence of all those harmonious and
significant qualities which men desire of life. He who really takes them
into his consciousness will be repelled by disorder, dullness, and
indeterminateness all his days. And probably the world will be saved by
its hatred of these things. Therefore the Japanese print cannot be
regarded as primarily a pattern for future designers of wood-engraving;
it appears to have a far wider and deeper office to perform.



Actors, 134, 304, 306

Anchi, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Ando, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Anshin, _see_ Yasunobu

Ashikuni, 356

Ashimaro, 299

Ashiyuki, 356

Banki, 298

Banto, 173

Bokusen, 375

Buddhism, 55

BUNCHO, 185, 209, 426

Bunkaku, _see_ Okumura Masanobu

Bunro, 299

Chikamaro, _see_ Kiosai

Chikanobu, 299

Chikashige, 353

Chincho, 91

Chiryu, 173

CHOKI, 319, 427

Chōshō, _see_ Nagamatsu

Condition, 418

Courtesan, _see_ Yoshiwara

Denroku, 108

Dohan, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Doshin, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Doshu, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Forgeries, 432

Fujinobu, 108, 173

Furuyama, 75

Fusanobu, 108

Fuyo, 299

Gakutei, 374

Gangakusai, 375

Genpachi, _see_ Okumura Masanobu

Genroku Era, 65, 134

Genshichi, 80

Ginsetsu, _see_ Fusanobu

Gogaku, _see_ Gakutei

Gokei, 375

Gokyo, 278

Goshichi, 299

Gosotei, 351, 398

Gyokushi, 157

Hanamaro, 299

Hanzan, 356

Haruhiro, _see_ Koriusai

Haruji, 173

Harumachi, _see_ Utamaro II

Harumitsu, 234

Harunobu, 129, 136, 208, 422, 426

Harushige, 171

Harutoshi, 108

Harutsugu, 173

Hasegawa Toun, 75

Hidemaro, 299

Hirosada, 356

HIROSHIGE I, 357, 375, 415, 426

Hiroshige II, 397

Hiroshige III, 398

Hisanobu, 299

Hōgetsudō, _see_ Okumura Masanobu

Hokkei, 374

Hokuba, 375

Hokuga, 375

Hokuju, 374

Hokumio, 356

HOKUSAI, 258, 379, 427

Hokushu, 356

Hokusui, 375

Hokutai, 375

Hokutei, 375

Hoku-un, 375

Hokuyei, 375

Hokuyo, 375

Hōriu, 173

Isai, 375

Ise Monogatari, 56, 182

Isomaro, 299

Iyeyasu, 49

Juzan, 375

Kagetoshi, 356

Kako, _see_ Hokusai

Kammyō, _see_ Okumura Masanobu

Kanamaro, 299

Kano School, 50, 52, 54

Katsukawa School, 129

Katsumasa (Kichikawa), 95

Katsumasa (Yoshimura), 75

Katsunobu, 95

Keiju, 375

Keisai, _see_ Masayoshi

Keri, 375

Kichi, 75

Kikumaro I, 298

Kikumaro II, 298

Kiosai, 353

Kisen, 173

Kitamaro, 299

Kiyoaki, 92

Kiyofusa, 84, 123, 354

Kiyoharu (Torii), 124

