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On the Reverse. 


A Crow Stealing a Sword. 

This sword is a famous heirloom of the 

ancient house of Genji, described in the old 

romance known as " Genji Monogatori." 

By Hokusai. 







The things of Heaven 
and of Buddha : The Life of Men 

and Women. 
From the Mang-na ofHokusai. 


Copyright 1905 



The Tomoye Press 





The Rise of Ukiyo-ye (The Floating World) Page 1 

Genroku (The Golden Era of Romance and Art) - - - - "13 

The School of Torii (The Printers' Branch of Ukiyo-ye) - - - "25 

Utamaro (Le Fondateur de L'Ecole de la Vie) " 35 
The Romance of Hokusai (Master of Ukiyo-ye) --.-." 47 

Hiroshige (Landscape Painter and Apostle of Impressionism) - - "57 

Analytical Comparisons between the Masters of Ukiyo-ye - - - "69 

Hints to Collectors of Ukiyo-ye Gems ------ "77 

Bibliography, for Use of Students "78 

Fac-similes of the Most Famous Signatures of the Ukiyo-ye Artists - "80 

Index "83 


Hiroshige I Biwa, the Beautiful Lake, named after the four- 
stringed Lute Frontispiece 
Suzuki Harunobu An Illustration from the "Occupations of 

Women" Opposite Page 22 

Kiyonaga Under the Cherry Blooms ----- 30 

Toyokuni The Actor Kikugoro ------ 34 

* Utamaro While Mother Sleeps 40 

Hokusai Two Ladies "48 

Hok'kei A River Scene " 52 

Hiroshige Wistaria Viewing at Kameido - 58 

Yeishi Two Ladies 70 

Shunko An actor in the Miyako Dance 72 

Kitugawa Yeizan The Snowstorm - 74 

Hokusai One of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji - 76 

Hokusai Surimono : A Crow Stealing a Sword - First Fly-leaf 

Yanagawa Shigenobu The Ride of the Warrior Miura Kenisuke Last Fly-leaf 

* From the Happer Collection. 


The Rise of Ukiyo-ye. 

The Floating World. 

HE Art of Ukiyo-ye is a "spiritual rendering of the 
realism and naturalness of the daily life, intercourse with 
nature, and imaginings, of a lively impressionable race, in 
the full tide of a passionate craving for art." This char- 
acterization of Jarves sums up forcibly the motive of the masters of 
Ukiyo-ye, the Popular School of Japanese Art, so poetically inter- 
preted "The Floating World." 

To the Passionate Pilgrim, and devotee of nature and art, who 
has visited the enchanted Orient, it is unnecessary to prepare the way 
for the proper understanding of Ukiyo-ye. This joyous idealist 
trusts less to dogma than to impressions. "I know nothing of Art, 
but I know what I like," is the language of sincerity, sincerity which 
does not take a stand upon creed or tradition, nor upon cut and dried 
principles and conventions. It is truly said that "they alone can pre- 
tend to fathom the depth of feeling and beauty in an alien art, who 
resolutely determine to scrutinize it from the point of view of an inhab- 
itant of the place of its birth." 

To the born cosmopolite, who assimilates alien ideas by instinct, 
or the gauging power of his sub-conscious intelligence, the feat is easy, 
but to the less intuitively gifted, it is necessary to serve a novitiate, in 
order to appreciate "a wholly recalcitrant element like Japanese Art, 
which at once demands attention, and defies judgment upon accepted 
theories." These sketches are not an individual expression, but an 
endeavour to give in condensed form the opinions of those qualified by 



study and research to speak with authority upon the form 
The Rise of Japanese Art, which in its most concrete development 
Ukiyo-ye. *^ e Ukiyo-ye print is now claiming the attention of the 
art world. 

The development of colour printing is, however, only the objec- 
tive symbol of Ukiyo-ye, for, as our Western oracle, Professor Fen- 
ollosa, said, "The true history of Ukiyo-ye, although including prints 
as one of its most fascinating diversions, is not a history of the tech- 
nical art of printing, rather an aesthetic history of a peculiar kind 
of design." 

The temptation to make use of one more quotation, in concluding 
these introductory remarks, is irresistible, for in it Walter Pater sets 
his seal upon art as a legitimate pursuit, no matter what form it takes, 
though irreconcilable with preconceived ideas and traditions. "The 
legitimate contention is not of one age or school of art against another, 
but of all successive schools alike, against the stupidity which is dead 
to the substance, and the vulgarity which is dead to form." 

As the Popular School (Ukiyo-ye) was the outcome of over a 
thousand years of growth, it is necessary to glance back along the 
centuries uforder to understand and follow the processes of its de- 

Though the origin of painting in Japan is shrouded in obscurity, 
and veiled in tradition, there is no doubt that China and Corea were 
the direct sources from which she derived her art; whilst more in- 
directly she was influenced by Persia and India, the sacred fount 
of oriental art, as of religion, which ever went hand in hand. 

In China, the Ming dynasty gave birth to an original style, which 



for centuries dominated the art of Japan; the sweeping 
calligraphic strokes of Hokusai mark the sway of The Rise 
hereditary influence, and his wood-cutters, trained to 

follow the graceful, fluent lines of his purely Japanese 
work, were staggered by his sudden flights into angular realism. 

The Chinese and Buddhist schools of art dated from the 
sixth century, and in Japan the Emperor Heizei founded an im- 
perial academy in 808. This academy, and the school of Yamato, 
founded by Motomitsu in the eleventh century, led up to the celebrated 
school of Tosa, which with Kano, its august and aristocratic rival, 
held undisputed supremacy for centuries, until challenged by plebeian 
Ukiyo-ye, the school of the common people of Japan. 

Tosa has been characterized as the "manifestation of ardent 
faith, through the purity of an ethereal style." Tosa represented the 
taste of the court of Kyoto, and was relegated to the service of the 
aristocracy; it reflected the esoteric mystery of Shinto and the hal- 
lowed entourage of the divinely descended Mikado. The ceremonial 
of the court, its fetes and religious solemnities, dances attended by 
daimios, in robes of state falling in full harmonious folds, were 
depicted with consummate elegance and delicacy of touch, which 
betrayed familiarity with the occult methods of Persian miniature 
painting. The Tosa artists used very fine, pointed brushes, and set 
off the brilliance of their colouring with resplendent backgrounds in 
gold leaf, and it is to Tosa we owe the intricate designs, almost 
microscopic in detail, which are to be seen upon the most beautiful 
specimens of gold lacquer work; and screens, which for richness have 
never been surpassed 



Japanese Art was ever dominated by the priestly 
The Rise hierarchy, and also by temporal rulers, and of this 
Ukiyo-ye. ^ e sc ^l f Tosa was a noted example, as it received 
its title from the painter-prince, Tsunetaka, who, besides 
being the originator of an artistic centre, held the position of vice- 
governor of the province of Tosa. From its incipience, Tosa owed its 
prestige to the Mikado and his nobles, as later Kano became the 
official school of the usurping Shoguns. Thus the religious, political 
and artistic history of Japan were ever closely allied. The Tosa 
style was combated by the influx of Chinese influence, culminating in 
the fourteenth century, in the rival school of Kano. The school of 
Kano owed its origin to China. At the close of the fourteenth cen- 
tury the Chinese Buddhist priest, Josetsu, left his own country for 
Japan, and bringing with him Chinese tradition, he founded a new 
dynasty whose descendants still represent the most illustrious school of 
painting in Japan. The Kano school to this day continues to be 
the stronghold of classicism, which in Japan signifies principally 
adherence to Chinese models, a traditional technique, and avoidance 
of subjects which represent every-day life. The Chinese calligraphic 
stroke lay at the root of the technique of Kano, and the Japanese brush 
owed its facility elementarily to the art of writing. Dexterous 
handling of the brush is necessary to produce these bold, incisive 
strokes, and the signs of the alphabet require little expansion to resolve 
themselves into draped forms, and as easily they can be decomposed 
into their abstract element. 

Walter Crane inculcates the wisdom of this method for prelim- 
inary practice with the brush in his valuable study, "Line and Form," 



but the Chinese and Japanese ideographs give a far 

wider scope to initial brush work. The Rise 

The early artists of Kano reduced painting to an ijkiyo-ye. 
academic art, and destroyed naturalism, until the genius 
of Masanobu, who gave his name to the school, and still more, that 
of his son, Motonobu, the real "Kano," grafted on to Chinese models, 
and monotony o monochrome, a warmth of colour and harmony of 
design which regenerated and revivified the whole system. Kano 
yielded to Chinese influence, Tosa combated it, and strove for a 
purely national art, Ukiyo-ye bridged the chasm, and became the 
exponent of both schools, bringing about an expansion in art which 
could never have been realized by these aristocratic rivals. The 
vigour and force of the conquering Shoguns led Kano, while the lustre 
of Tosa was an emanation from the sanctified and veiled Mikado. 

The favourite subjects of the Kano painters were chiefly Chinese 
saints and philosophers, mythological and legendary heroes, repre- 
sented in various attitudes with backgrounds of conventional clouds 
and mists, interspersed with symbolical emblems. Many of the Kano 
saints and heroes bear a striking resemblance to mediaeval subjects, as 
they are often represented rising from billowy cloud masses, robed in 
ethereal draperies, and with heads encircled by the nimbus. 

Beneath the brush of Motonobu, formal classicism melted. In 
this new movement, says Kakuzo Okakura, "art fled from man to 
nature, and in the purity of ink landscapes, in the graceful spray of 
bamboos and pines, sought and found her asylum." 

Space will not permit a glance at the personnel of the many 
schools of Japanese Art. A lengthy catalogue alone would be required 



to enumerate the masters who inaugurated schools. 

The Rise for if an artist developed exceptional talent in Japan, 

Ukiyo-ye ^ e immediately founded an individual school, and it 

was incumbent upon his descendants for generations to 

adhere rigidly to the principles he had inculcated, so becoming slaves 

to traditional methods. 

During the anarchy of the fourteenth century art stagnated in 
Japan, but a revival, corresponding with our European Renaissance, 
followed. The fifteenth century in Japan, as in Europe, was essen- 
tially the age of revival. Wm. Anderson epitomizes in one pregnant 
phrase this working power: "All ages of healthy human prosperity 
are more or less revivals. A little study would probably show that 
the Ptolemaic era in Egypt was a renaissance of the Theban age, 
in architecture as in other respects, while the golden period of 
Augustus in Rome was largely a Greek revival." There seems ever 
to have been a reciprocal action in Japanese Art. Tosa, famed for 
delicacy of touch, minutiae of detail and brilliance of colour, yielded 
to the black and white, vigorous force of Kano. Kano again was 
modified by the glowing colouring introduced by Kano Masanobu 
and Motonobu. Later we see the varied palette of Miyagawa 
Choshun efface the monochromic simplicity of Moronobu, the ring- 
leader of the printers of Ukiyo-ye. 

The leading light in art in the beginning of the fifteenth century 
was Cho Densu, the Fra Angelico of Japan, who, a simple monk, 
serving in a Kyoto temple, must in a trance of religious and artistic 
ecstasy have beheld a spectrum of fadeless dyes, so wondrous were 
the colours he lavished upon the draperies of his saints and sages. 



The splendour of this beatific vision has never faded, 

for the masters who followed in the footsteps of the The Rise 

inspired monk reverently preserved the secret of these uiuy -ye. 

precious shades, till at last, in the form of the Ukiyo-ye 

print, they were sown broadcast, and revolutionized the colour sense 

of the art world. 

It has been remarked that Japanese Art of the nineteenth century 
is often nothing but a reproduction of the works of the ancient great 
masters, and the methods and mannerisms of the fifteenth century 
artists have ever served as examples for later students. The glory of 
the fifteenth century was increased by Mitsunobu of Tosa, and above 
all by the two great Kano artists, Masanobu and his son, Motonobu, 
who received the title of "Hogen," and is referred to as "Ko Hogen," 
or the ancient Hogen, of whom it has been remarked, "He filled the 
air with luminous beams." 

