THE LANGHAM SERIES
AN ILLUSTRATED COLLECTION
OF ART MONOGRAPHS
EDITED BV SELWYN BRINTON, M.A.
THE LANGHAM SERIES OF
EDITED BY SELWYN BRINTON, M.A.
VOL. I. BARTOLOZZI AND HIS PUPILS IN
ENGLAND. By S. BRINTON, M.A. With
Col. Frontispiece and sixteen full-page
illustrations. Second Edition (xvi -f 96)
VOL. II. COLOUR- PRINTS OF JAPAN. By
E. F. STRANGE, MJ.S. With two
Coloured and numerous full-page
Illustrations. Second Edition (yii + 85)
VOL. III. THE ILLUSTRATORS OF MONT-
MARTRE. By F. L. EMANUEL. With
two Coloured and numerous full-page
Illustrations (viii + 85)
VOL. IV. AUGUSTE RODIN. By RUDOLF
DIRCKS. With two Photogravures and
eleven full-page Illustrations (viii + 72)
VOL. V. VENICE AS AN ART CITY.
By A. ZACHER. With two Photo-
gravures and numerous full-page Illus-
trations (viii + 88)
VOL. VI. LONDON AS AN ART CITY. By
Mrs. STEUART ERSKINE. With one
Etching and sixteen full-page Illustra-
tions (viii + 95)
VOL. VII. NUREMBERG. By H. UHDE-
BERNAYS. With two Coloured and
numerous full-page Illustrations
(viii + 85)
THE following essay is, so far as its facts
go, necessarily a compilation from the
works of other writers, European and
Japanese. Of the former the chief are the charm-
ing treatise by M. E. de Goncourt, and the
exhaustive monograph by M. Revon the latter,
by far the most complete and exhaustive examina-
tion of the subject which has yet appeared, either
in Europe or Japan. Other authors to whom
the present writer is greatly indebted are, the
late Professor Anderson and M. Gonse, Professor
C. J. Holmes, MM. Bing and Hayashi, Mr.
F. V. Dickins ; while the translations of Messrs.
Kowaki, Minakata and R. Kohitsu have been of
inestimable value. There still exists much mis-
apprehension as to the place in art of Hokusai ;
and to assist in a right understanding of this, and
at the same time to interest the ever increasing
public which cares for works of beauty and for the
men who made them, has been the only aim of this
EDWARD F. STRANGE
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM,
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST j
' ' '
THE "MANGWA " l .
THE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI ... 23
OTHER PRINTS AND BOOKS ... 3 \
" SURIMONO " -g
THE PAINTINGS OF HOKUSAI . . jr
THE ARTIST AND THE MAN .... $2
TRANSLATIONS OF TITLES ... 63
HOTEL From an original drawing in the Victoria and
Albert Museum Frontispiece
THE SARU-BASHI (MONKEY-BRIDGE) BETWEEN Hi AND
ETSU f ac ' n g p' 8
A STREET JUGGLER AND A PORTER. From the " Mangwa,"
vol. x. . . . . . . . 1 6
THE FIRST " KAKEMONO " (HANGING PICTURE) OF FUJI.
From the " loo Views of Fuji," -vol. /'/., A.D. 1834 . 24
FUJI AT EVENING FROM BEYOND THE RYOKOKU BRIDGE.
From the" $6 Views of Fuji" . . . 28
ONE OF THE 108 CHINESE HEROES. From the " Suikoden"
A.D. 1829 ,,36
*' SURIMONO." LAUNDRESS TEASED BY A MONKEY (prob-
ably A.D. I80O) ,,40
WOMEN MAKING BANDANA WORK. From a set of the
<l Views of the Tokaido Road " in " surimono " style . ,, 42
A WARRIOR. From an original drawing in the Victoria
and Albert Museum ...... f>#ge 47
ONE OF THE " NOTED JAPANESE AND CHINESE HEROES."
Done by Hokusai in his j6th year (A.D. 1835) . .facing p. 50
DESIGN FOR A LANTERN-HOLDER. Done by Hokusai in his
jjth year (A.D. 1836) page 57
A POET PRESENTING HIS WORKS. From the *' 50 Verses of
Comic Poetry^ each with a portrait of the author " A.D. 1819 61
SIGNATURES 13, 33, 35, 36, 41
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST
THE private life of a great artist may or
may not be of account in the estimation
of his public work. In the case of
Hokusai, not the least tribute to his greatness is
that no single fact that has yet been disinterred,
relating to the story and the manner ofjiisjiving,
can be disassociated from the practice (rfjiis art.
For that, alone, he employed every moment of his
many days ; and for that alone, when the end came,
did he desire that years might have been added
Hokusai was born in the Honjo quarter of Yedo,
in the ninth month of the tenth year of the period
Horeki (/'.*., October-November 1760) ; as stated
by himself on a drawing of the deity Daikoku, in
the possession of the bookseller, Kobayashi. He
was the son of an artisan a maker of mirrors
Nakajima Issai. His family name was Nakamura
Hachiyemon; the first of which appellations having,
very probably, been derived from those of his real
father and of another artisan who is said to have
adopted him Kawamura Ichiroyemon. Hokusai
always claimed to have descended on his mother's
side from one of the retainers of Kira, who was
killed in the defence of his lord by the Forty-Seven
Ronin, an episode which supplied the subject for
one of his best-known series of colour-prints.
Another of his many names, Katsushika, was derived
from the quarter of the city in which he lived.
He was an eldest son, as shown by his name,
Tokitaro (first-born son) ; and is related to have
shown great intelligence even as a boy. At the
age of thirteen or fourteen years, he began his
apprenticeship to an engraver ; an occupation which,
though it only lasted until about the year 1778, can
hardly fail to have played its part in the technical
development of the artist. He is related to have
worked also in the service of the keeper of a lending
library ; and thus to have been inspired to the career
of an illustrator of books. Whether this latter story
be true or not, there are substantial and authentic
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 3
evidences of the other ; for some of his woodcuts
have been identified. During this time he took the
At the age of eighteen, he undertook the first
definite step towards the adoption of an artist's
career, by entering the studio or perhaps it were
better to say, the workshop of Katsukawa Shunsho,
one of the most able of the painters of the Popular
School, who devoted himself mainly to the produc-
tion of colour-prints. In a very little time he
perfected himself so thoroughly in the style of this
artist as to receive from him the customary token
of recognition of the progress of a pupil permission
to adopt a name based on that of his master ; and
his work was accordingly signed, for a brief period,
Katsugawa Shunro. During this time he also illus-
trated several books of a humorous nature.
His character, however, was too independent to
be trammelled for long with the mannerisms of any
single style. He soon exhausted the narrow coji-
ventions of the Ukiyoye^ and turned his attention,
by an easy and natural transition, to those of that
school of Japanese painting which was most nearly
allied therewith the Kano. In the eyes of
Shunsho, this defection must have seemed to be
4 . HOKUSAI
something almost amounting to treachery. Hokusai
was summarily expelled, and forbidden to use the
name Katsugawa. Almost immediately after this
event, another incident happened. Hokusai had
made a sign a poster, one would say for a picture-
dealer, in his newly adopted style. It was seen by
Shunko, the favourite and most successful pupil of
Shunsho, who, reproaching the shopkeeper for daring
to exhibit to the world so bad a piece of work, tore
it to pieces before the very eyes of Hokusai. The
latter recognised the justness of the criticism. He
made no protest ; but, when very old, said one day
to a friend : " If Shunko had not insulted me, I
should never have become a great draughtsman."
He now (A.D. 1785) devoted himself mainly to
book illustration ; using, successively, the names
Sono Shunro and Goummatei. In 1787 he was
attracted by the style of Sori 3 an almost ^contem-
porary painter, with some affinities both to the Tosa
School and to that of Korin, the great designer ;
and, for a while, again changed his artist name to
that of Hishigawa Sor[ (A.D. 1787). But these
wanderings so seriously imperilled his livelihood,
that for a while he had to abandon his profession
and earn a bare subsistence by hawking such small
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 5
goods as calendars and red pepper about the streets.
One day, when thus employed, he sawL_his old
master, Shunsho, approaching ; but, for shame to
be seen in such a condition, avoided him in the
crowd. In this poverty he lived until the spring
of the next year, when he received an unexpected
commission to paint an image of Shoki, the Demon-
queller, on a banner for the great Festival of Boys,
which always takes place on the fifth day of the fifth
month. For this he received two ryo of gold a
sum that raised him at once to comparative affluence.