Kiyoharu (Kondo Sukegoro), 92

Kiyohide (Torii), 124

Kiyohide II, 234

Kiyohiro, 123

Kiyohisa, 234

Kiyokatsu, 234

Kiyokuni, 353

Kiyomasa, 234

KIYOMASU, 84, 88

Kiyomine, 84, 123, 354

KIYOMITSU, 84, 116

Kiyomitsu II, _see_ Kiyomine

Kiyomitsu III, _see_ Kiyofusa

Kiyomoto (Torii), 124

Kiyomoto II, 355

KIYONAGA, 84, 217, 241, 259, 405, 426



Kiyonobu (Kondo), 95

Kiyorō, 95

Kiyosada I, 355

Kiyosada II, 354

Kiyosato, 124

Kiyoshige, 91

Kiyosomo, 92

Kiyotada I, 91

Kiyotada II, 355

Kiyotada III, 355

Kiyotomo, 92

Kiyotei, 234

Kiyotoki, 234

Kiyotoshi, 124

Kiyotsugi, 234

Kiyotsune (Torii), 124

Kiyotsune II, 234

Kiyoyasu, 355

Kiyoyuki, 234

Kogan, 173

Kokan, _see_ Shiba Kokan

Komatsuken, 173

KORIUSAI, 157, 159

Kuniaki, 353

Kuniao I, 353

Kuniao II, 353

Kunichika, 353

Kunifusa, 353

Kunihana, 353

Kunihiko, 353

Kunikane I, 353

Kunikane II, 353

Kunihiro, 353

Kunihisa, 353

Kunikatsu, 353

Kunikiyo, 353

Kunimaro, 299

Kunimaru I, 353

Kunimaru II, 353

Kunimasa I, 318, 352

Kunimasa II, _see_ Kunisada II

Kunimasa III, _see_ Kunisada III

Kunimichi I, 353

Kunimichi II, 353

Kunimitsu, 353

Kunimune, 353

Kuninaga, 353

Kuninobu I, 173

Kuninobu II, 353

Kunisada I, 351

Kunisada II, 352

Kunisada III, 352

Kunitada, 353

Kunitaka, 353

Kunitohisa, 353

Kunitaki, 353

Kunitane, 353

Kunitera, 353

Kuniteru, 353

Kunitoki, 353

Kunitora, 353

Kunitsugi I, 353

Kunitsugi II, 353

Kunitsuma, 353

Kuniyasu I, 353

Kuniyasu II, 399

Kuniyoshi, 375

Kuniyuki, 353

Kuzayeimon, 108


Kyōden, _see_ Kitao Masanobu

Kyosen, 157

Kyuyeimon, 108

Landscape, 356

Magosaburo, _see_ Shigenaga

Mangetsudō, 105

Masafusa, 105

Masanobu (Hishikawa), 75

MASANOBU (Kitao), 248, 427

MASANOBU (Okumura), 95

Masanojo, 75

Masataka, 75

Masayoshi, 250

Masks, 304

Masunobu (Tanaka), 92, 173

Masunobu II, 92, 172

Matabei, 58, 73

Mazunobu, 95

Michimaro, 299

Minemaro, 299

Minko, 173

Mitemaro, 299

Mitsunobu, 95

Morikuni, 75

Morobei, 75

Morofusa, 75

Moromasa, 75

Moromori, 75

Moronaga, 75


Moroshige, 75

Morotada, 124

Morotane, 75

Morotsugi, 75

Motonobu, 105

Muranobu, 173

Nagahide I, 108

Nagahide II, 328

Nagamatsu, 328

Nagayoshi, _see_ Choki

Nichiren, 58

Niho, 375

Nishimura School, 105

Nō Drama, 303

Norihide, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Norishige, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Noritatsu, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Nudes, 115, 123, 222