By the close of the fifteenth century the principles of art in Japan 
became definitely fixed, as, almost contemporaneously, Giotto estab- 
lished a canon of art in Florence, which he, in turn, had received 
from the Attic Greeks, through Cimabue, and which was condensed 
by Ruskin into a grammar of art, under the term "Laws of Fesole." 

The two great schools, Tosa and Kano, flourished independently 
until the middle of the eighteenth century, when the genius of the pop- 
ular artists, forming the school of Ukiyo-ye, gradually fused the tradi- 
tions of Tosa and Kano, absorbing the methods of these rival 
schools, which, differing in technique and motive, were united in their 
proud disdain of the new art which dared to represent the manners 
and customs of the common people. Harunobu and Hokusai, 



Kiyonaga and Hiroshige were the crowning glory of all 

The Rise the schools, the artists whose genius told the story 

Ukiyo-ye. ^ t ^ ie * r countr y day by day, weaving a century of 

history into one living encyclopedia, sumptuous in form, 

kaleidoscopic in colour. 

Ukiyo-ye prepared Japan for intercourse with other nations by 
developing in the common people an interest in other countries, in 
science and foreign culture, and by promoting the desire to travel, 
through the means of illustrated books of varied scenes. To Ukiyo- 
ye, the Japanese owed the gradual expansion of international con- 
sciousness, which culminated in the revolution of 1 868, a revolu- 
tion, the most astonishing in history, accomplished as if by miracle; 
but the esoteric germ of this seemingly spontaneous growth of Meiji 
lay in the atelier of the artists of Ukiyo-ye. 

To trace the evolution of the Popular School in its development 
through nearly three centuries is a lengthy study, of deep interest. 
The mists of uncertainty gather about the lives of many apostles of 
Ukiyo-ye, from the originator, Iwasa Matahei, to Hiroshige, one of 
the latest disciples, whose changes of style and diversity of signature 
have given rise tp the supposition that as many as three artists are 
entitled to the name. These mists of tradition cannot be altogether 
dispersed by such indefatigable students as M. Louis Gonse, Pro- 
fessor Fenollosa, M. Edmond de Goncourt, Wm. Anderson, John 
S. Happer and many others, but by their aid the methods of Oriental 
Art are clarified and explained. 

Iwasa Matahei, the date of whose birth is given as 1 5 78, is con- 
sidered to be the originator of the Popular School. The spontaneous 



growth of great movements and the mystery of the 

source of genius are illustrated in the career of Matahei. The Rise 

His environment fitted him to follow in the footsteps of 

his master, Mitsunori of Tosa, Yet the city of Kyoto, 
veiled in mystic sanctity, where religion and princely patronage held 
art in conventional shackles, gave birth to the leader of the Popular 
School. Still, was not Kyoto, the sacred heart of Japan, a fit cradle 
for Ukiyo-ye, the life and soul of the Japanese people? 

Matahei and his followers entered into the spirit of the Japanese 
temperament, and from the Popular School sprang liberty and a 
novelty of horizon. The aristocratic schools had confined themselves 
to representations of princely pageantry, to portraiture, and to ideal 
pictures of mythical personages, saints and sages. The tradition of 
China showed in all their landscapes, which reflected ethereal vistas 
classically rendered, of an alien land. Therefore Matahei was con- 
temptuously disowned by Tosa for depicting scenes from the life of 
his countrymen, yet the technique of Kano and Tosa were the birth- 
right of the artists of Ukiyo-ye, an inalienable inheritance in form, 
into which they breathed the spirit of life, thus revivifying an art 
grown cold and academical, and frosted with tradition. The colour- 
ing of Kano had faded, tending continually toward monochrome, but 
the Ukiyo-ye painters restored the use of gorgeous pigments, pre- 
serving the glory of Kano Yeitoku, the court painter to Hideyoshi. 

In the middle of the seventeenth century appeared Hishigawa 
Moronobu, considered by many to be the real founder of Ukiyo-ye. 
His genius welded with the new motif the use of the block for printing, 
an innovation which led to the most characteristic development in 


Ukiyo-ye art. This art of printing, which originated 
The Rise in China and Corea, had, until the beginning of the 
Ukio seventeenth century, been confined solely to the service 

of religion for the reproduction of texts and images, but 
Moronobu conceived the idea of using the form of printed book 
illustration, just coming into vogue, as a channel to set forth the life 
of the people. Besides painting and illustrating books, he began 
printing single sheets, occasionally adding to the printed outlines 
dashes of colour from the brush, principally in orange and green. 
These sheets, the precursors of the Ukiyo-ye prints, superseded the 
Ofsu-pe, impressionistic hand-paintings, draughted hastily for rapid 
circulation. The O/su-pe were sometimes richly illuminated, the 
largest surfaces in the costumes being filled in with a ground of black 
lacquer, and ornamented with layers of gold leaf attached by varnish. 
Moronobu acquired his technique from both Tosa and Kano, but 
was originally a designer for the rich brocades and tissues woven in 
Kyoto. He added to this art that of embroidery, and leaving Kyoto, 
took up this branch at the rival city Yedo, where all the arts and 
crafts were developing under the fostering care of the Tokugawa 
Shoguns, the dynasty with which Ukiyo-ye art is practically co- 
extensive. It was Hishigawa Moronobu who designed for his coun- 
trywomen their luxurious trailing robes, with enormous sleeves, richly 
embroidered, gorgeous and stately garments which he loved to 
reproduce on paper, with marvellous powers of sweeping line. As 
in all fashions of dress, in time the graceful lines became exaggerated 
until, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, they overstepped the 
limits of beauty, and approached the realm of caricature. Today, in 



the modern poster, we see perpetuated the degenerate 

offspring of the genius of Moronobu, of whom it is The Rise 

remarked that his enlarged compositions have the plas- 

ticity of bas-reliefs. 

An artist who greatly influenced Moronobu was Tanyu, of the 
School of Kano, whose masterpiece may be seen at the great temple 
in Kyoto, four painted panels of lions, of indescribable majesty. 
M. Louis Gonse tells us that one of Tanyu's kakemonos, belonging to 
a celebrated French painter, well sustains the test of comparison with 
its companion pictures, in the artist's studio, by Durer, Rembrandt 
and Rubens. Under Tanyu's direction the task of reproducing the 
old masterpieces was undertaken. The artists of Ukiyo-ye were ever 
ready to profit by the teaching of all the schools; therefore, properly 
to follow the methods of the Popular School, we must study the work 
of the old masters and the subjects from which they derived their 

In this brief resume we cannot follow the fluctuations of Japanese 
Art through the centuries. During long periods of conflict and bloody 
internecine strife, art languished; when peace reigned, then in the 
seclusion of their yashi^is these fierce and princely warriors threw 
down their arms and surrendered themselves to the service of beauty 
and of art. Nor had the dainty inmates of their castles languished 
idly during these stirring times. Often they defended their honour 
and their homes against treacherous neighbours. It was a Japanese 
woman who led her conquering countrymen into Corea. In the arts 
of peace the cultured women of Japan kept pace with their lovers and 
husbands. A woman revised and enlarged the alphabet, and some 



of the most beautiful classic poems are ascribed to them. 

The Rise Well might the Japanese fight fiercely for his altar and 

Ukiyo-ye. home, with the thought of the flower-soft hands that were 

waiting to strip him of his armour and stifle with caresses 

the recollection of past conflict. The early history of Japan suggests 

a comparison with ancient Greece, and the Japanese poets might have 

apostrophized their country, as did Byron the land of his adoption: 

9 The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece ! 

Where burning Sappho loved and sung, 
Where grew the arts of war and peace, 
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung ! " 

Happily Japan, unlike Greece, withstood the enervating influences 
of luxury and the passionate adoration of beauty. Princes laboured 
alike with chisel and with brush, and the loftiest rulers disdained not 
the tool of the artisan. Art Industrial kissed Grand Art, which 
remained virile beneath the sturdy benediction. Therefore Japan lives, 
unlike Greece, whose beauty in decay called forth that saddest of 
dirges, ending, 

f Tis Greece, but living Greece no more." 

In Japan, art lightens the burden of labour, utility and beauty go 
hand in hand, and the essential and the real reach upward, and touch 
the beautiful and the ideal. 




The Golden Era of Romance and Art. 

Nen-go of Genroku, from 1688 to 1703, was that 
period of incomparable glory which the Japanese revere 
as the French do the time of Louis the Fourteenth. 
Peace had long reigned and art flourished under the 
fostering care of the Tokugawa Shoguns. 

Then lived the great worker in lacquer, Korin, pupil of Sotatsu, 
the flower painter, unrivalled artists who had absorbed the secrets of 
both Kano and Tosa. Itcho, the grand colourist, flourished, and 
Kenzan, brother of Korin, the "Exponent in pottery decoration of the 
Korin School." 

Yedo, the new capital of the usurping Tokugawas, now became 
the Mecca of genius, rivalling the ancient metropolis Kyoto, for the 
great Shoguns encouraged art in all forms, not disdaining to enroll 
themselves as pupils to the masters in painting and lacquer. The 
greatest ruler became one of the greatest artists, even assuming the 
art title of Sendai Shogun. In this age the height of perfection was 
reached in metal work, both chased and cast. 

"The sword is the soul of the Samurai," says the old Japanese 
motto, therefore its decoration and adornment was a sacred service to 
which genius delighted to dedicate itself. In Japan the greatest artists 
were sometimes carvers and painters and workers in metals in one, and 
suggest comparison with the European masters of two centuries earlier. 
Did not Botticelli take his name from the goldsmith for whom he 
worked, and Leonardo da Vinci began his art life by "twisting metal 



screens for the tombs of trie Medici"? Later we see 

him playing before his patron, Francesco, in Milan, upon 

u * that weird silver harp he had himself constructed, till at 

last, perfected in art, he projected upon canvas the 

Mona Lisa, that "realization of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries 

and exquisite passions." 

Also in Japan, as in Europe, the genius of the nation was conse- 
crated to the dead. More than half of Michelangelo's life was 
devoted to the decoration of tombs, and the shrines of the Shoguns 
are the greatest art monuments in Japan. Preoccupation with graves 
perhaps enabled the Japanese to face death so readily, even embracing 
it upon the slightest pretext. 

Genroku was the acme of the age of chivalry. Its tales of deadly 
duels and fierce vendettas are the delight of the nation. The history 
of the Forty-seven Ronin equals any mediaeval tale of bloodthirsty 
vengeance and feudal devotion. This Japanese vendetta of the sev- 
enteenth century is still re-enacted upon the stage, and remains the 
most popular drama of the day, and the actor designers of Torii ever 
delighted in it as a subject for illustration. A brief outline of the 
story may be of interest and serve to recall its charniing interpretation 
by Mitford. 

The cause of this famous drama of vendetta was the avarice of 
Kotsuki-no-Suke, a courtier of the Shogun at Yedo who might have 
served as prototype for "Pooh Bah," in Gilbert's clever burlesque. 
This pompous official was detailed to receive at his castle and instruct 
in court etiquette two provincial noblemen, to whom had been assigned 
the onerous task of entertaining the Mikado's envoy from Kyoto. In 



return for this tutelage they duly sent many gifts to 
Kotsuki-no-Suke, but not costly enough to gratify the 
rapacity of the Gilbertian minister, who day by day 
became more insufferably arrogant, not having been 
"sufficiently insulted." 

Then a counsellor of one of these great lords, being wise in his 
generation, and fearing for his master's safety, rode at midnight to 
the castle of the greedy official, leaving a present or bribe of a thou- 
sand pieces of silver. This generous donation had the desired effect. 

"You have come early to court, my lord," was the suave welcome 
the unconscious nobleman received the next morning. "I shall have 
the honour of calling your attention to several points of etiquette to- 
day." The next moment the countenance of Kotsuki-no-Suke 
clouded, and, turning haughtily toward his other pupil from whom 
no largesse had been received, he cried, "Here, my lord of Takumi, 
be so good as to tie for me the ribbon of my sock," adding under 
his breath, "boor of the provinces." 