His spirits revived ; and he made a vow henceforth
to dYat^Jiisjwhoje_Jife_Jo_art. From this time
(A*D. 1789) begins that extraordinary and unfailing
industry which characterised him to the day of his
In this year also he formed one of his most
notable connections that with the great novelist
Bakin, several of whose works he illustrated ; and
within a few years had established his reputation as
a painter so well that he was selected, with others,
by the artist Kano Yusen to assist in the restoration
of the temple at Nikko. On the way he had to
submit to another hard lesson. To please the
keeper of an inn at which the party rested, Yusen
made a sketch of a boy knocking down fruit from a
tree with a bamboo pole. Hokusai, examining it,
must needs say to one of his companions that the
master ought to have had a better idea of drawing ;
for, although the pole reached far above the fruit,
he had drawn the boy standing on tip-toe. Yusen
heard the criticism. He, in great anger, soundly
rated Hokusai for not having seen that the intention
was to represent a clumsy boy, and_fortjiwith_d|s-_
missed him. Hokusai returned to Yedo and carried
his studies a stage further by working at the styles
of Torin and Hiroyuki, of the Tosa school ; then
that of Shiba Kokan, to whom he was indebted
for some outline of European methods learned by
Kokan at Nagasaki ; and, finally, of the great
Chinese painters of the MingJDjnSty. Onbases
so broad did he build the inimitable manner of his
For to 'none of these styles did he adhere, even
for a short time. In 1799 he adopted a new
manner, and signalised the fact by taking a name,
in which that by which he is best known now
first appears. The appellation Hokusai Shinsei is
derived from words meaning " Star of the northern
constellation" (the Great Bear), and it was chosen
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 7
in reference to the deity Myoken, for whom the
artist had a special veneration. A little while after,
however, a narrow escape from being struck by
lightning caused the name Shinsei to be given to a
disciple, in order to make way for those of Raito
and Raishin, both allied with the word rai y " light-
At this time Hokusai's reputation began to spread,
and he had a particular success among the Dutch
merchants, who were then allowed to trade at
Nagasaki, and, at intervals, to visit Yedo. In this
connection occurred a famous episode, which is
worth repeating for the sake of the light it throws
upon the artist's personal character. A Dutch
captain commissioned him to paint two makimono
(rolls), representing typical scenes in the lives of a
Japanese man and woman respectively, at a price
agreed upon, and the ship's doctor ordered two
similar works. After a few days the rolls were
delivered to the captain, who paid without demur ;
but the doctor, on receiving his, endeavoured to
beat the artist down, pleading poverty. Hokusai
was then, as usual, in severe straits for money, but
he was too proud to endure such treatment, and
refused to part with his work for less than the
stipulated reward. When he returned home his
wife reproached him with not having sold the
drawings for what they would fetch, seeing that in
Japan they would be of little value and no one
would buy them. But he replied that, in dealing
with a foreigner, it was especially necessary to keep
to the terms of his bargain, lest it should be thought
that a Japanese said one thing and meant another.
When the captain heard of the incident he at once
purchased the second pair of rolls himself ; and, the
report spreading, it is said that the Dutch bought
Hokusai's drawings by hundreds and sent them
home to Holland, until the Shogun's Government,
fearing that the secrets of the defences of the
country might by this means be revealed, forbade
the traffic. None of these drawings have yet been
authentically identified. If any could be traced,
they would be of almost inestimable value.
In 1804 Hokusai made the first of those gigantic
tours de force of which the report had been handed
down to us, on the occasion of a temple festival on
the fourteenth day of the fourth month : a huge
figure of Dharma, painted with enormous brushes
from veritable casks of Indian ink on such a scale
that the design could only be realised by those who
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 9
mounted, with ladders, to the temple roof. This
and similar exercises impressed the imagination of
the multitude, and gained for the artist such general
fame that he was even ordered to display his powers
before the Shogun lyenari in a sort of competition
with Buncho. After drawing a number of ordinary
themes flowers, birds, landscapes, and the like
Hokusai again prepared a great roll of paper, and
with a brush or, one might say, broom, traced
thereon the curves of a mighty river. Then,
dipping the feet of a cock in orange-red, he allowed
the bird to walk over his design, and so brought to
the mind of all his beholders the famous river Tatsuta,
with maple leaves of autumn floating on its stream.
Buncho acknowledged himself vanquished, and
henceforth the fame of Hokusai was established in
the eyes of the people.
In 1807 began a curious and intermittent connec-
tion with the great novelist Bakin, an intercourse
varied with many quarrels. And in 1810 Hokusai
found himself at variance with another popular idol,
the actor Onoye Baiko. The latter was famous for
his power of representing ghosts ; and asked some-
what peremptorily, one imagines Hokusai to make
a drawing for him of a special kind of phantom.
Hokusai, feeling probably the contempt for the
actor class which inspired even the lower orders of
artisans in Old Japan, and possibly offended by the
form of the request, made no reply to the invitation.
The actor thereupon went to the artist's house in
some state ; and having entered the poor and barely
furnished room in which Hokusai was working,
ostentatiously spread a mat for himself to sit
upon, before beginning the conversation. Hokusai
treated his visitor with contemptuous indifference ;
utterly ignoring his presence. After vain efforts to
induce him to speak, Baiko withdrew, angry and
humiliated : but eventually made the most com-
plete apology and was forgiven.
Some few years afterwards occurred that visit to
Nagoya which produced the Mangwa (see chapter
ii. for an examination into the precise date) ; and
this was followed by journeys to Kishiu (about the
year 1823), Osaka, and the capital of the Mikado,
Kyoto, where his reception seems to have been any-
thing but enthusiastic. He then returned to Yedo,
where he worked steadily without incident, except
for a severe attack of paralysis (about the year 1828
or 1829); which, however, he got the better of.
In 1831-1832, he made yet another excursion to
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 11
Shinano, and stayed for a whole year with one of
his admirers, a rich wine merchant ; and in 1834
or 1835 he betook himself to Uraga, living in con-
cealment, for some reason unknown, under the
name of Myuraya Hachiyemon : during which he
wrote some pathetic letters, preserved, fortunately,
in the Katsushika Hokusal Den. He returned to
Yedo in the autumn of 1836 during a period of
famine ; and, for awhile was able to maintain him-
self only by the most untiring industry, exchanging
his drawings for small portions of rice ; even, for
the same reward, turning casual strokes made by
his customers on silk and brought to him for the
purpose, into finished designs undreamt of by their
originators. And so he survived ; only, in 1839
in the seventyTninth year of his age to experience
yet another misfortune. In this year, his house
was burnt down ; and he lost, not merely his
possessions in the ordinary sense of the word, but
a priceless accumulation of studies, preserved since
the days of his early youth. His very brushes
were destroyed. But such was his indomitable
energy that he hired another dwelling on credit ;
and with bowl and painting-slabs, extemporised
from the fragments of a broken bottle found in the
ruins of his old house, set himself again to work
with a veritable rage of enthusiasm.
In 1848, he changed his dwelling for the last of
many times his habit of moving being a standing
joke with his friends and left the Honjo quarter
for a house near the monastery of Ensho in the
Asakusa quarter of Yedo. He fell ill in the spring
of the following year ; and the case soon became
hopeless. His pupils and friends gathered around
the old man ; and did all in their power to ease his
last moments ; but the desire of life was strong, and
even after all the troubles he had undergone he
could not leave his art without regret. " If only
Heaven could have lent me ten more years," he
sighed ; and then, " if Heaven had lent me but five
years more, I should have become a true painter."
These were his last words.
He died on the i8th day of the ninth month of the
second year of Kayei (May 10, 1849 ). His simple
funeral was yet followed by several daimyo with
their retainers, as well as by a great crowd of pupils
and friends, to the astonishment and envy of his
neighbours. He was buried in the monastery or
Sekiyogi, in the Honjo quarter of Yedo ; and
received the Buddhist name of Shinshi Man of
THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST 13
Sincerity. His tombstone is still there, in the
tnTrd row on the left of the entrance : inscribed
"Tomb of Gwakyo Rojin Manji, of the family or
Sawamura," " Hokusai, of the province of Shimosa,
famous artist, honest man " and his many other
names, and a poem. And there, amid the humble
monuments of artisan and trader, such men as those
with whom his life was lived, lies the body of one
of the greatest artists the world has ever seen.
OF all the works of Hokusai perhaps none
is more widely known, or has been
received with more general appreciation,
than his wonderful encyclopaedia of Japanese life,
Hokusai Mangwa. It consists, in all, of fifteen
volumes of woodcut reproductions of sketches,
drawn with the most amazing freedom, imagination
and directness, and lightly tinted. The title was
chosen by the master himself; and its meaning is,
in this connection, simply, "rapid sketches" or
more fully, " drawing as it comes spontaneously."
The writer of the preface to the fourth volume
classifies pictorial art as consisting either of gwa
(sketches), %u (pictures) 'and utsushi (exact copies) ;
and quotes this saying of Hokusai, " There is a
saying of the ancients to the following effect :
* who cannot stand cannot walk, who cannot walk
cannot run.' Now, to stand is shin (to copy faith-
fully), to walk is gyo (to picture), to run is so (dash
off a rapid sketch)."
The Mangwa owed its inception to a visit paid
by Hokusai to Nagoya, where he stayed in the
house of Honshu Keijin, the writer of the preface to
the first volume ; and there made the acquaintance
of Gekkwotei Bokusen, " to the great delight of
both." Over three hundred sketches were made as
illustrations of his theory of art "nothing in
Nature was unattempted " and on a foundation so
broad was his great achievement reared. Each
volume has its own preface, written by some
admirer and personal friend, one would conclude, or
the artist ; and from these we are able to gather in-
valuable hints as to the impression made on the
minds of his contemporaries. Several of the writers
were authors : Rokujuyen, a humorous poet who,
however, has given us nothing farcical ; Shoku-
sarjin, also a poet "a teetotaller loving cakes, and
hating liquor " ; Shikitei Samba, a novelist ;
Ryutei Tanehiko, the author of a series of short
stories of the " Hundred and Eight Chinese
Heroes," illustrated by Hokusai's pupil, Hokkei, and
of other works ; and Sankin Gwaishi Ogasa, per-
haps another name of the novelist, Bakin who
wrote his preface " by lamplight, at a window look-
ing out on a rainy night." Then we have also,
Hozan Gyo-6 Shiki, " the sage old angler " ; " the
old man " Shurodai " ; the old gentleman " Hya-
kushu." Most of them refer pleasantly to their
age ; and we may form a suggestive picture of a
coterie of simple-minded, wise, enthusiastic old men,
dominated by the impulsive, masterful, difficult
artist, himself at the beginning of the period being
well over fifty years : a good age for Japan.