Oiran, _see_ Yoshiwara

Omume, 92

Osaka School, 355

Osawa, 75

Otsu-ye, 67

Pillar Prints, 100, 123, 151, 164, 233

Primitives, 63, 127, 207, 426

Polychrome, 140

Printing, 40, 414

Prices, 425

Ranko, 356

Renshi, 375

Rihei, 108

Riusen, 75

Riushu, 75

Rosen, 157

Ryokin, 58

Ryujo, 75

Ryukoku, 299

Ryusai, 375

Ryushi, 173

Sadafusa, 356

Sadaharu, 108

Sadahide, 400

Sadahiro, 356

Sadakage, 356

Sadamasa, 356

Sadamasu, 356

Sadanobu (Hasegawa), 356, 399

Sadanobu (Tamura), 92

Sadatora, 356

Sadatoshi, 95

Sadayoshi, 356

Sanchō, 234

Seiko, 173

Sekicho, 299

Sekiga, 198

Sekiho, 299

Sekijo, 299

Sekiyen, 285, 320

Sekkyo, 299

Sencho, 353

Senga, 157

Senka, 299

Senkwado, _see_ Shigenaga

SHARAKU, 194, 260, 299, 323, 405, 426

Shiba Kokan, 156, 171

Shigefusa, 108

Shigeharu, 108

SHIGEMASA, 182, 199, 201, 426

Shigemasa III, _see_ Yoshimaro I


Shigenobu (Hirose), 108

Shigenobu (Ichiusai), _see_ Hiroshige II

Shigenobu (Kawashima), 75

Shigenobu (Nishimura), 105, 107

Shigenobu (Ryūkwado Ichiichido), 108

Shigenobu (Tsunegawa), 107

Shigenobu (Yamamoto), 108

Shigenobu (Yanagawa), 297, 374

Shigeyama, 375

Shiko, _see_ Choki

Shoha, 173

Shoshin, _see_ Masayoshi

Shikimaro, 298

Shiro, _see_ Kiyonobu II

Shoyu, 198

Shimbei, 75

Shinsai, 375

Shintoku, 299

Shoshoken, _see_ Komatsuken

Shucho, 298

Shuha, _see_ Ishikawa Toyonobu

SHUNCHO (Katsukawa), 237, 427

Shuncho (Koikawa), _see_ Utamaro II

Shunbeni, 353

Shundo, 198

Shunkaku, 198


Shunki, 198

Shunkio, 198

Shunkiosai, 299

Shunjo, _see_ Shunyei

Shunkō (Harumitsu), _see_ Harumitsu

SHUNKO (Katsukawa), 197, 426

Shunko II, 198, 234

Shunko (Kichosai), 198

Shunkyoku, 198

Shunri, 198

Surimono, 373

Shunrin, 198

SHUNMAN, 246, 427

Shunro, _see_ Hokusai

Shunshi, 356

Shunsei, 198

Shuntei, 198

Shunsen, 399

SHUNSHO (Katsukawa), 134, 174, 186, 193, 199, 201, 208, 426

Shunsho II, 356

Shunsui, 177

Shuntoku, 198

SHUNYEI, 193, 300, 426

Shunyen, 198

Shunzan, 245

Shuseido, 105

Soan, 173

Sobai, 198

Sogaku, 299

Sogiku, 173

Soraku, 279, 299

Sori, _see_ Hokusai

Sugakudo, 353

Suiyo, 173


Tadeharu, 95

Taigaku, 375

Taito, _see_ Hokusai and Yanagawa Shigenobu

Takahashi, _see_ Rosen

Takemaro, 298

Tanchosai, _see_ Okumura Masanobu

Tange, 75

Terunobu, 92

Terushige, 92

Theatre, 133, _also see_ Actors

Toban, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Tojin, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Tokugawa Dynasty, 49

Tominobu, 353

Tomofusa, 75

Torii School, 84

Tosa School, 53

Toshimaro, 299

Toshinobu, 104

Toshiyuki, 75

Toshū, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

TOYOHARU, 199, 200

Toun, 75

TOYOHIRO I, 320, 338, 427

Toyohiro II, 353

Toyohisa, 201

Toyokiyo, 353

TOYOKUNI I, 328, 339, 427

Toyokuni II, _see_ Gosotei

Toyokuni III, _see_ Kunisada I

Toyokuni IV, _see_ Kunisada II

Toyokuni V, _see_ Kunisada III

Toyokuma, 124

Toyomaro, 298

Toyomaru, 201

Toyomasu, 124

Toyonaga, 124

TOYONOBU (Ishikawa), 108, 200

Toyonobu (Utagawa), 200

Toyoshige, _see_ Gosotei

Triptych, 230

Tsukimaro (Kitagawa), _see_ Kikumaro I

Tsukimaro (Tanimoto), 298

Tsukioka Tange, 75

Ujimasa, 173

Ukioye School, 54, 65, 70

UTAMARO, 257, 260, 279, 426

Utamaro II, 298

Utagawa School, 200

Wagen, 92

Wowo, 75

Yamamoto School, 108

Yasumichi, 375

Yasunobu, 107

Yasutomo, _see_ Kwaigetsudō

Yeicho, 279

Yeiju, 279

Yeiki, 279

Yeiri (Rekisenti), 279

Yeiri (Yeishi's Pupil), 279

Yeiru, 279

Yeisen, 398

YEISHI, 262, 404, 427

Yeishin, 279

YEISHO, 274, 427

Yeisui, 278

Yeizan, 354

Yencho, 299

Yenkyō, 317

Yenshi, 199

Yoshichika, 353

Yoshifuji, 353

Yoshifusa, 353

Yoshikata, 299

Yoshiharu, 353

Yoshikage, 353

Yoshiku, 356

Yoshiki, 299

Yoshikazu, 353

Yoshikuni, 353

Yoshimaro I, 298

Yoshimaro II, 298

Yoshimori, 299

Yoshimune, 299

Yoshisato, 353

Yoshinobu (Fujikawa), 92

Yoshinobu (Komai), 172, 108

Yoshinobu (Tamura), 92

Yoshinobu (Yamomoto), 108, 172

Yoshitaki, 353

Yoshitomi, 353

Yoshitora, 299

Yoshitoshi, 299

Yoshitsuna, 353

Yoshitsuru, 353

Yoshitsuya, 299

Yoshiyuki, 400

Yoshiume, 353

Yoshiwara, 210, 259, 282, 290

Yumiaki, 299

Yukimaro I, 298

Yukimaro II, 298

Yumisho, 198

       *       *       *       *       *


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