"Stop, my lord!" cried Takumi-no-Kami, and, drawing his dirk, 
he flung it at the insolent nobleman's head. Then a great tumult 
arose. His court cap had saved from death Kptsuki-no-Suke, and 
he fled from the spot, whilst Takumi-no-Kami was arrested, and to 
divert the disgrace of being beheaded, hastily performed hari-kiri; 
his goods and castle were confiscated and his retainers became Ronin 
(literally "Wave Men"), cast adrift to follow their fortunes, roving 
at will. 

The vendetta, sworn to and carried out by these forty-seven faith- 
ful servants, is the sequel of the story. Oishi Kuranosuki, the chief 



of the Ronin, planned the scheme of revenge. To put 
Kotsuki-no-Suke off his guard, the band dispersed, many 
of them under the disguise of workmen taking service 
in the yashifyi of their enemy in order to become familiar 
with the interior of the fortification. 

Meanwhile Kuranosuki, to further mislead his enemies, plunged 
into a life of wild dissipation, until Kotsuki-no-Suke, hearing of his 
excesses, relaxed his own vigilance, only keeping half the guard he 
had at first appointed. The wife and friends of Kuranosuki were 
greatly grieved at his loose conduct, for he took nobody into his con- 
fidence. Even a man from Satsuma, seeing him lying drunk in the 
open street, dared to kick his body, muttering, "Faithless beast, thou 
givest thyself up to women and wine, thou art unworthy of the name 
of a Samurai." 

But Kuranosuki endured the contumely, biding his time, and at 
last, in the winter of the following year, when the ground was white 
with snow, the carefully planned assault was successfully attempted. 
The castle of Kotsuki-no-Suke was taken, but what was the consterna- 
tion of the brave Ronin, when, after a prolonged search, they failed 
to discover their victim! In despair, they were about to despatch 
themselves, in accordance with their severe code of honour, when 
Kuranosuki, pushing aside a hanging picture, discovered a secret 
courtyard. There, hidden behind some sacks of charcoal, they found 
their enemy, and dragged him out, trembling with cold and terror, 
clad in his costly nightrobe of embroidered white satin. Then humbly 
kneeling, Oishi Kuranosuki thus addressed him: "My lor,d, we be- 
seech you to perform Seppuku (happy despatch). I shall have the 



honour to act as your lordship's second, and when, with 
all humility, I shall have received your lordship's head, 
it is my intention to lay it as an offering upon the grave 
of our master, Asano-Takumi-no-Kami." Unfortu- 
nately, the carefully planned programme of the Ronin failed to recom- 
mend itself to Kotsuki-no-Suke, and he declined their polite invitation 
to disembowel himself, whereupon Kuranosuki at one stroke cut off 
the craven head, with the blade used by his master in taking his own 

So in solemn procession the Forty-seven Ronin, bearing their 
enemy's head, approached the Temple of Sengakuji, where they were 
met by the abbot of the monastery, who led them to their master's 
tomb. There, after washing in water, they laid it, thus accomplish- 
ing the vendetta; then praying for decent burial and for masses, they 
took their own lives. 

Thus ended the tragic story, and visitors to the temple are still 
shown the receipt given by the retainers of the son of Kotsuki-no-Suke 
for the head of their lord's father, returned to them by the priest of 
Sengakuji. Surely it is one of the weirdest relics to take in one's hand, 
this memorandum, the simple wording of which but adds to its horror: 

Item One head. 

Item One paper parcel, and then the signatures of the two re- 
tainers beneath. 

Another manuscript is also shown, in which the Ronin addressed 
their departed lord, laying it upon his tomb. It is translated thus by 

"The fifteenth year of Genroku, the twelfth month, and fifteenth 



day. We have come this day to do homage here, forty- 
seven men in all, from Oishi Kuranosuki, down to the 
' u< foot soldier, Terasaka Kichiyemon, all cheerfully about 
to lay down our lives on your behalf. We reverently 
announce this to the honoured spirit of our dead master. On the 
fourteenth day of the third month of last year our honoured master 
was pleased to attack Kira-Kotsuki-no-Suke, for what reason we 
know not. Our honoured master put an end to his own life, but 
Kotsuki-no-Suke lived. Although we fear that after the decree is- 
sued by the Government, this plot of ours will be displeasing to our 
master, still we who have eaten of your food could not without blush- 
ing repeat the verse, 'Thou shalt not live under the same heaven nor 
tread the same earth with the enemy of thy father or lord, 1 nor could 
we have dared to leave hell and present ourselves before you in 
paradise, unless we had carried out the vengeance which you began. 
Every day that we waited seemed as three autumns to us. Verily 
we have trodden the snow for one day, nay for two days, and have 
tasted food but once. The old and decrepit, the sick and ailing, 
have come forth gladly to lay down their lives. Having taken 
counsel together last night, we have escorted my lord, Kotsuki-no- 
Suke, hither to your tomb. This dirk by which our honoured lord 
set great store last year, and entrusted to our care, we now bring 
back. If your noble spirit be now present before this tomb, we pray 
you as a sign to take the dirk, and striking the head of your enemy 
with it a second time to dispel your hatred forever. This is the 
respectful statement of forty-seven men." 

There were forty-seven Ronin. Why, then, do forty-eight 



tomb-stones stand beneath the cedars at Sengakuji? 

Truly the answer has caused tears to fall from the 

eyes of many a visiting pilgrim, for the forty -eighth 

tomb holds the body of the Satsuma man, who in 

an agony of grief and remorse ended his life, and was buried beside 

the hero, whose body he had scornfully trampled upon in the streets 

of sacred Kyoto. 

This history of the Forty-seven Ronin is an epitome of Japanese 
ethics, for in it is exemplified their feudal devotion, their severe code 
of honour, their distorted vision of duty and fealty to a superior, 
justifying the most lawless acts. Thus the conduct of Kuranosuki 
during his wild year of reckless abandonment, in which he threw off 
all moral restraint in order to deceive his enemy, breaking the heart 
of his faithful and devoted wife, was considered by his countrymen 
meritorious and a proof of his devotion. The Ukiyo-ye artists, 
who loved to take for models the beautiful denizens of the "Under 
World," chose this obsession of Kuranosuki as the subject for many 
of their illustrations, so that at a first glance the series might almost 
be mistaken for scenes from the life of the Yoshiwara. 

Here and there, however, we come across the Ronin engaged 
in terrific conflict with Kotsuki-no-Suke's retainers. Cruel and blood- 
thirsty are the blades of their relentless katanas, which once un- 
sheathed must be slaked in human blood, and their garments, slashed 
into stiletto-like points of inky blackness, forming a cheveaux de frise 
round their fierce faces, seem scintillant with the spirit of vendetta. 

In examining the sets of impressions, illustrating the popular 
story, it is hard to give preference to any special artist: to choose 



between the Utamaro-like violets and greens of 
Yeisen; the rich dark tints and fine backgrounds of 
Kimisada; the delicately massed detail of Toyokuni, 
unlike the usual boldness of his style, and the varied 
sword-play of the versatile Hiroshige, set in a frosted, snowy 
landscape. Hokusai, who abjured theatrical subjects after break- 
ing away from the tutelage of Shunsho, published a series of prints 
illustrating the famous vendetta, but as his great-grandfather had 
been a retainer of Kotsuki-no-Suke, losing his life during the 
midnight attack, the story formed part of his ancestral history. 
The series is signed Kako, and the sweeping lines and contours 
of the female figures show the Kiyonaga influence. Yellow prepon- 
derates, outlining the buildings and long interior vistas, and the 
impressions are framed with a singular convention of Hokusai at 
that period, drifting cloud effects in delicate pink. Utamaro also 
illustrated the story, substituting for the Ronin the forms of women, 
a favourite conceit of the artist of beauty. 

This digression in favour of the masters of the Popular School 
has carried us over a hundred years, and we must return to the close 
of the seventeenth century. Moronobu illustrated the carnival of 
Genroku, but toward the end of the century, under the domination 
of a Shogun who combined the qualities of extravagance and prof- 
ligacy with the delirious superstition of a Louis the Eleventh, a 
period of unbridled license set in. The military men, who were 
the nation's models, forgot their fine traditions and fell from their 
estate, so that the latter manners and customs of Genroku became a 
by-word. Then followed a puritanical reaction. Under the 



_ ________ 

eighth Shogun, the knights were restricted from attend- 
ing the theatre, just coming into favour, and the looser 
haunts of pleasure were strictly under ban. The 
Ukiyo-ye print, being the medium for illustrating these 
joys and pleasures, forbidden to the great, but still indulged in by 
the people, was strictly condemned, and to this day the aristocracy 
of Japan accord but grudging and unwilling recognition to the merits 
of the masters of Ukiyo-ye, the old caste prejudice still blinding their 
artistic sense. 

At this stage Ukiyo-ye broke into rival schools, the founders of 
both belonging to the academy of Hishigawa Moronobu. The leader 
of the first, the school of painting, was Miyagawa Choshun, who in 
order to preserve aristocratic patronage and praise, eschewed the use 
of the printing-block, still taking his subjects from the "floating world," 
and so being in one sense at unity with the other branch, that of print- 
ing founded by Kiyonobu, the first master of the great Torii School. 
As the Print artists are our subject matter we cannot follow the other 
branch of Ukiyo-ye, founded by Miyagawa Choshun, but leaving the 
atelier of the painters, we must devote ourselves to the fortunes of the 
Torii School, the laboratory of the Ukiyo-ye print, working parallel 
with the pictorial school for the first half of the eighteenth century. 

The first sheets of Kiyonobu (about 1 710), the founder of the 
Torii School, were printed in ink from a single block. Part of the 
edition would be issued in this uncoloured form, the rest being 
coloured by hand. The colours most used were olive and orange, 
these prints being called Tan-ye, whilst those in ink were named 
Sumi-ye. Urishi-ye (lacquer pictures), was the generic term for 



hand-painted prints. Beni~ye (literally red pictures), 

followed the Urishi-ye. They were printed in two tones, 

rose and pale green, enforced by black, a harmony 

exquisite in delicacy. The use of the multiple colour 

blocks gave rise to the title 7Vis/ni-l?e, or brocade paintings. The 

national mania for the stage induced Kiyonobu and his followers to 

take for their subjects popular actors, and the theatrical poster may 

be said to date from the decade following Genroku. 

Later in the century the process of colour-printing by the substi- 
tution of blocks for flat colours was gradually evolved, and to no 
special artist or engraver can the credit be given, for all contributed 
to its development, though the genius of Suzuki Harunobu drew 
to a focus in 1 765 the achievements of his brother artists, and it 
was he who solved the problem of uniting the skill of the engraver 
with the full palette of Miyagawa Choshun and his follower Shunsui, 
thus uniting the two branches of Ukiyo-ye art. 

The Popular School, however, is bound up with print develop- 
ment. Japanese book illustration and- single-sheet printing revo- 
lutionized the world's art. The great connoisseurs of colour tell 
us that nowhere else is anything like it, so rich and so full, that a print 
comes to have every quality of a complete painting. 

The other leaders of the Torii School were Torii Kiyomasu 
and Okumura Masanobu, namesake of the great founder of Kano, 
who must not be confounded with the later artist of the same name, 
belonging to the school of Kitao. Masanobu deserves special mention, 
for his style being chiefly pictorial, and his subjects not confined to 
the stage, he formed a link between the painter's atelier and his own. 



He realized that book prints rather than actor prints 
ought to be the most potent force of Ukiyo-ye. 

Shigenaga followed in the footsteps of Masanobu, 
but his fame is eclipsed by that of his great pupil 
Harunobu, whose genius was displayed not only by the introduction 
of new colours upon the printing-block, but by his schemes of ar- 
rangement, juxtaposition of shades, and marvellous handling of the 
areas between the printed outlines. This restriction of measured 
spaces does not cramp the painter's individuality and sweep of brush; 
rather, they set him free to concentrate his genius upon blended har- 
monies, and interwoven schemes of colour, and to surrender himself 
to the intoxication of the palette. 