The actual date on which the Mangwa was
begun is a matter of some doubt. The preface to
the first volume is dated precisely, tenth month of
the ninth year of Bunkwa (December 1812) ; which
would appear conclusive enough, and has been
accepted as final by such authorities as M. E.
de Goncourt and Mr. F. V. Dickins. But the
principal Japanese life of Hokusai, on the other
hand, states with equal assurance that the work was
begun in the course of a visit which Hokusai paid
to his friend and pupil Bokusen, in 1817, at
Nagoya ; and though Mr. Dickins dismisses this as
an error, M. Revon not only accepts it as authentic,
but has found what he considers to be ample corrob-
oration of the later year, in the autumn of which
he believes the book to have made its first appear-
ance. A third date, 1810, given by some European
writers, rests on no evidence at all ; and a fourth,
Bunkwa n (A.D. 1814-15), on that of a statement
of the editor of the fifteenth volume, published in
1878 ; and is certainly inaccurate. In favour of the
ascription of the work to the year 1812, some
importance may be attached to two facts, not
hitherto brought into the argument by any writer
on the subject. First, that the date of the tenth
volume, tenth month or Bunsei 10 (A.D. 1819),
has never been questioned ; and bears on its face
every impress of truth, in the characteristic appro-
priation of a series of tens for a notable and
auspicious achievement. Now, in the preface to
volume v., a passage occurs which has thus
been translated by Mr. Dickins (Japan Society's
Transactions^ vol. vi. part iii.) : " These * random
sketches ' . . . have for some time past, owing to
the favour with which the earlier ones were received,
been engraved and published year after year, and
the present one is the fifth of the series. . . ." The
expression which I have italicised would hardly
have been used if the " series " had begun only in
1817 ; especially when time enough for the appear-
ance of yet another five volumes had to be allowed
before 1819. M. de Goncourt considered that
volume ii. was issued in 1814 ; the third in 1815 ;
five volumes in 1816 ; and the ninth and tenth in
1819 ; an estimate which is perhaps nearly enough
reliable as far as the earlier volumes are concerned.
But there is no evidence in the prefaces of so
remarkable a fact as the production of five volumes
in any one year ; while, on the other hand, those
of numbers six, eight, and nine, each suggest
strongly the idea of a series appearing at nearly
The second point against the date 1817 is its
association with Bokusen. This artist, in 1815,
published a work entitled, Bokusen Sogwa (Sketches
from Life by Bokusen), in which he further describes
himself as pupil of Hokusai. This work is a fairly
close imitation of the early volumes of the Mangwa^
both 'in style, execution, and selection of subject.
Of course it is inconceivable that the latter should
not have been the first to appear, ; while the date of
the former is undeniable. Moreover, it is distinctly
stated in the preface to volume i. of the Mangwa,
THE "MANGWA" 19
that it was in the autumn of its appearance that
Hokusai first made Bokusen's acquaintance ; so
that the conclusion must be, that the date of the
beginning of the work being necessarily earlier than
1815, we have no reason for rejecting the authen-
ticity of that given above, December 1812.
The contents of the Mangwa are thus described
in the advertisement of the tenth volume :
I. Here the author gives rein to his sense or
humour in a variety of miscellaneous information.
The work will be completed in due course.
II. Things omitted from volume i. ; men and
women, plants, trees, landscapes, birds and beasts,
fish, insects, and creeping things.
III. Continuation of II., miscellaneous contents,
all sorts of things.
IV. Examples of rapid and extempore work
V. Torii, halls, pagodas, temples, court nobles,
galleries, official buildings, priests' dwellings.
VI. Various modes of fencing, archery, gunnery,
and everything pertaining to the honourable pro-
fession of arms.
VII. Landscapes under wind, rain, snow, rime
in different provinces.
VIII. Supplementary to earlier volumes, also
cultivation of silkworms, the different kinds or
IX. Chinese and Japanese heroes, and women
famous for heroism or virtue.
X. Shrines, monasteries, Buddhism, necro-
mancers, professors of occult arts, types of ordi-
nary men and women.
These ten volumes constitute the chief portion
of the work, and that most intimately associated with
Hokusai personally. At some date after 1819, the
blocks of those which had already appeared were
bought by Yerakuya Toshiro of Nagoya, who
published two more volumes in 1834, and an
additional two in 1849, of which the latter was
issued after the death of the artist. A fifteenth
volume appeared after a considerable lapse of time ;
compiled from miscellaneous sketches left by Ho-
kusai ; but as there was not in existence enough
material to fill it, and none of the pupils of Hokusai
had survived, contributions were obtained from
other artists of Nagoya : the most notable being
Kyosai, whose signature is attached to two plates.
The contents of these later volumes hardly need
particular description. They are of the same varied
THE "MANGWA" 21
nature as those which went before ; and, mainly,
are executed with the same skill.
As a general rule, the fidelity with which Japanese
wood-engravers have been able to reproduce draw-
ings in facsimile is little less than extraordinary ;
but the average copies met with of the Mangwa
are disappointing in this respect. The blocks seem
to have worn very rapidly ; and even in the best
impressions, the result does not strike one as being
entirely satisfactory. This is due to the printing,
which must have been entrusted to hands far less
able than those which made the delicate surimono
and superb broadsheets. The tints of red and
blue required careful gradation and most judicious
handling, but seem only to have received much
the same mechanical treatment that would have
resulted from the use of a press. Probably the
work was done very cheaply. The master's draw-
ing is reproduced accurately enough. We can
realise the fertility of his conceptions and his
amazing dexterity of handling, his keen observa-
tion, his great good-humour, and the poignant
wit of his art. And into these lines we can, at
least, try to read the subtlety of light and shade that
he desired to accompany them, and regret that his
original drawings were, by the exigencies of the
process employed for perpetuating and disseminating
them, of necessity destroyed.
Even at that, the work remains his masterpiece.
And when we count up other series of designs
accomplished by the great masters of the world's
art the woodcuts of Dtirer, the etchings of
Rembrandt and Whistler, the portraits of Holbein,
the Liber Studiorum of Turner we may not deny
a place therewith to the Mangwa of Hokusai.
THE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI
IF any average student were asked what subject
of all others was most characteristic of Japa-
nese art his answer would almost infallibly,
and very rightly, be JVIount Fuji. This splendid
peak, dominating the whole empire, has for cen-
turies been accepted as an ^mbodiment of the
guardian spirit of Japan. The old legend is that it
was cast up by the same convulsion of Nature that
caused the formation of Lake Biwa, itself one of
the greatest beauties of Japanese landscape. And
around them both has grown a wealth of story, an
infinite poesy, that has never failed to incite the
emulation of the painter, the draughtsman, the
decorator. On the most minute sword ornaments,
its superb curves are exquisitely chiselled in iron
and inlaid with gold or silver ; on great kakemono
the sweeping brush of the masters of painting have
traced them in all their fine simplicity. It was
inevitable that iiokusai, looking out upon his world
with keen enjoyment of all that it offered to his
artistic sense, should seize upon a subject so noble
and so intensely patriotic. It was almost inevitable,
moreover, that he, out-broken from all the trammels
of his conventional predecessors, should be the first
to realise its possibilities ; to mark the innumerable
variations that it presented to him who would see
them ; and, for the first time, depict them not as
images remote and separate, but in the most inti-
mate relationship with the daily incidents of that
ever-flowing current of human affairs which it was
the highest aim of his school to record. It is this
quality which especially enforces the appeal of all
Hokusai's work to Europeans incapable of under-
standing, and generally undesirous of appreciating,
the subtle philosophy and symbolism underlying
the compositions of the masters of the classical
schools of Japan and China. And no better
example can be found of the working out of this,
his tendency, than in the seven-score odd drawings
he had engraved and published of the Peerless
THE FIRST KAKEMONO OF FUJI
THE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI 25
The first with which we have to deal were pro-
duced between the years 1823 and 1829 under the
title so well known to Western amateurs " The
Thirty-six Viewsj)fJVlount Fuji," Fugaku Sanjiu-
rokkei, the artist being then well over sixty years of
age. They are broadsheet, of about the usual size
(14 inches in height by 10 in width), and are
printed in several colours, a fine blue, apple-green,
and dull rich red being predominant. The scheme
of colour was absolutely Hokusai's own, and it is
somewhat singular to remark that, although he used
it so freely (in other series as well as this), and
although his popularity was so great and so endur-
ing, it was never copied by other colour-print
designers who attempted landscape ; although a
modification was used by one or two of his pupils.
In spite of the title, the series really consists of
forty-six plates, a list of them being given, in the
Appendix, in the order chosen by the late E. de
The second series appeared in book form, filling
three volumes. Its Japanese title is simply Fugaku
Hyakkei, "The HundredJSews_of^Fuji," and it
was published, with a preface by Ryutei Tanehiko
(who performed the same office for the eleventh
volume of the Mangwa in 1834), in the hand-
writing of Tosai, dated the fourth month of the
fourth year of Tempo (May- June 1834). The
cuts are in monochrome, black with a grey tint
one edition has black only and there are
1 02 of them, including the frontispiece a repre-
sentation of a female deity, Mokuge-Miraku-ya-hlme-
ho-mikoto the sublime goddess of flowers and trees.
The two first volumes appeared in 1834-1835,
signed by the artist Gwakyo Rojin Manji ; they
were engraved by Yegawa Tomekichi and his
pupils, and published by Nishimura of Yedo. The
third is undated. It was engraved by Yegawa Sentaro,
and published at Nagoya by Yerakua Toshino. At
Nagoya, also, was published the whole of the edition
in black only, as well as a later one in tint. In
addition to these, reference must be made to the
admirable reprint arranged by Mr. F. V. Dickins
(London : B. T. Batsford, 1880, 4 vols.), with full
translations of the preface and descriptive titles.
The series is not a haphazard collection or
sketches. It begins on a high note of religious
mystery ; the first plate being a representation of
the Shinto goddess of flowers and trees a deity
closely allied to Amaterasu, the goddess of light.
THE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI 27
She holds a mirror and a branch of the sakaki tree,
and gazes downwards from the heavens in an attitude
of beneficent meditation. Next we have the moun-
tain itself, in all its splendid majesty ; the summit,
snow-clad, rising with a mighty sweep beyond the
bounds of the picture a point of some significance.
In the foreground is a group of villagers and officials
wondering at the sight for herein Hokusai repre-
sents the legendary birth of Fuji in the year B.C. 285.
Then, again, comes a touch of mysticism the
Buddhist saint, Yen no Shokaku, exorcising demons
upon the very top of the mountain ; and so,
reverently, the master brings us to one of his most
superb compositions, " Fuji on a Bright Day." The
peak of the mountain rises, lone and afar, beyond a
great expanse of hills, and lowlands, and lake upon
which just a few tiny boats are placed, to bring into
scale with mere humanity, the majesty of the subject.
The sky is flecked with a ripple of shining clouds,
more than rivalled in brightness by the snow that
yet clothes the heights. The keynote of the
theme is solitude ; and in no other view of the whole
series do we get so grand a concentration of force
on the expression of a single thought.
But when Hokusai has once rendered due honour
to the sublimity of his subject he gives full play to
the restless vigour of his observation. We have
seen the great mountain and its guardian spirits :
now it is time to bring humanity upon the scene.
With a perfection of fitness, the master chooses for
the purpose the day of the commencement of the
pilgrimage season ; and shows us a wooded ravine
filled with pilgrims, toiling painfully upward. For
the most part, only their great hats, marked with
the proper cypher, can be seen a characteristically
humorous point of view to have been chosen but,
here and there, is a face, and a hand grasping the
necessary staff. Again, we have the pilgrims, their
task accomplished, striding down the cinderous
slopes then, a wonderful and almost grotesque ren-
dering of the panic and devastation caused by the
great earthquake and eruption of 1707 ; and so we
pass into some of the innumerable intimacies of
the Peerless Mountain, with the kindly folk who
live around and adore it.
One cannot spare space for detailed consideration
of these : moreover, the work has already been
so well done by Mr. Dickins that a reiteration
is needless. But one or two of the drawings claim
a special word of comment. For instance, the
THE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI 29
composition of No. XX. in vol. i., "Fuji mirrored
in the Rice Marshes," with the flock of geese on
the margin of the water, is daring and extraordinarily
successful. In No. XXV. of the same volume, the
sun is setting in glory, just behind the apex of the
mountain ; and so revealing itself as a gigantic
mirror and stand, but still more, to us, reminiscent
of the national flag of Japan. In Plate III. of the
second volume, Fuji, just lit by the rays of the
rising sun, is seen, most beautifully, to glisten
between the stems of a group of bamboos, waving
in the morning breeze. Plate V. again has a note
of mystery ; the snow-clad peak rising above the
clouds that enshroud the dragon coiled about it. In
Plate IX. it rises beyond the crest of one of those
great waves that Hokusai loved to draw, and drew
so magnificently ; and in XVI. is one of the rare
portraits of the artist himself, with a picnic party
on the edge of the rice-fields, painting his beloved
mountain. Bridges and streets, storm and calm,
crowds and solitude over all Fuji rises supreme and
wonder-compelling. The old priest (in XXIX.
vol. ii.) leaves his writing to throw up his arms in
admiration as he catches sight of the mountain in
the round window beyond his desk. The lines or
3 o HOKUSAI
Fuji mingle and contrast with the web of a spider,
the mesh of a fishing-net, the look-out of a fireman
rising above the village roofs. Artisans at their
work, ambassadors journeying in ceremonial state,
astronomers on their observatory roofs, all stay to
admire its graceful outlines ; until " with a last
flourish of the brush, the master gives us, once
more, the great cone, in simple loneliness, clouds
and shadows gathering about its base."
The whole can only be described as a splendid
epic instinct with poetry and beauty and romance
and yet filled to the full with the keenest and
most kindly humanity. It is rare to find such
qualities allied with the complete powers of artistic
expression : and if Hokusai had done no work other
than these two series of views of Mount Fuji, his
reputation would stand high among the artists ot
* Hokusai is known also to have made a set of eight
views of Mount Fuji (Revon, cxxxviii.), which appears,
unfortunately, to have been lost ; and he also con-
tributed one illustration in colours to a collection of
poems, Fujimi-no-tsura " The Admirers of Fuji," signed
Gwakydjin Hokusai (Hayashi, 1711).
OTHER PRINTS AND BOOKS
HOKUSAI produced many colour-prints
other than the great series of " Views of
Mount Fuji" already described. Among
these were several sets of admirable landscape, in
which, nevertheless, we almost always find a con-
siderable human interest. His figures of men and
women are more than mere counters in the scheme
of composition ; even where the landscape, as such,
is the dominant feature ; and in his treatment of
them one marks the same kindly humour that is
characteristic of his other work.
No complete list of these broadsheets has yet been
compiled ; and indeed the task of making a complete
catalogue of Hokusai's work would be an under-
taking of great magnitude, in spite of the valuable
contributions towards it, already accumulated by
the labours of MM. E. de Goncourt, Revon, and
Hayashi. In the present work an attempt to deal
with even the chief of them would be out of place ;
but some brief indication may be given of the nature
of a few of the best known and most characteristic.
Somewhat similar in general style to the coloured
"Views of Mount Fuji" are a series of eleven
" Picturesque Views of Famous Bridges in the
Provinces." These are signed Zen Hokusai Tame-
JkazUy and were published by the famous printseller,
Yeijudo, of whom Toyokuni made an interesting
portrait. The quaint lines of the old bridges of
Japan, now fast disappearing under stress of the
requirements of modern civilisation, appealed
strongly to the artist. He took a keen delight in
the contrasts afforded by these works of men's
hands, with the mountains and rivers, highlands and
lowlands, woods and plains in which nature
expresses herself : and the combination is seen and
rendered with daring and originality. One of the
most typical of them is now reproduced ; and it
affords a pleasant indication of Hokusai's methods.
Not without deliberation has he introduced, on the
rock at the right of the picture, a couple of goats ;
one of which leaves for a moment the all-important
OTHER PRINTS AND BOOKS 33
operation of grazing, in order to watch the success
with which the two heavily laden coolies are emula-
ting his own surefooted ness in their perilous passage.
All the details of the composition
the precipitous rocks and tree-
tops just appearing above the mist,
the flight of birds of one kind above,
and of wild geese below the bridge,
suggest the great height and danger
of the hanging bridge. It is in this
sense that all Hokusai's pictures
must be studied to realise their
allusiveness and imagery and the
completeness and sincerity with which the artist
enunciates his ideas. He inscribed this print,
" Drawn from Nature."
A companion set is that of eight " Waterfalls ot
the Provinces," issued by the same publisher ; and
to it, also, the above remarks fully apply. Both
have the general colour-scheme of the Fuji series
apple-green, blue, reds and yellow being the pre-
vailing tints. With them may also be grouped a
publication by Moriyama, "Eight Views of me
Riu-kiu (Loo-choo) Islands," in which the green
and yellow are less predominant. Fine impressions
of these prints are rare. B They have been frequently
reprinted in crude colours, which dolittle justice to
Another group consists of illustrations, mainly of
the life of cities and suburbs. The earliest and
most important of them is the well-known ^fzuma
Asobi (Walks round the Eastern Capital) ; a series
of views of Yedo, engraved by Ando Yenchi, with
text by Senso-an, and published by Tsutaya Juza-
buro ; a.picture of whose shop, with stacks of prints,
three assistants, and Tsutaya himself waiting on a
customer, is not the least of the many interesting
subjects therein contained. This publication con-
tains, also, the famous view of the Dutchmen's
quarters at Nagasaki, with Japanese passers-by in
the street making fun of the curious foreigners
behind the bars ; a curious piece of evidence, were
such wanted, of HokusaPs acquaintance with that
town. In all respects, the spirit and evident accuracy
of the drawings give to the book the importance of
an historical document of the first class. Old
Yedo (the modern Tokyo) is now almost a thing of
the past ; and when the day comes for its history to
be written, these sketches will be found to possess a
high value apart from their worth as works of art.