Suzuki Harunobu revolutionized the status of the Popular 
School, pronouncing this dictum, "Though I am a worker in prints 
I shall hereafter style myself 'YamatoYeishi, 111 the title assumed by 
the ancient court painters. A national painter he declared himself, 
let him deny who dare, working through the new medium of the 
despised and ostracized Ukiyo-ye print from which he determined 
to remove the stigma of vulgarity. 

Now we see a strange transposition in the aims of the popular 
artists. Harunobu, though a pupil of Shigenaga, the printer, took 
for his models the subjects of the painter Shunsui, successor to 
Miyagawa Choshun, and by rejecting stage motives discarded the 
Torii tradition. From Shunsui, Harunobu borrowed the ineffable 
grace and refinement which breathe from the forms of his women, 
from the painter he stole colour harmonies and designs with land- 
scape backgrounds, which the Torii School had hitherto ignored. 



The introduction of genre painting, though attributed 
by Walter Pater to Giorgione, applies equally to the 
' u< work of Harunobu and his follower Koriusai. "He 
is the inventor of genre, of those easily movable pictures 
which serve neither for uses of devotion nor of allegorical or historical 
teaching: little groups of real men and women, amid congruous 
furniture or landscape, morsels of actual life, conversation or music 
or play, refined upon and idealized till they come to seem like glimpses 
of life from afar. People may move those spaces of cunningly blent 
colour readily and take them with them where they go, like a poem 
in manuscript, or a musical instrument, to be used at will as a means 
of self-education, stimulus or solace, coming like an animated pres- 
ence into one's cabinet, and like persons live with as for a day or a 
lifetime." Must not such an influence have descended upon 
Whistler when, saturated with the atmosphere of Hiroshige, he 
imagined that most beautiful of his "Nocturnes" described by 
Theodore Child as "a vision in form and colour, in luminous air, a 
Japanese fancy realized on the banks of the gray Thames"? 



The School of Torii. 

The Printers' Branch of Ukiyo-ye. 

Torii School was pre-eminently the exponent of the 
drama. It was bound up with stage development and 
stered to the emotional temperament of the nation; 
leading in what may be considered a national obsession, 
a mania for actors and actor-prints. 

A fascinating subject is this century of dramatic evolution fostered 
by the printers' branch of the Popular School. The actor had 
been consigned, in dark feudal days, to the lowest rung in the ladder 
of caste, ranking next to the outcast (Eta), as in early English days 
the strolling player was associated with tinkers and the other vagrant 

The No Kagura and lyric drama, suggesting the mediaeval 
and passion plays of Europe, prefigured the modern drama in 
Japan, but the immediate precursor of the present theatre was the 
Puppet Show, a Japanese apotheosis of our Marionette performances. 
It is interesting to note that Toyokuni, who M. Louis Gonse declared 
has carried further than any one the power of mimetic art, and with 
whose theatrical scenes we are most familiar, began his career as 
a maker of dolls, and these puppets were eagerly sought for as 
works of art. 

If the aphorism "not to go to the theatre is like making one's 
toilet without a mirror," be true, then the Japanese are justified in 
their national stage passion, which overshadows the love of any 
other amusement. Taking the phrase literally, it was to the persons 



of the actors, and the printers who spread their pictures 

The broadcast, that the people owed the aesthetic wonders 

Torii. ^ ^eir costume. The designers were also artists, as 

instanced by Hishigawa Moronobu, the Kyoto designer 

and Yedo embroiderer, the printer and painter, illustrator of books 

and originator of Ukiyo-ye. 

Enthusiasm for the portraits of actors, fostered by the Torii 
printers from the foundation of the school by Kiyonobu, about 1710, 
hastened no doubt the development of colour-printing. As early 
as Genroku, the portrait of Danjuro, the second of the great dynasty 
of actors, who by their genius helped to brighten the fortunes of the 
playhouse, was sold for five cash, in the streets of the capital. 

The combined genius of the artists, engravers and printers of 
Ukiyo-ye evolved and perfected the use of the multiple colour-block. 
Toward the middle of the century, under the waning powers of Torii 
Kiyomitsu, successor to Kiyonobu, the school seemed sinking into 
oblivion, for Harunobu, its rightful exponent, filled with visions of 
ethereal refinement, scorned the theatrical arena. When most needed, 
however, a prophet arose in the person of Shunsho, the painter, the 
pupil of Shunsui and master of Hokusai, thus completing the trans- 
formation begun by Harunobu. The great scions of the rival 
branches of Ukiyo-ye, printing and painting, stepped into each other's 
places and bridged the chasm, which threatened the unity of the 
Popular School. 

Both branches were united, however, in the use of the multiple 
colour-blocks, but although Shunsho followed Harunobu's experi- 
ments in colouring, varying his actor designs with domestic scenes and 



book illustrations, Harunobu resolutely refused to 
portray the life of the stage, and in this determination The 
he was followed by his pupil and successor, Koriusai. Torii. 

About the year 1 765, the art of printing colours, 
by the use of individual blocks, technically called chromo-xylography, 
was perfected. It is an interesting reflection, from the standpoint 
of Buddhism, which teaches that in the fullness of time, the great 
masters in religion, art and learning become reincarnated upon earth, 
for the benefit of humanity, that at this period Hokusai was born, 
the crowning glory and master of Ukiyo-ye. Had he appeared 
earlier in the century, his genius might have been diverted to the 
technical development of printing, and the world thus been the loser 
of his creative flights. 

Professor Fenollosa beautifully defines the inception of the 
Ukiyo-ye print as H the meeting of two wonderfully sympathetic 
surfaces, the un-sandpapered grain of the cherry-wood block, and 
a mesh in the paper, of little pulsating vegetable tentacles. Upon 
the one, colour can be laid almost dry, and to the other it may be 
transferred by a delicacy of personal touch that leaves only a trace 
of tint balancing lightly upon the tips of the fibres. And from the 
interstices of these printed tips, the whole luminous heart of the 
paper wells up from within, diluting the pigment with a soft golden 
sunshine. In the Japanese print we have flatness combined with 
vibration.' 1 

To the connoisseur, one of the most important considerations, 
scarcely secondary to that of colouring, in the selection of Ukiyo-ye 
gems, is this vibratory quality, depending equally upon the texture 



of the paper and the magnetic pressure of the master 
The printers fingers. This characteristic seems to have 
Torii. vanished from the modern print, and cannot be imitated, 
though the enthusiasm for fine specimens has flooded 
the market with spurious antiques, deceptive to the uninitiated. In 
the exquisite reproductions of the early Ukiyo-ye prints and paint- 
ings now being issued, though a joy to the student unable to ac- 
quaint himself with the originals, this ineffable effect of vibration 
is lost, probably owing to the substitution of a less sympathetic medium 
than the luminous vehicle of the early impressions. 

The actual process of wood-cutting seems a simple art, but a 
close study of the making of prints will show the consummate skill 
required to produce them. The artist's design was transferred by 
tracing paper, then pasted on to the face of the wood block, and 
the white space hollowed out with a knife and small gouges. After 
the block had been inked, a sheet of damp paper was laid upon it, 
and the back of the paper was then rubbed with a flat rubber till 
the impression was uniformly transferred. Where more than one 
block was employed, as in colour-printing, the subsequent impressions 
were registered by marks made at the corners of the paper. The 
colouring matter laid upon these early blocks was extracted by mys- 
terious processes from sources unknown to the Western world, which, 
alas! by supplying the Eastern market with cheap pigments, led to 
the deterioration of art in this essential particular. 

From 1 765 to 1 780 the school of Ukiyo-ye was dominated by 
four great artists and creators of separate styles: Harunobu, suc- 
ceeded by Koriusai, taking for motive the subjects of Shunsui; 



Shunsho of Katsukawa (changed by Shunsui from its 

former title of Miyagawa), upon whose shoulders had The 

fallen the mantle of the Torii; Shigemasa, working 

upon Shunsho's lines, but breaking into a rival academy, 
the Kitao; Toyoharu, pupil of old Torii Toyonobu, founder of the 
school of Utagawa, whose most illustrious pupil was Toyokuni, the 
doll-maker, and brother of Toyohiro, Hiroshige*s master. (Kuni- 
sada, noted for his backgrounds, succeeded Toyokuni, and after the 
death of his master signed himself Toyokuni the Second.) - 

Shunsho is considered one of the greatest artists of Japan, both 
as an inventor and powerful colourist. M. Louis Gonse says: 
"All the collections of coloured prints which are today the delight 
of the tea-houses; all the fine compositions showing magnificent land- 
scapes and sumptuous interiors; all those figures of actors with heroic 
gestures and impassive faces behind the grinning masks, and with 
costumes striking and superb, came originally from the atelier of 
Katsukawa Shunsho, who had for a time the monopoly of them." 
While the Torii artists were beguiling the Yedo populace with the- 
atrical portraiture, and aiding the growing tendency toward cos- 
mopolitanism by issuing printed albums, books of travel and encyclo- 
pedias, art was also expanding at the ancient capital, Kyoto. 
Sukenobu, the prolific artist, was bringing out beautifully illustrated 
books, and Okio, from sketching on the earth with bamboo sticks, 
while following his father and mother to their work in the fields, 
had risen to be the great founder of the Maruyama school of paint- 
ing, and the Shijo or naturalistic school was named from the street 
in which was the studio of the master. 



The Popular School, aided by Okio, effected a 
The revolution in the laws of painting at Kyoto, for the 
C Torii. artists forsook their academic methods, painting birds, 
flowers, grass, quadrupeds, insects and fishes from 
nature. Okio's name ranks high among the great masters of Japan- 
ese art, of whom so many fanciful legends are told. The charming 
artist with brush and pen, John La Farge, says: "As the fruit 
painted by the Greek deceived the birds, and the curtain painted 
by the Greek painter deceived his fellow-artist, so the horses of 
Kanaoka have escaped from their kakemonos, and the tigers sculp- 
tured in the lattices of temples have been known to descend at night 
and rend one another in the courtyards." 

Then the story is told of a moonlight picture, which, when un- 
rolled, filled a dark room with light. A pretty legend of Tanyu, 
the great Kano artist, and the crabs at Enryaku Temple, is given by 
Adachi Kinnotsuke. Upon one panel of the /usuma, or paper 
screen, is seen a crab, marvellously realistic, only with claws in- 
visible. On the other panels the artist had painted its companions, 
and at the bidding of his patron furnished them with claws. "Never- 
theless," the master declared, "I warn you that if I give these crabs 
claws they will surely crawl out of the picture." As the visitor 
glances from the wonderful counterfeit crab to the four empty panels 
beside it, he knows the old master had only spoken the truth. 

And so with Okio. He breathed into his pictures the breath 
of life. His animals live, and his flights of storks swoop across the 
great kakemonos, each bird with an individuality of its own, though 
one of a multitude of flying companions. To view Okio aright, 


Under the Cherry 


By Kiyonaga, the 
regenerator of Torii, 
whose classic figures 
recall, in their dignity 
and simplicity, the 
methods of the early 
Italian masters. 




we should see him at home in his own environment, not 

in Europe, where so many copies of his masterpieces The 

abound. John La Farge gives us a glimpse of an 

[ om. 