OTHER PRINTS AND BOOKS 35
The first edition of the <J[zuma Asobi, which is rare,
appeared in 1797, and was printed in black only.
In 1802 it was reprinted in colours ; and was
followed by the Toto meisho ichiran
(Views on the Celebrated Quarters
of Yedo), by the same engraver ;
and, in 1806, by the Tehon Sumi-
dagawa rlogan ichiran (Views on
both Banks of the Sumida River),
with text by Senkwado Tsuruya,
and published by Kojiro Narayasu.
An interesting, and often amus-
ing, set of views of the Tokaido
the old high road from Yedo
to Kyoto was published at the
former city by Nishimura in 1798-
1799. The fifty-six plates of the
recognised halting-places are small in size, only
about six and a half inches square ; but the land-
scape is of little importance : merely what one might
call the symbol of each famous view being intro-
duced in connection with humorous incidents
of the journey. Hokusai made also another and
larger set of views of this favourite subject, im-
mortalised by the genius of the two Hiroshige, in
the succeeding generation. He also, in spite of the
assertions of some writers to the contrary, made at
least two series of illustrations of that splendid epic
of Old Japan, the " Story of the Forty-
J* seven Ronin," with which, as we
have seen, he claimed some ancestral
connection. One belongs to his
earlier period, and is signed Kako,
and is of little importance. A later
version is better known and was
printed by Idzumi Ichi.
Hokusai designed few nishikiye
the ordinary broadsheets as com-
pared with many of the other artists
of his school ; and those few on quite
original lines. Perhaps the finest of them is a large-
sized print representing a great fish working its way
up a waterfall the Japanese symbol of perseverance.
This is a magnificent composition, and superb in
colour. It is interesting to note that it was some-
what closely imitated both by the first Toyokuni
and also by Keisai Yeisen ; though neither suc-
ceeded in equalling the achievement of the master.
Another notable print represents a carp in a whirl-
pool, the scheme being carried out in deep blues
OTHER PRINTS AND BOOKS 37
and green. This also has extraordinary merits as a
decorative design more so, in fact, than is usual
with the work of the artist. A word of reference
is also due to some singularly beautiful prints of
flowers. Other prints can hardly be enumerated
here. It must suffice to repeat that they are
generally quite free from the conventions of
Hokusai's contemporaries often more akin to
paintings, of which indeed they are rather tran-
scripts, than drawings made for the special process
of colour-printing. These works have nothing in
common with the prints of Utamaro, Toyokuni,
Yeishi and the rest, save in their technique. Here,
as always, the great artist must needs follow a line
of his own, regardless of the demands of the
market or the custom of his fellows.
From the year 1781 to that of his death Hokusai
continued, almost without interruption, to make
illustrations for books of every kind story-books,
novels, poems, and a whole series of collections of
designs and sketches other than the great Mangwa
already dealt with. Most of these illustrations are
reproduced in black-and-white, sometimes, especially
in the case of the sketch-books, with the addition of
one or two tints. They show, as one would expect,
daring and original powers of composition and
draughtsmanship, with perhaps a greater insistence
on mass and light shade than on the pure line and
solid black used by earlier Japanese illustrators,
such as Nishigawa Sukenobu. It is by no means
difficult to obtain representative examples of them,
although some are, of course, extremely rare. One
would note, as especially worthy of study, in addition
to those elsewhere referred to, the u Pictures of
Chinese and Japanese Heroes," and the " Book of
Birds " ; but these give only a small measure of the
infinite variety and capacity of the artist's powers
as an illustrator.
" SURIMONO "
AMONG Hokusai's colour-prints his splen-
did series ofsurimono will always have an
especial charm for those who know and
appreciate them. This class of colour-prints is, it
may be noted, of a quite personal nature. They
were made for particular occasions, such as the New
Year, to announce the birth of a son, a change of
name, or such-like occurrence calling for congratu-
lations ; and were often, though not quite always,
issued by the artist as gifts, or supplied by him to a
friend for that purpose. Thus one does not find on
them the mark of a publisher. They seem to have
been generally produced without any consideration
for the exigencies of commerce ; and, in spite of a
somewhat restricted traditional treatment, they
consequently reflect the designer's taste in a very
marked degree. Moreover, it is in surimono that we
see the technique of colour-printing at its best.
On them was lavished all the skill of the colourist
and of the printer. Niceties of enrichment by
what may be called blind tooling (gauffrage)^ the
use of metallic powders, and every daintiness and
refinement of colour, take the place of the broader
effects of the larger prints. They are miniatures
in every sense of the word, with an added charm of
sentiment, which, however difficult for a European
to realise, must still be allowed for in measuring
their intrinsic value as works of art. Almost
always they are allusive in subject, composed with
symbols of good omen carefully chosen with the
particular occasion in view. Very often the in-
scription is one of those little poems of which the
Japanese are so enamoured, reproduced in that fine
caligraphy on which they set so high a value. The
sum total is a print, of which our Christmas and
New Year's cards offer but the most remote reflec-
tion, and, be it remembered always, made for the
delectation of the artisan class of the community.
Among the many artists who, during the seventy
odd years that the fashion obtained in Japan, gave
their attention to -work of this kind, Hokusai is
easily pre-eminent ; and next to him come his
pupils, Gakutei, Hokkei, Hokuba. According to
LAUNDRESS TEASED BY A MONKEY
SURIMONO " 41
M. Edmond de Goncourt, whose study of this
branch of his art is the most complete that has yet
appeared, his first known mrimono is to be ascribed
to the year 1793, and bears the signature ______
Mugara Shunro. It represents a young
water-carrier seated on the yoke on
which his vessels are carried, by the side
of a small piece of furniture bearing pots
of sugar, and bowls of porcelain and
metal. It has no personal connection SHUNRO
with Hokusai himself, having been made
to announce a concert in honour of a musician who
was changing his name ; and it gives a list of the per-
formers and the following invitation (translated from
the French of M. de Goncourt), the date being July
of the year above mentioned : " In spite of the great
heat, I hope that you are in good health, and I beg to
inform you that my name is changed, thanks to my
success with the public ; and that, to celebrate the in-
auguration of my new name, on the 4th day of next
month I am giving a concert at the house of Kioya of
Ryogoku, with the assistance of all my pupils, from
ten in the morning until four o'clock in the after-
noon; and be the weather wet or fine, I count on the
honour of a visit from you, Tokiwazu Mozitayu."
Surimono have been identified by M. de Goncourt
with most of the succeeding years. These early
examples ranging up to 1804, a time of his greatest
output are, for the most part, small in size, about
that of one of our playing-cards. They are very
delicately executed in rose-pink, green, purple,
yellow and brown ; and most beautifully composed
and drawn. The figures of the women, in particular,
are remarkable for their exquisite grace of line ; and
the strong characterisation which distinguished the
artist's later work only appears tentatively. The
Japanese calendar associates years, months, and
days with certain animals in a regular cycle ; and
chronological allusions to these are of common
occurrence in the designs, and thus form a ready
means of fixing the date. Some of them appeared
in series ; as, for instance, a set of representations of
various industries (1799) ; the childhood of fifteen
heroes (1800) ; the twelve animals of the zodiac
(1801) ; and many other groups ; while some few,
of great beauty and rarity, are of large size un-
usually wide in proportion to their height and
depict landscapes, picnics, and similar scenes. M. de
Goncourt mentions one, in two sheets, which is
100 centimetres in width and the largest known ;
SURIMONO " 43
the subject being a bridge with various passers-by,
and among them, a figure, said to be a portrait of
the artist himself.
Hokusai continued to produce surimono in con-
siderable numbers up to about the year 1835, after
which he appears to have neglected this class of
work. M. de Goncourt remarks that in the year
1 820 we have the curious phenomenon of a distinct
display of influence derived apparently from one of
his best pupils, Gakutei. The surimono of Hokkei,
another disciple, are also closely related to his later
style ; of which a bolder colouring and design and
the abandonment of that delicacy in both those
qualities which marked the prints of the first group,
are the chief characteristics. Many of these later
surimono have been reprinted recently ; and are to
be met with in most collections. The original
blocks seem generally to have been used ; but the
paper, artificially stained brown, and of coarse
texture, is the best guide for the amateur, and this
should generally be avoided unless the evidence of
its authenticity and age is overwhelming. To this
later period belong the series of still-life groups
always symbolic of good- fortune for the special
occasion which the master arranged and drew with
singular skill. One series also (of the year 1823)
has a particular and amusing interest. Toyokuni
had, a little before, produced a deliberate plagiarism
of the famous Mangwa. Hokusai retorted with a
set of five surimono of actors in the manner of this
artist ; and bearing this description : " I-itsu, the
old man of Katsushika, playing the monkey-trick
of imitating other people."
Reference has already been made to the excellence
of the surimono of three of Hokusafs pupils
Hokuba, Gakutei, Hokkei. In different periods
each of them equalled the master in execution ;
though the inspiration in each case was his own.