Okio, fitly set, framed in oriental magnificence, in the 
Temple of lyemitsu at Nikko: "All within was quiet, in a golden 
splendour. Through the small openings of the black and gold grat- 
ings a faint light from below left all the golden interior in a summer 
shade, within which glittered on golden tables the golden utensils of 
the Buddhist ceremonial. The narrow passage makes the center, 
through whose returning walls project, in a curious refinement of 
invention, the golden eaves of the inner building beyond. Gratings, 
which were carved, and gilded trellises of exquisite design, gave a 
cool, uncertain light. An exquisite feeling of gentle solemnity filled 
the place. In the corridor facing the mountain and the tomb, a 
picture hangs on the wall. It is by Okio. Kuwannon, the Com- 
passionate, sits in contemplation beside the descending stream of 

About 1 775 arose a legitimate successor to the school of Torii in 
the adopted son of Kiyomitsu, Kiyonaga. He discarded the theatrical 
tradition of his school, but the boldness of his drawing was foreign to 
the style of Harunobu. "His brush had a superhuman power and 
swing." He rivalled the three great masters, Koriusai, Shigemasa, 
founder of Kitao, and Toyoharu of Utagawa, and the masters of 
Ukiyo-ye, forsaking their individual predilections, flocked to his 

The simplicity and dignity of the early Italian masters, sought 
after and adored by the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, their noble lines 



and contours, are again realized in the panels of 

The Kiyonaga. Professor Fenollosa said that "classic" 

C Torii 1S l ^ e instinctive term to apply to Kiyonaga, and that 

his figures at their best may be placed side by side with 
Greek vase painting. Ideally beautiful is the fall of his drapery, 
determining the lines of the figure in the fewest possible folds. In 
indoor scenes he almost rivalled Harunobu, but he loved best to paint 
in the open air. In imagination we see Kiyonaga, the lover of beauty, 
gazing at the wealth of lotus blooms which fill the moats of feudal 
Yedo, and in the crucible of his fancy transmuting them into the 
forms of women. The lotus, of all flowers, has the deepest art 
significance, and is the oldest motive. The author of "Greek Lines," 
Henry Van Brunt, said: "The lotus perpetually occurs in oriental 
mythology as the sublime and hallowed symbol of the productive 
power of nature. The Hindu and the Egyptian instinctively ele- 
vated it to the highest and most cherished place in their Pantheons." 

It is the flower of religion, of beauty, and of love. From the 
ocean the Hindu Aphrodite, Lachsmi, ascended. Isis in Egypt 
reigned, crowned by the lotus, and there the tender, flowing lines be- 
came sublime, monumental, fitted to symbolize death and eternal re- 
pose. In Japan its joyous curves represent life, immortality, and, 
delicately sensuous, they conjure up visions of ideal beauty. The 
lotus, sweetly blooming before the artist's eye, expanded into a vision 
of fair women, whose lissom forms he clothed with swirls of drapery. 
And the women of Japan, enamoured of these enchanting poses, 
endeavoured to assume the curves of Kiyonaga, sheathing their deli- 
cate limbs in silken draperies, and simulating in their enchanting slen- 



derness the stems of flowers or, to borrow a beautiful 

simile from Lafcadio Hearn, "looking like a beautiful ^ The 

silver moth robed in the folding of its own wings." rorii 

It is said that every Japanese actor-print was 
a potential poster, and, alas! the fashion-plate is endeavouring to 
mold itself upon the most exaggerated type of the degenerate offspring 
of the genius of the Torii School. 

The Japanese woman, with her untrammelled form arrayed in 
draperies designed by consummate artists, may dare to follow classic 
Kiyonaga youth and grace may acquire oriental plasticity. But 
let fashion rest there. Pitiful and ludicrously futile is the effort of 
embonpoint to attain sinuosity. Lines of beauty cannot be manu- 
factured; as well imagine the slender stem of the lotus encircled in 
steel, its curves determined by a multiplicity of wires and tapes. 

Although the leaders of Ukiyo-ye followed so closely in the 
footsteps of Kiyonaga that his type of face stamps the years from 
1 780 to 1 790, yet his style was too classic, too noble to suit the 
taste of the Yedo populace, which, in its thirst for realism, had 
become depraved. Rather than lower his standard he chose to 
resign, leaving the field to his followers, Yeishi, Utamaro and 
Toyokuni. These masters, at first as dignified in their method as 
Kiyonaga, now yielded to the public craze for the exaggerated, the 
abnormal and grotesque. It was an apotheosis of ugliness and vul- 
garity, a "Zolaism in prints." 

Coarse pictures of actors, masquerading in female dress, replaced 
the charming little domestic women of Harunobu and Koriusai, 
the ladies of Japan, as we see them in reality, and the noble 



figures of Kiyonaga. Gigantic courtesans, bizarre and 
The fantastic, with delirious headgear, took the place of 
Torii. Shunsho's fair children of the "Underworld," who, 

in the modesty of their mien, seemed to belie the calling 
they so often deplored, as the songs of the Yoshiwara testify, 
plaintively sung to the syncopated rhythm of the samisen, tinkling 
through the summer nights. 

The school of Ukiyo-ye was sinking into obscurity, when 
Hiroshige and Hokusai appeared, two children of light, dispersing 
the gloom: Hiroshige, the versatile painter, lover of landscape and 
ethereal artist of snow and mist; Hokusai, the prophet, and re- 
generator of Ukiyo-ye. He was the artisan-artist, in the land which 
recognizes no inferior arts, and the Mang-wa, consisting of studies 
as spontaneously thrown off as those in the sketch-book Giorgione 
carried in his girdle, was published for the use of workmen. Living 
in simplicity and poverty he gave his life to the people, and the im- 
pression of his genius is stamped upon their work. A true handi- 
craftsman was Hokusai, the Mang-wa a dictionary of the arts 
and crafts, as well as the inspired vehicle of art. In it "balance, 
rhythm and harmony, the modes in which Beauty is revealed, both in 
nature and art," were manifested, for he was a vital artist, laying 
bare the enigma of evolution, and the mystery of creation. 


The Actor Kikugoro. 
By Toyokuni I, 

the great 

Actor-Designer and 

Master of Mimetic 





Le Fondateur de L'Ecole de la Vie. 

HE above title is quoted from the work of M. Edmond 
de Goncourt, "as one having authority," there being 
many claimants to the leadership of Ukiyo-ye (the 
floating world), the Popular School of Japanese Art. 
In the life of Utamaro, M. de Goncourt, in exquisite language and 
with analytical skill, has interpreted for us the meaning of that form 
of Japanese art which found its chief expression in the use of the 
wooden block for colour-printing, and to glance appreciatively at the 
work of both artist and author is the motive of this sketch. 

The Ukiyo-ye print, despised by the haughty Japanese aris- 
tocracy, became the vehicle of art for the common people of Japan, 
and the names of the artists who aided in its development are fa- 
miliarly quoted in every studio, whilst the classic painters of "Tosa n 
and "Kano" are comparatively rarely mentioned. The consensus 
of opinion in Japan during the lifetime of Utamaro agrees with the 
verdict of M. de Goncourt. No artist was more popular. His 
atelier was besieged by editors giving orders, and in the country his 
works were eagerly sought after, when those of his famous con- 
temporary, Toyokuni, were but little known. In the "Barque of 
Utamaro," a famous surimono, the title of which forms a pretty play 
upon words, maro being the Japanese for vessel, the seal of supremacy 
is set upon the artist. Here he is represented as holding court in a 
gaily decorated barge, surrounded by a bevy of beauty paying 
homage to his genius. He was essentially the painter of women, 



and though M. <le Goncourt sets forth his astonishing 
versatility, he yet entitles his work, "Outamaro, le 
Peintre des Maisons Vertes." 

The beautiful inhabitants of these celebrated 
houses of the Yoshiwara (the flower quarter) of Yedo had ever 
been sought as models by the artists of Ukiyo-ye. But, alas! the 
sensuous poetic-artistic temperament of Utamaro, undisciplined and 
uncontrolled, led to his undoing. The pleasure-loving artist, recog- 
nizing no creed but the worship of beauty, refusing to be bound by 
any fetters but those of fancy, fell at last into the lowest depths 
of degradation, physical and moral. And this debasement of their 
leader, tainting his art, was reflected in the work of his brother 
artists and hastened the decadence of the Popular School. 

To understand the influences which sapped the self-control of 
the gay and beauty-loving Utamaro, we have only to glance at the 
text by Jipensha Ikkou of "The Annuary of the Green Houses," 
two volumes of prints in colour, so marvellously beautiful that they 
caused the artist to be recognized as, in a sense, the official painter 
of the Yoshiwara. The writer thus sums up the fatal fascination 
of the inmates, the courtesans of highest rank, who alone were de- 
picted by Utamaro. "The daughters of the Yoshiwara are brought 
up like princesses. From infancy they are given the most finished 
education" (from the Japanese standpoint, be it observed). "They 
are taught reading, writing, art, music, le the, le par/um" (in the game 
of scents, the art is to guess by inhaling the odour of burning perfumes 
the secret of their composition). "Their entourage is that of prin- 
cesses, brought up in the seclusion of the palace. Coming from 



all parts of the 'Land of the Rising Sun, ? they must 
discard their individual patois and learn to speak the 
archaic tongue, slightly modified, the poetical, the noble 
language of the court from the seventeenth to the nine- 
teenth century." 

In the home of the celebrated Tsutaya Juzabro, who edited the 
most beautiful books of the time, in his early impressionable youth 
lived Utamaro, within a stone's throw of the great gate leading to 
the Yoshiwara. By day he devoted himself to his art, by night he 
surrendered himself to the fatal enchantment of that brilliant "Under- 
world," until, like Merlin, ensnared by Vivian, with the charm of 
"woven paces and waving hands," his art sapped by excesses, he 
became "lost to life, and use, and name, and fame." 

Let us, forgetting this sad sequel, glance at the works which 
testify to the life of high artistic endeavour led by Utamaro in the 
early part of his career. In the preface to the "Yehon Moushi 
Yerabi" (Chosen Insects), the master of Utamaro, Toriyama Seki- 
yen, throws so charming a sidelight upon the youth of the artist, 
that the temptation to quote is irresistible. The value of these Japan- 
ese prefaces to the world, to workers in every field, is incalculable. 
At the outset of his work, M. de Goncourt alludes to the well-known 
preface of Hokusai in the "Fugaku Hiak'kei," and ddubtless fortified 
himself by the stimulating example of the old master, when undertak- 
ing at the age of seventy the great task of presenting to the Western 
world, under the title of "L'Art Japonais," a history of five noted 
painters, besides that of other artists in bronze and lacquer, pottery 
and iron artists in a land where the terms artist and artisan are in- 



terchangeable, the only country where art industrial 
almost always touches grand art. 

The translator of the preface of Sekiyen is grate- 
fully referred to by M. de Goncourt as "1'intelligent, 
le savant, 1'aimable M. Hyashi." It may be considered a revolution- 
ary manifesto of the Profane School, the school of real life, in oppo- 
sition to the hierarchical Buddhist academies of Kano and Tosa, 
which had become stultified by tradition and stifled by conventional 

"Preface ecrite par Toriyama Sekiyen, le maitre d'Outamaro, 
celebrant le naturisme (sortit du cceur) de son petit, de son cher eleve 
Outa." "Reproduire la vie par le coeur, et en dessiner la structure 
au pinceau, est la loi de la peinture. L' etude que vient de publier 
maintenant, mon eleve Outamaro, reproduit la vie meme du monde 
des insectes. C'est la vraie peinture du cceur. Et quand je me 
souviens d'autrefois, je me rappelle que des 1'enfance, le petit Outa, 
observait le plus infinie detail des choses. Ainsi a 1'automne, quand 
il etait dans le jardin, il se mettait en chasse des insectes, et que ce 
soil un criquet ou une sauterelle, avait-il fait une prise, il gardait le 
bestiole dans sa main et s'amusait a 1'etudier. Et combien de fois 
je Fai gronde dans 1'apprehension qu'il ne prenne 1'habitude, de 
donner la mort a des etres vivants. Maintenant qu'il a acquis son 
grand talent du pinceau, il fait de ces etudes d' insectes, la gloire de 
sa profession." 

The enthusiastic master of le petit Outa proceeds to rhapsodize 
upon his pupil's genius and intimate knowledge of the structure of 
insects. "He makes us hear," he says, "the shrilling of the taman- 


oushi," the cicada of Japan,/ whose endless peevish 
twanging upon one string forms an underlying accom- 
paniment to the harmonies of long summer days. "He 
borrows the light weapons of the grasshopper for making 
war ; he exhibits the dexterity of the earthworm, boring the soil 'under 
the foundations of old buildings; he penetrates the mysteries of nature 
in the groping of the larvae, in the lighting of his path by the glow- 
worm, and he ends by disentangling the end of the thread of the 
spider's web," 

The colour-printing of these insects is a miracle of art, says M. 
de Goncourt, and there is nothing comparable to it in Europe. Of 
the methods by which these colour prints are brought to such a 
height of perfection, it is almost impossible to speak authoritatively. 
They are the result of a threefold combination: of a paper marvel- 
lously prepared from the bark of the shrub, Kozo, diluted with the 
milk of rice flour and a gummy decoction extracted from the roots 
of the hydrangea and hibiscus; of dyes, into the secret of whose 
alchemy no modern artist can penetrate, it being safe to say the early 
n Tan-ye n and "Beni-ye" prints can never be reproduced; of the 
application of those colours by the master engraver's fingers that 
wizard hand of the Orient into whose finger-tips are distilled the 
mysteries of bygone centuries. A portion of the colour by means of 
this calculated pressure is drunk, 1 absorbed into the paper, and only 
the transparency is left vibrating upon the fibres, like colour beneath 
the glaze. 

The "Catalogue Raisonne" of M. de Goncourt is a prose master- 
piece. His descriptive touches, like pastels set in jewels, captivate 



the imagination. Through him we see the albums, the 

fans, the kakemonos, the surimonos. Oh, the prints, 

with their wondrous backgrounds, the delight of Uta- 

maro! Sometimes straw-yellow, the uniformity broken 

with clouds ot ground mica; sometimes gray in tint, like the traces 

of receding waves upon the beach. Some silvered backgrounds 

throw moonlight reflections upon the figures ; some are sombre, bizarre 

all are marvellous beyond words. And the colours! we cannot 

define them in English. The "bleus" (malades des mauves), the 

"rose" (beni) "si peu de rose, qu'ils semblent s'apercevoir a travers 

un tulle; 1'azur delave, et comme noye dans 1'eau," not colours, 

but nuances, which recall the colours. And the "Gauffrage," so 

effective with the print artists, with us a mere confectioner's touch ! 

It is said that "the aesthetic temperament of a nation is most 
subtly felt in the use of colour. Purity, coldness, sensuality, bright- 
ness, dullness of tints, are significant terms correlated to mental and 
physical human phenomena." The assertion of Ruskin, that "the 
bodily system is in a healthy state when we can see hues clearly in 
their most delicate tints, and enjoy them, fully and simply, with the 
kind of enjoyment children have in eating sweet things," is brought 
to mind in viewing the Japanese people upon the occasion of one of 
their great flower fetes, feasting their eyes upon cherry blooms or 
trailing clusters of the wistaria. 

Utamaro planned schemes of colour and devised harmonies 
themes which, improvised upon and endlessly imitated by his artist 
confreres, filled his own countrymen with delight and ravished the 
hearts of Parisian painters. The influence of Utamaro, Hiroshige 


While Mother Sleeps. 
By Utamaro, 

named by 

M. de Goncourt: 

"Le Fondateur de 




and the other masters of Ukiyo-ye revolutionized the 

colour-sense of the art world, so that Theodore Child, 

writing in 1892, remarks of the Japanese influence: 

"The Paris Salon of today as compared with the salon 

of ten years ago is like a May morning compared with a dark 

November day." 

The same keen observation and technical skill which would 
have made Utamaro a famous naturalist is shown in his marvellous 
studies of women. He was the first Japanese artist who deviated 
from the traditional manner of treating the face. The academic 
style demanded the nose to be suggested by one calligraphic, aquiline 
stroke, the eyes to be mere slits, the mouth the curled up petal of a 
flower. Utamaro blent with this convention, so little human, a 
mutinous grace, a spiritual comprehension; he kept the consecrated 
lines, but made them approach the human. These "effigies of 
women" became individuals ; in one word, he is an idealist, he "makes 
a goddess out of a courtesan." No detail of her anatomy escapes his 
eye, no grace of line or beauty of contour. M. de Goncourt, in 
detailing the great prints of Utamaro, transports us to the Orient. 
He unrolls the film of memory, so that again the Japanese woman 
stands, reclines, and lives before us. 

"Vous avez la Japonaise en tous les mouvements intimes de son 
corps; vous 1'avez, dans ses appuiements de tete, sur le dos de sa 
main, quand elle reflechit, dans ses agenouillements, les paumes de 
ses mains appuyes sur les cuisses, quand elle ecoute, dans sa parole, 
jetee de cote, la tete un peu tournee, et qui la montre dans les aspects si 
joliment fuyants d'un profil perdu; vous 1'avez dans sa contemplation 



amoureuse des fleurs qu'elle regarde aplatie a terre; 

vous 1'avez dans ses renversements ou lagerement elle 

pose, a demi assise, sur la balustrade d'un balcon; vous 

1'avez dans ses lectures, ou elle lit dans le volume, tout 

pres de ses yeux, les deux coudes appuyes sur ses genoux; vous 1'avez 

dans sa toilette qu'elle fait avec une main tenant devant elle, son petit 

miroir de metal, tandis que de 1'autre main passee derriere elle, elle se 

caresse distraitement la nuque de son ecran; vous 1'avez dans le con- 

tournement de sa main autour d'une coupe de sake, dans Tattouchement 

delicat et recroqueville de ses doigts de singe, autour des laques, des 

porcelaines, des petits objets artistiques de son pays; vous 1'avez 

enfin la femme de l'Empire-du-Lever-du-Soleil, en sa grace languide, 

et son coquet rampement sur les nattes du parquet." 

To translate is to travesty, for the French language seems to be 
the only medium through which can be filtered the nuances of 
Japanese thought, which elude the ordinary elements of language, 
like the perfume of flowers, the bouquet of delicate vintages. Our 
blunt Anglo-Saxon mars that picture language, where one flexible, 
curved calligraphic stroke conveys to the aesthetically receptive 
oriental imagination what stanzas of rhyming rhapsody fail to 
define. Sir Edwin Arnold and Lafcadio Hearn approach the 
French, are, so to speak, orientalized. Ordinary English fails to give 
a Japanese equivalent. It is too emphatic, too objective; it suggests 
the dominant British hobnail upon the delicate Tea-house tatami 
that immaculate, beautiful matting, into whose uniform lines embroid- 
ered draperies dissolve deliciously. Oh, those dreams of dresses! 
the warp and woof of the visions of the masters of Ukiyo-ye, 



o-f Harunobu and Kiyonaga, Toyokuni and Kuni- 
sada, and all the rest, the idols of Parisian colourists! 
"For us," says M. de Goncourt, "Utamaro painted 
violet dresses, where, upon the border, degradation rosee" 
(fading into Beni, that mystic tint, the spirit of ashes of rose), 
"birds are swooping, violet dresses, across which woven in 
light, zigzag insect characters, composing the Japanese alpha- 
bet, violet dresses, where Corean lions, grim and ferocious, 
crouch, gleaming in shading of old bronze within the purple folds! 
Dresses of mauve, smoky, shading into bistre, where the purple iris 
unsheathes its head from the slender gray-green stalk ! " Mourasiki-ya 
(maison mauve) was the name of the atelier of Utamaro. "Robes 
of that milky blue the Chinese call 'blue of the sky after the rain, 1 be- 
neath clusters of pale rose peonies; dresses of silvery gray, fretted 
with sprays of flowering shrubs, making a misty moonshine; pea- 
green dresses, enamelled with rosy cherry blooms; green dresses, 
fading into watery tints, hidden by groups of the pawlonia, the coat 
of arms of the reigning family; purple costumes, channelled with 
water courses, where mandarin ducks pursue each other around the 
hem. Oh, the beautiful black backgrounds, controlling the scin- 
tillating mass of colour! Black robes sown with chrysanthemums, or 
showered with pine-needles, worked in white. Black dresses, where 
finely woven baskets are mingled with sceptres of office! ! Oh! les 
belles robes!' he cries, where flights of cranes dissolve into the 
distance, where birds are fluttering, where lacy fretwork of fans and 
little garlands are interwoven! a motive delighted in by Utamaro 
as a framework for beloved faces." All that is beautiful in nature 



and art lived and breathed in these dresses, upon which 
the loving hand of the painter left a grace in every fold. 
The early inspirer of Utamaro's genius was Ki- 
yonaga, who had restored the glory of the school of 
Torii the printer's branch of Ukiyo-ye, which had sunk into 
temporary oblivion under the waning powers of Kiyomitsu. 
The atelier of Kiyonaga became the sanctuary of the artists 
of Ukiyo-ye, who, upon entering, forsook their individual tra- 
ditions. There worshipped Toyokuni of Utagawa; Yeishi, the scion 
of classic and aristocratic Kano; and at the master's feet sat the 
Young Utamaro, absorbing his methods until, in his early composi- 
tions, said M. de Goncourt, the technique and mannerisms of Ki- 
yonaga "saute aux yeux." 

The influence of Kiyonaga pervades his most beautiful work; but 
later, under a life of constant self-indulgence, amongst associations all 
tending to demoralization, his genius suffered an eclipse. His loss 
of self-control affected his art, until the sweeping lines and noble 
contours which his brush had acquired in the atelier of Kiyonaga 
were lost or widely travestied into a "delirium of female tallness." 
In these wild flights his brother artists followed in headlong pursuit, 
and the contagion of the movement swept the studios of Paris. In 
the modern poster we see the degenerate offspring of the genius of 
Utamaro, and of Toyokuni. Professor Fenollosa said, "The genera- 
tion of Aubrey Beardsley prefer these tricks to the sober grace of 
Harunobu, Kiyonaga and Koriusai." It is art born of excess, a 
"Zolaism in prints." 

The horrors of diseased imagination, the visions begotten of 



absinthe, which blot the brilliant pages of De Mau- 
passant and the verse of Paul Verlaine, were reflected 
by Utamaro in his studies of the loathsome and the 
abnormal, where Montaigne declares, "L'esprit faisant le 
cheval eschappe. enf antes des chimeres." The blasphemous impieties 
of this culte, deplored by all true Frenchmen, in the country of Hugo 
and Moliere, were distanced by Utamaro, who suborned his art, his 
cynical brush caricaturing under the distorted figures of noted cour- 
tesans the saints and sages of the sacred Buddhist legends. Trading 
upon his vast popularity, he issued a pictorial satire upon one of the 
famous Shoguns, but this act of lese-majeste brought him into dis- 
favour with the reigning Shogun, the Louis XV of Japan, an artistic 
voluptuary, like his prototype, the subject of Utamaro's cartoon, and 
the artist was condemned and cast into prison. From his cell the gay 
butterfly of the Yoshiwara emerged, spent and enfeebled, daring no 
more flights of fancy, and dying in 1 806, before he reached his fiftieth 
year, from the effects of his confinement and the misuse of pleasure. 
Oh, the pity of it! the profound pathos in the picture, in Sekiyen's 
preface of the little "Outa" holding his treasured prize, "le petit 
bestiole," the childish artist-hands of the embryo master clasping 
the insect so gently to preserve its ephemeral life, yet later plunging 
into the dissipation and excesses which shortened his own. Living 
with the declasse, however we may gloss their imperfections and 
cover with the cloak of charity their sorrowful calling, he became 
himself a cynic, an outcast, an iconoclast, learning that "hardening of 
the heart which brings 

" Irreverence for the dreamt of youth." 


Though Utamaro was one of the greatest of the 

popular artists, his demoralization led to the decadence 

of his school, which later was regenerated by the great 

master of Ukiyo-ye, Hokusai, the artist of the people. 

In Hokusai, "Dreaming the things of Heaven and of Buddha," 

breathed the pure spirit of art, that Spirit of poetry and purity 

which calls to us in Milton's immortal lines: 

11 Mortals, that would follow me, 
Love Virtue ; she alone is free. 
She can teach ye how to climb 
Higher than the sphery chime ; 
Or if Virtue feeble were, 
Heaven itself would stoop to her." 



The Romance of Hokusai. 

Master of Ukiyo-yc. 