But the fact is notable, none the less ; for no other
Japanese artist ever succeeded in attaining his level
in any branch of art, even when the factor or
originality is excluded. M. de Goncourt has
published the most complete list of Hokusai's
surimono yet made ; yet there are so many defi-
ciencies therein that a collector who should care to
specialise in this most fascinating branch of art
would find that the investigation of it would afford
him ample occupation. Such a task would be well
worthy of the efforts of any one with time, patience,
and skill enough to attempt it.
THE PAINTINGS OF HOKUSAI
IN considering the work of Hokusai as a painter,
it is first of all necessary to have a clear idea
of the essential characteristics of the art of
the brush as uniformly practised in Japan. For
therein we find radical differences from European
methods. The use of oils, or tempera, whether
on canvas or panel, did not exist in the former
country, save for some rare and sporadic manifesta-
tions of about the beginning of the seventeenth
century, until the present generation began to
imitate their Western contemporaries. The tech-
nique of Japanese, following that of the Chinese
painters, demands for material only a kind of water-
colour sometimes approaching, in effect, to what
we term gouache ; or, in its simplest form, just a
monochrome of Indian ink. The brushes used
were round in section, tapering to a long point,
and held perpendicularly to the silk or paper on
which the drawings were made. In the majority
of cases the former material was employed ; a
choice demanding unerring accuracy of execution,
inasmuch as correction was absolutely out of the
Trained from his boyhood in this technique,
practically that of hand-writing, the Japanese
painter needed, above all things, a perfectly clear
idea of what he was going to do before he took his
brush in hand. His subject had to be reduced, so
to speak, to its simplest elements. There was no
room for elaboration. On the contrary, his ten-
dency was towards the perfection of a set of
formulae which, according to the tenets of the
various schools, should express completely and
simply the idea he wished to convey. The ruling
motive of all Japanese art was concentration. To
the expression of the one central thought, all sub-
ordinate or distracting detail was unhesitatingly
sacrificed. Moreover, the themes of the painters
were largely a matter of tradition. The tyranny
of the masters seemed, until the intervention of
European influences, as if it would be eternal and
unrelenting. When Hokusai dared to paint in a
style of his own, he was expelled from the studio.
Because he persisted in working out his own salva-
tion he has never been received into the hierarchy
of Japanese art, save as a concession to European
fashion for reasons hardly understood and probably
despised, could the truth be told by Japanese critics.
The whole matter, then, becomes one of mere
calligraphy. Line, and the quality of it, is every-
thing in all the Japanese schools, save that of the
Buddhistic tradition, and even in these it has power.
In the style affected by Hokusai a blend of those
of the Chinese and Kano schools colour and mass
play but a subordinate part. There is no light and
shade, as we understand the terms, and but little
modelling. Against these deficiencies is to be set
an amazing dexterity of brush-work, which in
Hokusai's hands degenerated as the Japanese
critics would have it to mere juggling uncon-
trolled. His mastery of the tools of his trade was
such that he rose supreme to them. A stick, a
piece of wood, the feet of a cock were sufficient for
his need. He was if one may be forgiven a
parallel from another art of our side of the world
the Paganini of Japanese painting.
THE PAINTINGS OF HOKUSAI 49
But from the caligraphic point of view the
Japanese critics hold that his work lacks refinement.
It is that of an imperfectly educated man : coarse,
clumsy, without taste. Moreover, he was indeed a
realist. The old painters, even of the so-called
Naturalistic sects, learned not from Nature, but
from tradition. Hokusai tried to see for himself,
and how great was the task is seen by his own
words : " At the age of six," said he, " I had a
fancy for reproducing form ; for fifty years I made
many book illustrations, but even at seventy I had
little skill. Only when I reached the age of seventy-
three did I begin to understand how rightly to
represent animals, birds, insects, fish, plants. At
ninety I shall be better ; at a hundred I shall be
sublime ; at a hundred and ten I shall give life to
every line, to every dot. Let no one mock at
these words ! " There was no false humility in
these sayings. They are the plain truth as he,
above all others, realised it. And they crystallise
for us the splendid courage, the unfailing confidence
with which the artist hailed his old age as the
messenger not of failing powers and weakness
but of wider intelligence and perfected accomplish-
ment. He knew that he had but the span of his
own life to attain that which had occupied genera-
tions of his predecessors. He failed, but with so
magnificent an effort as covered him with eternal
glory. But his failure and his knowledge of it
was proclaimed in the infinite pathos of his dying
words : " If Fate had given me but five years
There are but few of his paintings available for
the study of Western critics, and it is hard to deal
with them as one may with the works of a Euro-
pean painter. Generally, as will have been gathered
from the foregoing notes, they represent single
figures warriors or deities, birds, animals, groups
of fruit, and the like, drawn with splendid force and
precision and tinted sometimes lightly and some-
times with deep, rich masses of colour. Hokusai
has suffered greatly from his imitators, and only a
small proportion of the drawings bearing his name
can justly be attributed to him. In judging one of
these, one must accept only the best. The super-
ficial characteristics of his style were easy to repro-
duce, and two at least of his pupils, Teisai Hokuba
and Hokkei, come very near to the master therein.
But by Hokusai himself is to be found nothing
which is not of the best, and our standard, in justice
A HERO WRITING A POEM
THE PAINTINGS OF HOKUSAI 51
to him, must therefore be of the most rigid. The
" old man mad with painting " loved his art far too
well to do bad work.
Hokusai founded no enduring school. While
he lived his pupils followed more or less closely in
his footsteps, but lost the trail as soon as the great
inspiration of his personality was removed. He
stood apart also from the other men of the Ukiyoye
School apart from and above them. His one suc-
cessor who owed nothing to the direct teaching
of the master was the wild and turbulent genius,
Kyosai, an artist who, had he possessed Hokusai's
intense and consuming devotion to art alone, to the
exclusion of all other interests and passions, might
very nearly have equalled his great predecessor.
THE ARTIST AND THE MAN
IT is not a little difficult to place Hokusai
rightly in the hierarchy of art. He stands
in solitude, both as regards his compatriots
and the artists of other nations. But his position
in the eyes of Japanese connoisseurs has been much
misunderstood, and a correct statement of it will
not only be serviceable in solving the greater
problem, but affords a singularly interesting illustra-
tion of a curious and instructive phase of the social
life of Japan.
The secret of the whole matter is revealed by
the sign that Hokusai himself affixed to his dwell-
ing Hachiyemon, Peasant. He was always, con-
sciously and proudly, an artisan ; a member of the
Lower Order in the social scale. He was poor all
his life, in spite of the not inconsiderable earnings
THE ARTIST AND THE MAN 53
of his brush. He dwelt among the poor and lived
as they did. They were his chief clients. His
pupils were drawn from the same class. Hokkei,
one of the greatest of them, was an itinerant fish-
seller before he became an artist. Too much stress
has been laid by some writers on his appearance
before the Shogun, but this must not be interpreted
in the sense of involving a serious recognition of his
powers on the part of the aristocracy. The incident
was merely a casual patronage of an unusually
clever entertainer ; for his dexterity in the making
of gigantic or minute drawings was probably only
looked upon as something akin to the feats of a
juggler. The democracy of Japan had its own
school of artists, realists in sentiment, if not alto-
gether in the convention by which it was expressed.
The subjects it treated were altogether vulgar and
despicable in the eyes of the educated and refined
Japanese, and the manner of drawing them was
considered somewhat coarse and illiterate the calli-
graphic standard of excellence being always, be it
remembered, the final test of draughtsmanship.
We care for none of these refinements. Hokusai's
sympathy with and appreciation of mere humanity,
in its everyday phases, appeals to us in his favour.
We do not realise the great gulf that existed
between the old feudalism of Japan and the masses
which lived, happily enough, on the whole, under
its sway. We do not understand the subtleties of
Japanese higher art criticism. And so, while many
Europeans have gone immeasurably astray in their
estimate of Hokusai's rank in the art of Japan ; in
that of the world which is over and beyond all
local cults and criticisms, all racial, political, or
geographical limitations, we set him, rightly,
among the greatest.
It is a habit of critics, justifiable when used in
moderation, to gauge the worth of one man by
comparing him with another. Logically, this pro-
cess is not of great value, since it assumes an esti-
mate of the second which may not be generally
acceptable. Yet in this case some enlightenment
as to certain qualities of both may follow, and, at
all events, the particular comparison is new, so far
as I know.
The one artist who appears to me to have the
closest kinship with Hokusai, in certain phases of
his work, is the great French draughtsman, Honore
Daumier. Both were caricaturists, though from
standpoints very different. Hokusai's exaggeration
THE ARTIST AND THE MAN 55
of the human face and figure is inspired by pure
joyousness. It is, quite simply, fun ; and has nothing
in common with the bitter and biting satire of the
French artist. Neither does Hokusai, in spite of
the hardship and sorrow of his life, ever depict the
seamy or pathetic side of humanity. One of the
invariable and most beautiful of his characteristics
is an unceasing happiness, a feature not far removed
from that which inspired the best period of Greek
art. But in method these two otherwise dissimilar
geniuses come much more nearly together. Daumier
worked mainly with soft, easily flowing litho-
graphic chalk. His line has much of that calli-
graphic quality which all Japanese connoisseurs
admire and all Japanese artists strive for. In his
interpretation of the figure by this means he has,
like Hokusai, a fine disregard of non-essentials and
the keenest eye for those salient points that compel
the instant recognition and admiration of the
beholder. Allowing for the wide difference of
what may be termed national conventions, the two
artists come very closely together in their treatment
of similar subjects, much more so than probably
appears at first sight. Both are masters of the art
of expressing their minds with a few poignant
strokes of brush or pencil. Stripped of the dis-
guise imposed on each by the traditions which
dominated him, their work, in its technique alto-
gether, and partly in its application to the scenes
and events of daily life, seems to me to rest largely
on a common basis.
Hokusai's output was enormous. Only for the
few and brief intervals when absolute destitution
interrupted it, did his production cease during the
seventy odd years of his working life. And it must
be remembered that he finished his drawings and
paintings at lightning speed. The Japanese artist
never spends half a year or more on the slow and
laboured building up of one picture. When he is
ready to paint when the idea is formulated and
crystallised in his mind the execution is a matter
of minutes. And Hokusai was extraordinarily
facile, even by the measure of his compatriots.
Moreover, his invention was inexhaustible. Prac-
tically he never repeated himself. Many of the
Japanese artists of the formal schools are altogether
lacking in this respect. They rarely departed from
the themes that they had prescribed for themselves,
or that their masters had formulated for them.
This, too, is a point that appeals to Western critics,
DESIGN FOR A LANTERN-HOLDER
and raises Hokusai in their eyes, though in those of
the Japanese it hardly helps his credit.
It has already been explained that in Japan
Hokusai is not an artist of the first rank. He is
indeed at the head of his school, but the school is
that of the lowest repute. The fact that he, in the
practice of his art, rose infinitely beyond the standard
of his fellows has not removed the prejudice attach-
ing to them. The painters of Japan apart from
those of the Ukiyo-ye School were professedly
idealists. Realism, as we understand the word,
was to them evidence of a lack both of imagination
and of culture. Their abstractions were formulae
for the expression of poetic, literary or religious
ideas, and the portrayal of scenes of everyday
life was inherently vulgar. One has no right
altogether to deny one's sympathy to this point of
view. There are more things in its favour than
would at first sight appear. For the Ukiyo-ye artists,
it must be admitted, did not, as a class, paint Nature
as do our realists. Their subjects were largely
derived from the stage (which was not only
neglected, but actively despised in all its ways by
the upper classes of society), and from the singing-
girls and the courtesans. With these they would
THE ARTIST AND THE MAN 59
burlesque the time-honoured histories and customs
of the aristocracy, and so gained a reputation for
absolute vulgarity. The heroes, the famous scenes
of their country's story, the processions of nobles
before which they still had to abase themselves by
the wayside : all are represented, in some of the
best of the colour-print work, by courtesans. We,
in our happy ignorance, miss the point of these
beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, but we should
remember, and allow for, the fact that to the eye
and taste of a refined Japanese gentleman they
could hardly be less than abhorrent.
By this admeasurement, even, Hokusai stands
above his fellows. For him these tawdry artifici-
alities counted little when weighed with the
realities of human life and the beauties of Nature
that his unwearied eyes loved to gaze upon. In
his mature years he followed neither the conven-
tion of his academic predecessors nor the practice of
his compatriots. He was, indeed, a realist free,
unfettered, and a law unto himself. And it is in
virtue of his great humanity, as well as of the
splendour of his gift of artistry that, in our eyes, he
ranks with the masters of the world's art.
Not less is his rank as a man : such a one as
Thomas Carlyle, of all writers, would have loved
to write of. His single-minded devotion to his art,
his wit, his kindliness, the unfailing respect he
exacted not for himself, but for his calling all
these are qualities belonging to a character of the
noblest. Hokusai made many friends. His sayings
have been cherished and his memory kept green in
a manner which none of the contemporaries of his
class have earned. Such glimmerings of light as fall
upon the lives of some of these Utamaro, Yeisen,
one of the Hiroshige, for instance show them to
have been men of a moral stamp sufficiently far re-
moved from that of the Spartan old philosopher whose
one fault would dimly appear to have been improvi-
dence or perhaps unreasoning generosity. The
titles he chose for his prints prove him to have
had no slight feeling for poetry, were any further
proof required than that furnished by the prints
themselves. His epitaph translates easily into our
idiom, for all the world to read " Here lies
Hokusai, a famous artist honest and true."
TRANSLATIONS ot the titles of the <( Hundred Views of
Mount Fuji " have been published by Mr. F. V. Dickins.
M. E. de Goncourt, M. Hayashi, and M. Revon have
furnished versions in French of those of most of his
known books, and of many surimono and other prints.
By way of giving additional help to collectors, the
following renderings are now set forth compiled mainly
from material collected by M. Bing, and from the cata-
logue of the collection of Japanese Colour Prints in the
Victoria and Albert Museum.
I. THE THIRTY-SIX VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI
Note. As explained in chapter iii. there are really
forty-six of this series. The titles are given in
De Goncourt's order, which is now generally
accepted by collectors.
1 Yejiri (Suruga). A puff of wind.
2 Ono-shinden (Suruga). Oxen hauling wood.
3 Katakura (Suruga). The tea-fields ; a man shoeing
4 Fujimi-no-hara (Owari). A cooper making an irri-
5 Koishikawa (Yedo). Snow; a woman pointing at
Mount Fuji to a group in a tea-house,
6 Todo-no-Ura. Torii and gatherers of shell-fish.
7 Fuji from Minobugawa. Horses on the river bank.
8 Fine weather and a south wind. Mount Fuji a rich
red against a deep blue sky, with trails of snow
at the peak ; and clouds behind.
9 Storm at the foot of the mountain.
10 Ascent by pilgrims.
11 Narumi (Kazusa). A large boat.
12 Ushibori (Hitati). A large boat, of which only half
13 Lake Suwa (Shinano). A hut under a tree.
14 Yamanaka (Totomi). Sawyers at work on a great
baulk of timber.
15 Onden. The water-wheel.
1 6 Inume-togai (Kahi). Mount Fuji, with snow-
covered peak, deep red base, and blue between.
17 Sansaka (Kahi). Mount Fuji reflected in the lake.
18 The pass of Mishima (Kahi). A great cedar whose
trunk is being measured by three men.
19 Dawn at Isawa (Kahi).
20 Kanagawa on the T5kaido. The great wave, with
Mount Fuji in its hollow.
21 Hodogawa on the TokaidS. The bridge of boats in
22 Yoshida on the Tokaido. Tea-house.
23 Kanaya on the Tokaido. A litter carried over a
24 The strand at Togo near Yeijiri on the T5kaid5.
25 Yenoshima (Sagami) island.
26 Nakabara (Sagami). Coolies near a Buddhist monu-
27 Shitiri-ga-hama (Sagami). A cluster of trees.
28 The lake of Hakone (Sagami).
29 Minesama (Sagami). A flock of geese.
30 Tatekawa in the Honj5 Quarter of Yedo. The dis-
trict of the timber merchants.
31 The Mannen-bashi (bridge) at Fukugawa, Yedo.
32 The pagoda of the Five Hundred Rakan, Yedo.
Sightseers on the terrace.
33 The great pine-tree of Aoyama, Yedo.
34 Kajika-sawa (Kahi). Also called Itchi-butchi-sawa.
Fisherman casting a net from an overhanging ledge
35 Meguro district, Yedo.
36 Senju district, Yedo. Shoeing a horse with straw.
37 Fuji from the town of flowers (Yoshiwara) of Senju.
38 Tsukuda-shima. An island at the mouth ol the
Sumida river, with a boat loaded with cotton.
39 The Tamagawa (river), Musashi. Small boat loaded
40 Fuji from Shinagawa at Yedo.
41 Fuji from the Nihonbashi (bridge) at Yedo.
42 The shops of Mitsui at Yedo.
43 Surugadai at Yedo. A hill in the centre of the city,
44 The Buddhist Temple Hongwanji at Asakusa, Yedo.
Workmen repairing the gable.
45 Evening and the Ryo-goku Bridge, Yedo.
46 The village of Sekuja on the Sumida river. Three
II. THE FAMOUS WATERFALLS
Round the waterfalls in various provinces. Signed
Zen Hokusai Tamekazu. 8 prints. (Printer's
1 Aoi-ga-oka cascade, Yedo.
2 Roben waterfall in the Oyama mountain (Sagami
province) with bathers.
3 Kirifuri cascade in Nikkd.
4 Yoro waterfall in Mino province.
5 Amida waterfall, near the Kiso road.
6 Ono waterfall, on the Kiso road.
7 Kiyotaki cascade at Saka-no-Shita on the Tokaido.
8 Yoshitsune Uma-arai cascade (cascade where Yoshit-
sune's horse was washed), in Yoshino mountain.
III. THE FAMOUS BRIDGES
Picturesque views of famous bridges in several
provinces. Signed Zen Hokusai Tamekazu. n
prints. (Printer's seal, Yeijudo.)
1 A suspension bridge between the two provinces, Hi
and Etsu (The Monkey-Bridge)
2 Fukui bridge in the Echizen province.
3 Yatsuhashi, in the Mikawa province; from an old
4 View of Tempozan, with two bridges at the entrance
of the Aji river in Osaka.