"From the age of six, / had a mama for drawing the forms of 
things. By the time I was fifty, I had published an infinity of designs, 
but all I have produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking 
into account. At seventy-five I have learned a little about the real 
structure of nature, of animals, plants and trees, birds, fishes and 
insects. In consequence, when I am eighty, I shall have made still 
more progress. At ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at 
a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvellous stage, and when 
I am a hundred and ten, everything I do be it but a line or dot 
will be alive. I beg those who live as long as I, to see if I do not 
keep my word. Written at the age of seventy-five by me, once 
Hokusai, today Cwakio-rojin, *the old man, mad about drawing. 111 

S longa, vita brevis, n though a time-worn aphorism, 
seems the best comment upon these words of Hokusai, 
ich preface the "Fugaku Hiak'kei" (Hundred Views 
of Fuji). Judging from what he had accomplished, 
before his death in 1 849, at the age of eighty-nine, and the continual 
increase in his powers, it is easy to believe that had his life been ex- 
tended to the limit he craved, the prophecy would have been fulfilled. 
M. Louis Gonse says of Hokusai, "He is the last and most bril- 
liant figure of a progress of more than ten centuries the exuberant 
and exquisite product of a time of profound peace and incomparable 



From the standpoint of Buddhism, Hokusai was 
The the crowning glory, the supreme efflorescence of count- 
^ ess P rev i us incarnations. In his career he epitomized 

the theory of evolution, the embryonic stages being ex- 
emplified by his progress through the schools. Trained in the atelier 
of Shunsho, the most skillful exponent of Ukiyo-ye art, he rapidly 
absorbed the methods of his master; but even the Popular School 
was trammelled by convention, and Hokusai's genius, rejecting aca- 
demic fetters, winged its flight through all the realms of oriental art 

He drank at the fountain-head of China, then absorbed the 
traditions of the "two great streams of Kano and Tosa, which flowed 
without mixing to the middle of the eighteenth century." Kano, 
springing from Chinese models, was transformed by the genius of 
Masanot^u and his followers, and became the most illustrious school 
of painting in Japan. It was the official school of the Shoguns, in 
opposition to "Tosa" that elegant and exquisite appanage of the 
Mikados, which represented aristocratic taste. 

The Tosa school is characterized by extreme delicacy of execu- 
tion and fine use of the brush, as in Persian miniature painting. The 
splendour of the screens of Tosa has never been surpassed, with their 
precious harmonies in colour and delicate designs (so often imitated 
in lacquer) , against glorious backgrounds in rich gold-leaf. 

He studied the technique of Okio, founder of the school of 
realism, which, maturing at Kyoto, led up to "Ukiyo-ye," the popular 
art of the masses of Yedo. Ukiyo-ye, literally "The Floating 
World," despised by the ascetic disciples of Buddha and Confucius 
for picturing the gay world of fashion and folly, was the name of 


Two Ladies. 
By Hokusai. 


the school which liberated Japanese art from the 
shackles of centuries of tradition. The 

Ukiyo-ye is the supreme expression, the concentrated H^U^ 
essence of the schools, a river of art whose fount was 
India, Persia and China. For centuries it was forced into narrow 
channels by the haughty and exclusive aristocracy ; but ever widening, 
its branches at last united and swept into their joyous current the 
common people of Japan, who, intuitively art lovers, had ever thirsted 
for the living stream. Now they beheld themselves reflected, in all 
the naturalness of daily life, yet with a spiritual rendering, "appealing," 
said Jarves, "to those intuitions with which the soul is freighted when 
it first comes to earth, whose force is ever manifested by a longing for 
an ideal not of the earth, and whose presence can only be explained 
as an augury of a superior life to be, or else the dim reminiscence of 
one gone; and the recognition of this ideal is the touchstone of art 
art which then becomes the solution of immortality." 

The originators of Ukiyo-ye, which included in its scope painting 
proper, book illustration and single-sheet pictorial prints, were Iwasa 
Matahei and Moronobu, followed in long succession by Shunsui, 
the precursor of . Hokusai's master, Shunsho; and united with it 
were the engravers of the Torii school, culminating in Kiyonaga (with 
whose grace and beauty of line Hokusai could never compete), the 
refined offshoot of the Kitao, and the elegant scion of Kano Yeishi. 

Hokusai's individuality and independence long galled his master, 
and a final rupture was caused by the pupil's enthusiasm for the bold 
and sweeping, black-and-white, calligraphic strokes of Kano. Then 
began a hard struggle for the youthful artist, who had no money 



and no influence. His father was a .maker of metal 

The mirrors, Hokusai's real name being Nakajima Tetsu 

Hokuwi J* ro but kis pseudonyms were legion. In the atelier 

of Shunsho, he was called Shunro, taking with the 

other disciples of this school of Katsukawa, the first syllable of his 

master's name. 

Cast adrift upon the streets of Yedo, he sold red pepper, and 
hawked almanacs, at the same time constantly studying, and seizing 
the best ideas from all the schools. Blent with an intuitive instinct 
for art, the Japanese nature is essentially histrionic, and throughout 
the whole career of Hokusai there is an element which is genuinely 
dramatic. C. J. Holmes, in his beautiful work on Hokusai, gives 
many romantic incidents in the artist's life, and was it not by a 
theatrical tour de force that he first won popular favour? 

He chose no doubt a national holiday, perhaps the festival of 
"Cherry Viewing," when Uyeno Park is thronged with sightseers 
of every station in life. Here in the heart of the great city of Tokyo 
is a hallowed spot majestic, grand and peaceful, where in mystic 
solemnity the sacred cedars enshrine that wondrous necropolis of illus- 
trious dead, for at Uyeno lie buried six of the famous Shoguns. 

In the courtyard of one of the temples, Hokusai erected a rough 
scaffolding, upon which was spread a sheet of paper, eighteen yards 
long and eleven in width. Here in the sacred heart of Japan, with 
tubs of water and tubs of ink, the master and predestined genius of 
his country manifested his power. He swept his huge brush this way 
and that, the crowd constantly increasing in density, many scaling 
the temple roof to see the marvellous feat, a colossal figure, springing 



into life at the touch of the creator. All who 

know his work can in imagination picture the grand Tfifc 

sweeping curves and graduated shadings that the magic 

broom evolved; and the artistic people gazed spell- 
bound, while many a murmured "Naruhodo!" (Wonderful) and 
sibilant inhalation of the breath marked their recognition of the 
master's power. 

Displaying less of the artist than the genius at legerdemain were 
Hokusai's street tricks almost reprehensible did we not know the 
dire straits to which genius is often reduced. An eager expectant 
crowd dogged his footsteps and watched with delighted curiosity, 
while he sketched landscapes, upside down, with an egg or a bottle, 
or a wine measure, anything that came to his hand, changing with 
bewildering effect from huge figures of Chinese heroes and demi- 
gods to microscopic drawings on grains of rice, and pictures made out 
of chance blots of ink. 

His fame was noised abroad, and at last reached the ears of the 
Shogun, and now an unprecedented honour was conferred upon the 
humble apostle of the artisan, for he was summoned before the august 
presence to give an exhibition of his skill. The Japanese are ever 
imitative, and Hokusai may have borne in mind the legend of his 
prototype Sesshiu, an artist-priest of the fifteenth century, who 
sketched before the Emperor of China a marvellous dragon, with 
splashes from a broom plunged in ink. 

Still more spectacular and theatrical was Hokusai's debut, for, 
spreading a sheet of paper before the feet of the monarch, he covered 
it with a blue wash, then seizing a live cock, he daubed its feet 



with a red pigment, and let it run over the wet colour, 

The when the Shogun and his astonished courtiers beheld a 

Hokusai flowing stream of liquid blue, upon which appeared to 

float filmy segregated petals of red maple leaves. A 

mere trick! unworthy of genius, we might say, but Hokusai had 

gauged his countrymen, and knew that his jeu (Tespril would arouse 

and impress these aristocratic connoisseurs, jaded with ceremonial 

observances, more than any display of technical knowledge, for the 

Japanese, as a nation, are naively childish in their love of novelty 

and amusement, and of the unusual and bizarre. 

Is it not possible that this trickery of the master may have un- 
consciously supplied the motive for Hiroshige's famous print of a 
Yedo suburb, chosen by Professor Fenollosa, in his beautiful work 
on Ukiyo-ye, where he so poetically says, "the orange fire of maples 
deepens the blue of marshy pools"? 

Space does not permit any detailed description of the composi- 
tions of Hokusai, and there is no complete catalogue of his works, 
the one nearest to accuracy being M. Edmond de Goncourt's Cata- 
logue raisonne. His fecundity was marvellous. He illustrated 
books of all kinds, poetry, comic albums, accounts of travels, in fact 
his works are an encyclopedia of Japanese life. His paintings are 
scattered, and countless numbers lost, many being merely ephemeral 
drawings, thrown off for the passing pleasure of the populace. The 
original designs for the prints were transferred to the blocks, 
and lost, though the master rigidly superintended the reproduction 
of his works, and his wood-cutters were trained to follow the 
graceful sweeping curves with perfect accuracy, many of his com- 



^t < f S.3 

9 "*ltf 


positions being ruled across for exact reduction. 

Ukiyo-ye art is bound up with print development, The 
and the climax of xylography had been reached in the 

time of Hokusai. Japanese book illustration, and 
single-sheet printing, revolutionized the world's art. The great con- 
noisseurs of colour tell us that nowhere else is there anything like it, 
so rich and so full, that a print comes to have every quality of a com- 
plete painting. 

Hokusai had served a four years' apprenticeship to the school of 
engraving, and his practiced eye was ever ready to detect any in- 
accuracy in his workmen. "I warn the engraver," he said, "not 
to add an eyeball underneath when I do not draw one. As to the 
nose, these two are mine," here he draws a nose in front and in 
profile, "I will not have the nose of Utagawa." The greatest 
difference exists in the beauty and colouring of the impressions, and 
the amateur, in his search for Ukiyo-ye gems, should not trust his 
unaided judgment. 

M. Louis Gonse said of the surimono, "To me they are the most 
seductive morsels of Japanese art." They are small, oblong prints, 
composed as programmes for festive occasions with a text of verse 
enriched by exquisite illustration. The surimono of Hokusai showed 
the influence of Tosa, the decoration being very elaborate, and deli- 
cate as a Persian miniature. Jn places, the surface of the print is 
goffered for ornament in relief, and the colouring is enforced by 
inlaying in gold, silver, bronze and tin. 

Some of the best examples of Hokusai's art are the "Waterfalls," 
the "Bridges," "Thirty-six Views of Fuji," the"Gwafu," the "Hundred 



Views of Fuji" (of which the finest edition was 

The brought out in London with a commentary by Mr. 

R HoCa e i. f F - V - Dickins), and the fifteen volumes of the "Mang- 

wa," a term hardly translatable, but signifying fugitive 

sketches, or drawing as it comes, spontaneously. The preface best 

gives us the intention of the master. 

"Under the roof of Boksenn, in Nagoya, he dreamed and drew 
some three hundred compositions. The things of Heaven and of 
Buddha, the life of men and women, even birds and beasts, plants 
and trees, he has included them all, and under his brush every phase 
and form of existence has arisen. The master has tried to give life 
to everything he has painted, and the joy and happiness so faithfully 
expressed in his work are a plain proof of his victory." 

Hokusai has been called the king of the artisans, and it was 
for them especially that he composed the drawings of Mang-wa. 
His influence is expressed in all their works: in the structure of the 
roofs of temples, in houses and their interiors; upon the things of every- 
day life, as upon flowers and landscapes, upon lacquer, inros and 
netsukis, bronzes and ivory. 

Gustave Geffroy truly gauged the genius of Hokusai in speaking 
of his "flights beyond the horizon." In the master we recognize 
the creator. He feels the mystery of the birth 6f mountains, as in 
that weird composition of Fuji, where the great cone is seen rising 
above circle upon circle of serpentine coils, forming the mystic tomoye 
symbol of creation and eternity. He feels the pulsation of the 
universe, and the life of ocean, and in a frenzy of creative power, 
beneath his hand the curved crests of foaming waves break into life, 



flashing into countless sea-birds born of the froth of 
ocean. He is the painter of chimera, the prophet of cata- The 
clysm; he "gives the world a shake and invents chaos. Hokuwu. 
How vivid is Holmes' description of the wave in the 
seventh Mang-wa! 