5 Temma bridge in Osaka.
6 A bridge near Ashikaga.
7 Taiko (drum) bridge at Kameido, Yedo.
8 Kintai bridge in Suo province,
g Yahage bridge at Okazaki.
10 Togetsu bridge at Arashi-yama, near Kyoto.
1 1 Bridge of boats at Sano in Kozuke province ; from an
IV. THE VIEWS OF OSAKA
Famous views of Osaka. 20 prints,
i Sunrise at Sakura-no-miya. The early morning mist
2, Kawasaki ; the return of the wild ducks.
3 The swallows of Watashiba with children flying kites
4 Cherry-blossom at Matsunoshita and peach-blossom
5 The Temmabashi in late spring ; and mirage at
6 Arrival of a ferry-boat at Hachiken-Ya and green
vegetable market at Ichinokawa.
7 The crowd at Temmei Bridge : a school-boy's visit
to Temmei Ten j in.
8 Fishing at Ajikawa.
9 The cry of the cuckoo in the rainy season of the sth
month at Higashi-bori.
10 The castle of Osaka.
1 1 The summer moon at Korai bridge.
12 Fireflies at Kinsoba when the evening bell rings from
the Horikawa Temple.
13 The song of the crickets at Tahei bridge ; with the
fishermen of Kitahama.
14 Fireworks at Naniwa bridge.
15 The beginning of a storm at Yamazaki : autumn
1 6 River fog at Funairi bridge.
17 Dragon-flies at Nakanoshima.
18 " Urabon " scene at Oye bridge, Hojima, in the
beginning of autumn. (" Urabon " is a Buddhist
feast of Hindu origin, on the I3th-i6th days of the
7th month, when offerings are made to deceased
19 Feast of Jizo at Yoriba ; a procession of children
with images of Jizd, and a seller of insects (Higo-
20 Moonlight on Watanabe bridge.
V. THE VIEWS OF YEDO
Views of Yedo and the neighbourhood. A set of
i Shinagawa. A refreshment stall with a view of Yedo
2 Umeyashiki. Plum-garden.
3 Asakayama. Picnic in the season of cherry-
4 Kameido ; the Temple of Tenjin : famous for wis-
taria flowers. A Shinto priest with a votive offering,
speaking to a sweeper.
5 Sacred procession at the festival of Fukagawa
6 The Nihon-bashi. The Uwogashi (Fish-market).
7 Part of the procession at the festival of Sanno
Temple, burlesquing the suite of the Corean Envoy.
8 Tenjin Temple at Yushima.
9 Shinobazu Lake. Gathering lotus-leaves used for
enfolding offerings to departed souls at the " Bon "
festival (yth month).
10 Sumida river. Women enjoying the cool breeze.
11 The Yoshiwara on the ist day of the 8th month,
when all the courtesans wear white.
12 Enjoying the cool air beneath Ryogoku bridge.
13 A crowd at the Shimmei Temple, Shiba. Every one
buys there raw ginger, and steel for use with flints.
14 Visit to Homyoji Temple at Zojigawa, and to Myohoji
Temple at Horinuchi about the isth day of the
loth month; the anniversary of the death of
Nichiren (A.D. 1282), founder of the Hokki sect.
15 Temple of Kanda Myojin. A boy seven years of age,
being invested for the first time in a man's garments.
1 6 Meguro Temple devoted to the deity Fudo.
17 The steps leading to the Atago Temple,
1 8 Woji Temple. The scene of a festival held on the
day of the Horse in the 2nd month.
19 The last day's Fair at Asakusa Temple.
30 Theatre at Sakai street.
21 Snow scene at Mimeguri.
VI. THE SMALL TOKAIDO
Tokaido go-yu-san-tsugi. The Fifty-three stages
of the Tokaido road. 56 prints.
1 Nihonbashi, Yedo, near Uwoogashi (Fish-market).
2 Shinagawa. A brothel.
3 Kawasaki. A ferry.
4 Kanagawa. An entertainment with Geisha.
5 Hodogawa. Fish-reservoir.
6 Totsuka. A large Buddha image.
7 Fujisawa. Coast near Yenoshima islet.
8 Hiratsuka. An entrance to a temple.
9 Oiso. A stone called Torakoishi. The famous Oiso-
no-Tora, a courtesan (i3th cent.) is said to have
metamorphosed herself into this stone : some say
that this stone is so called because its shape re-
sembles a " trepang " (Torako).
10 Odawara. A stall for resting.
11 Hakone. Ladies in palanquin.
12 Mishima. A temple. Postmen running.
13 Numadzu. A palanquin resting.
14 Haras. Corean Envoy and his suite wondering at
the Mount Fuji.
15 Yoshiwara. Preparing white wine.
16 Kambara. Making salt.
17 Yui. A Chinese writing a "Gaku" to Sei-ken-do
1 8 Okitsu. Pine forest at Mio.
19 Yejiri. A palanquin-bearer and a horse-driver out
20 Fuchu. A house of bad repute.
21 Mariko. Preparing broth.
22 Okabi. Discharging a hackney-horse.
23 Fujiyeda. Travellers (to the left) and pilgrims (to
24 Shimada. River-waders. A river-wader asking to
be hired by a passenger, who can only cross the
river Oi on his shoulders.
25 Kanaya. Scene of the river Oi.
26 Nissaka. Ascending the slope.
27 Kakegawa. Huge kites, for which this district is
28 Fukoroi. Passengers, a Priest, and a Pilgrim.
29 Maisaka. Embarking to cross I magiri gulf. Imagire
means "New Cut"; it was formerly a lake, but
became a gulf by a land- slip, A.D. 1499.
30 Arai. Barrier-gate, and officers examining the pass-
31 Shirasuka. A group of passengers.
32 Futagawa. A horse-driver shoeing his horse.
33 Yoshida. A long bridge called Toyohashi,
34 Goyu. A mound dedicated to a deity called Koshin.
35 Akasaka. A macaroni house.
36 Fujikawa. A woman on a hackney-horse.
37 Hamamatsu. A lotus-pond.
38 Mitsuke. A spear-bearer waiting for his master, a
39 Akazaki. A procession of a " Daimy5."
40 Chirifu. A boy meeting a huge carp.
41 Narumi. Famous for stencil-work. Here a shop
for its sale is painted.
42 Miya. Ferry-boats.
43 Kawana. Baking clams.
44 Yokkaichi. Ise pilgrims, who travel to the Temple
of Ise, by charities.
45 Ishiyakushi. The renowned " Ushiwaka " cherry-
46 Shono. Boys driving a bull.
47 Kameyama. Travellers resting in a tavern.
48 Seki. Passengers in snow.
49 Sakanoshita. A "Komuso" (warrior-mendicant)
speaking with a girl.
50 Isuchiyama. Azalea-flowers.
51 Minakuchi. A tavern ; selling sea-weed jelly.
52 Kusatsu. A passenger, a hackney-driver, and
53 Ishibe. Passengers on a drawbridge.
54 Otsu. A fountain.
55 Kyoto. Emperor's procession.
56 Imperial court.
Printed by BALLANTYNE &> Co. LIMITED
Tavistock Street, London
SOME PRESS OPINIONS
THE TIMES. "Another series of little art monographs ^which is as
attractive in format as any."
THE STANDARD. " This nicely printed little volume contains repro-
ductions of some of the more famous Bartolozzi prints, together
with a list of most of the important ones."
MORNING POST. " The Langham Series: The first volume, ' Barto-
lozzi and his Pupils in England? by Mr. Selwyn Brinton, is an
excellent summary of a subject most popular at the present time.
It should prove a great boon to the collector."
PALL MALL GAZETTE. "Mr. Brinton is himself a collector and
knows his subject thoroughly. The volume is illustrated, and should
make an appeal to all interested in the art of engraving."
" WESTMINSTER GAZETTE." " 'Bartolozzi,' by Selwyn Brinton (A.
Siegle), is the first of what promises to prove a series of very
dainty little monographs on artistic subjects. . . . Mr. Selivyn
Brinton^ -whose excellent volumes on the Italian Renaissance and
Correggio will be known to many readers, writes of his subject
with admirable knowledge and discrimination ; and to all who
would learn more of Bartolozzi and his work, his brightly written
pageS) which are embellished by many dainty illustrations t may
be cordially commended."
ACADEMY AND LITERATURE. " Bartolozzi and his Pupils in Eng-land."
" In this delightful little book we have a most excellent collectio,
of prints from the master . . . We have in complete, cheap, cor.
venient form, well indexed and nicely printed what may prove i
SCOTSMAN. " There is undoubtedly a considerable body of collectors
of Bartolozzi' s works in this country, and this little book should
serve as a handbook to such persons."
BIRMINGHAM DAILY POST. " The first volume of the series, 'Barto-
lozzi and his Pupils in England,' is full of information to the
lovers of specimens of the engravers' art."
THE OBSERVER. " Well produced and written by acknowledged
authorities^ these new little books will probably find a ready
welcome. ' '
THE SHEFFIELD INDEPENDENT. "Mr. Brinton presents us with a
wholly sympathetic and adequate study of Bartolozzi 's work."
IRISH TIMES (Dublin). " 'Bartolozzi and his Pupils in England' is
a charming little book dealing with the life of the famous engraver.
Mr. Brinton writes with a thorough knowledge of his subject."
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K35S8 with painting