"Man becomes a mere insect, crouching in his frail catamaran, 
as the giant billow topples and shakes far above him. The con- 
vention of black lines with which he represents falling rain is as 
effectual as his conventions for water are fanciful. The storm of 
Rembrandt, of Rubens, or of Turner, is often terrible but never really 
wet; Constable gets the effect of wetness, but his storms are not 
terrible. Hokusai knows how a gale lashes water into foam, and 
bows the tree before it; how the gusts blow the people hither and 
thither, how sheets of drenching rain half veil a landscape, how the 
great white cone of his beloved Fuji gleams through a steady down- 
pour! His lightning is rather odd in comparison with the realistic 
studies of the great artists of Europe, but wha>t European ever tried 
an effect so stupendous as that recorded in 'Fugaku Hiak'kei, 1 where 
the snowy top of Fuji is seen at evening, crimson with the last fiery 
rays of sunset, while all the flanks of the mountain are hidden by a 
dark storm-cloud, through which the lightning flashes!" 

Poetry and art are ever allied, and the vibrations of genius 
encircle the globe. Byron and Ruskin and Hokusai were con- 
temporaries. Possibly at the very moment when the poet was 
immortalizing himself by composing his "Storm in the Alps," the 
grand "old man, mad about drawing," was sketching the peerless 
mountain : 



" Far along 

The From peak to peak, the rattling crags among, 

Romance of Leaps the loud thunder ! not from one lone cloud, 
Hokusai. But every mountain now hath found a tongue, 
And Jura answers through her misty shroud, 
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud." 

Lord Byron's vivid pen also best describes the squally storms of 
both Hiroshige and Hokusai, where 

* The big rain comes dancing to the earth." 

Was not Hokusai truly "a portion of the tempest"? as he represents 
himself, drawing Fuji, in winter, working in a frenzy of haste, for 
the ground is covered with snow two brushes in his hand, and 
wonder of wonders! one held between his toes. This picture, also 
from "The Hundred Views of Fuji," prefaces Marcus B. Huish's 
work on Japanese art. 

The closing scene in the drama of Hokusai's life is full of pathos. 
Though his whole career had been shadowed by poverty, and 
shrouded in obscurity, his art still held him earth-bound. Upon his 
death-bed he said, "If Heaven would only grant me ten more years!" 

Then, as he realized that the end approached, he murmured, "If 
Heaven had but granted me five more years I could have been 
a real painter." 

So ended the life of the master of Ukiyo-ye. His body lies 
beneath the pines of Asakusa, but would we not gladly believe that 
his "soul turned Will-o'-the-wisp, may ever come and go at ease, 
over the summer fields," for this was the last expression of his pas- 
sionate desire. 




Landscape Painter and Apostle of Impressionism. 

3F THE lovely "Land of the Rising Sun" should, during one of 
those volcanic throes which threaten her extinction, sink for- 
ever beneath the depths of ocean, she would yet live for us 
through the magic brush of Hiroshige. Gazing at his land- 
scapes, the airy wing of imagination wafts us to a land of 
showers and sunsets a fairy scene, where the rainbow falls to earth, 
shattered into a thousand prisms where waters softly flow towards 
horizons touched with daffodil or azure tinted. 

Here is a gliding sampan with closed shutters. Inside, the lan- 
tern's diffused light throws a silhouette upon the bamboo curtain, a 
drooping girlish head bending towards the unseen lover at her feet. 
Ripples play upon the water, stirred by the amorous breath of ori- 
ental night. In fancy we hear the tinkling of the samisen, touched 
by delicate fingers, sweetly perfumed. 

Now we see rain upon the Tokaido. A skurrying storm. Af- 
frighted coolies running this way and that. A mountain full of echoes 
and horror. Down it splash rivulets, running into inky pools. Dark- 
ness and terror and loneliness, and longing for warmth and shelter and 
the peace of home. 

In marked contrast is one of the "Seven Impressions of Hakone." 
A glad reveille. The sun breaks out, the clouds have burst asunder, 
masses of vapour float here and there. All is chaotic, untamed, a 
palette wildly mingled. 

The Japanese so dearly love Nature, in all her moods, that when 



she dons her mantle of snow they hesitate, even when ne- 
cessity compels, to sully its purity. In one of Utamaro's 
prints, sweetly entitled by M. Edmond de Goncourt "La 
Nature Argentee," a little musiime is seen searching the 
snowy landscape she loves, and, hating to blot the beautiful carpet, 
she cries, "Oh, the beautiful new snow ! Where shall I throw the tea- 
leaves?" With Hiroshige, the artist of snow and mist, we feel this 
love, and so successfully does he deal with a snowy landscape that 
we see the snow in masses, luminous, soft and unsullied, as if Nature 
had lent a helping hand to portray her pure white magic. So, with- 
out formula or technique, but absolutely and sincerely, he unrolls the 
winter pageant before us. 

The Japanese landscape painter sums up nature in broad lines, to 
which all details are more or less subordinated. This rendering of 
the momentary vision of life and light, the spirit, not the letter of 
the scene, is what is meant by Impressionism. Whereas, however 
the French impressionists express light by modelling surfaces, the 
Japanese adhere rigidly to line, and rely upon gradations of colour 
and the effect of washes to produce the illusion of light. Their land- 
scape is expressed in clear-cut lines and flat masse$ of colour. In the 
prints this virtue of abstract line is exemplified, the outline being the 
essential element of the composition, for upon line and arrangements 
of balanced colour the artist must depend, cramped as he is by the 
necessities of the wood-cut. And here he displays his wonderful in- 
genuity, his fineness of gradations and opposition, his boldness and 
infinity of device, and in spite of the limitations which hamper him, he 


Wistaria Viewing at 

By Hiroshige. 


realizes absolute values in the narrowest range, by 
virtue of his knowledge of lines and spaces. 

"No scientifically taught artist," said Jarves, "can 
get into as few square inches of paper a more distinct 
realization of space, distance, atmosphere, perspective and landscape 
generally, not to mention sentiment and feeling." 

This virtue of the line is the inheritance of the Japanese, the con- 
summate handling of the brush almost a racial instinct. From China, 
far back in the centuries, came the sweeping calligraphic stroke, of 
which in Japan the school of Kano became the noblest exponent. 
"L'eco/e," said M. de Goncourt, "Jes audaces et de la bravoure du 
faire, I'ecole iantot aux ecrasements du pinceau, tantoi aux tenuites 
d'un c/ieveu." 

As soon as the tiny hand of the Japanese baby can grasp the 
brush its art education begins. The brush is the Japanese alphabet 
it is their fairy wand, their playmate they learn to paint intuitively, 
though later the most assiduous study is given to acquire the charac- 
teristic touch of the school with which they affiliate. The brush is 
their genie, subservient to their imagination; they master and "juggle 
with it. For no foreign taught technique will they barter their 

And our masters and instructors in art more and more recognize 
the value of initial brush-work. The following excerpt from Walter 
Crane, in Line and Form, might serve as a preface to a work on 
Hokusai or Hiroshige: "The practice of forming letters with the 
brush afforded a very good preliminary practice to a student of line 
and form. An important attribute of line is its power of expressing 



or suggesting movement. Undulating lines always sug- 
gest action and unrest or the resistance of force of some 

IT* L*,..^ 

kind. The firm-set yet soft feathers of a bird must be 
rendered by a different touch from the shining scales of 
a fish. The hair and horns of animals, delicate human features, 
flowers, the sinuous lines of drapery, or the massive folds of heavy 
robes, all demand from the draughtsman in line different kinds of 
suggestive expression." 

We are told that Hiroshige began his career by making pictures 
in coloured sands on an adhesive background, to amuse the public, 
and perhaps this artistic juggling helped him later in arranging his 
schemes of colour, for the limitations of the block demanded almost 
equal simplicity in composition. 

The impressions of Lake Biwa, one of Hiroshige's finest series 
of views, serve as a beautiful illustration of the almost exclusive use 
of line in bringing out the salient characteristics of the landscape. 
His sweeping brush shows us volcanic mountains, encircling the lake, 
like rocky billows, torn and jagged, for legend says that as the peer- 
less mountain Fuji-san rose in one night, so the ground sank, and the 
space was filled by the beautiful lake named from its resemblance 
in form to the Japanese lute. The trees which fringe the shore, black 
and misty, upon close inspection resolve themselves into a network of 
criss-cross lines and blotches. The sampans* sails, the waves, the 
rushes on the shore, the roofs of the village nestling beneath the cliffs, 
are all adroitly rendered by horizontal lines and skillful zigzags. The 
rest of the composition is a wash of shaded blues and grays, fading 
towards the horizon into smoky violets. 



Biwa, the beautiful, suggestive of mystery, the four- 
stringed lute gives thee her name. Through the music 
of thy rippling eddies do sighs well up in thee, the mur- 
mur of the lost? A pall of darkness hovers over thee, 
pierced by a gleam of sunshine, beckoning like a lover's hand. 

Much diversity of opinion exists with regard to the identity of the 
artist, or artists, who designed the prints signed Hiroshige. The latest 
research, however, justifies the assertion that there was but one land- 
scape painter, Hiroshige the Great. 

The pupils, notably one, who, among other names, signed Shi- 
genobu, until after his master's death, when he took the title of Hiro- 
shige the Second, gradually assuming his full nom-de-pinceau t Hiro- 
shige Ichiryusai, faithfully imitated his style, also amplifying the 
multitudinous designs and sketches made by the master, yet the genius 
of the great artist is stamped upon his work, and as a clever critic 
tersely says: "Everything he touched was his autograph." 

Mr. John S. Happer, an indefatigable student of Ukiyo-ye and 
collector of nishiki-ye gems, during diligent research, discovered a 
clew that leads, beyond controversy, to the right attribution of the 
prints signed Hiroshige, and which he intends later to make public. 
Nearly all the important vertical sets, he says, most of which have 
been ascribed to the second Hiroshige, are by the first artist, although 
doubtless his pupils assisted him in his work, rendering their aid, as 
did the pupils of Hokusai in the preparation of the Mang-wa. Hiro- 
shige also associated himself at times with other artists, one set of 
the Kisokaido, for example, being in part the work of Keisai Yeisen, 



and he supplied many backgrounds to the prints of Kuni- 
sada and Kuniyoshi. 
Hiroshige. j n the catalogue of the "Collection Hayashi" only 

two prints are assigned to pupils of Hiroshige, one of 
them bearing the signature of Shigenobu. 

The masterpieces signed Hiroshige are all by one great genius, 
the Apostle of Impressionism. "Hiro, Hiro, Hiroshige, great is Hiro- 
shige," cries Mr. Happer, in an outburst of enthusiasm. "Before 
Hiroshige there was no Japanese landscape master, after him there 
is none." 

In the "Happer" Collection is a memorial portrait of Hiroshige 
by Kunisada (Toyokuni), the inscription upon which is of especial 
interest, confirming, as it does, the date of his death and proving that 
the "Meisho Yedo Hiak'kei," the vertical set of Yedo views, so 
often ascribed to his successor, were by the master. 

The inscription is thus quaintly interpreted by a Japanese student : 

"Ryusai Hiroshige is a distinguished follower of Toyohiro, who 
was a follower of Toyoharu, the founder of the Utagawa School. 
At the present time, Hiroshige, Toyokuni and Kuniyoshi are con- 
sidered the three great masters of Ukiyo-ye, no others equal them. 
Hiroshige was especially noted for landscape. In the Ansei era, 
1854-1859, he published the 'Meisho Yedo Hiak'kei' ('Hundred 
Views of Yedo'), which vividly present the scenery of Yedo to the 
multitude of admirers. 

"About this time also appeared a magazine entitled 'Meisho 
Zuye' ( 'Sonnets on Yedo Scenes' ) , a monthly, illustrated by Hiro- 
shige, and displaying his wonderful skill with the brush, to the admi- 



ration of the world. He passed away, to the world be- 
yond, on the sixth day of the ninth month of this year. 
1858, at the ripe age of sixty-two (sixty-one by our 
count). He left behind a last testament, or farewell 
sonnet, ^Azuma ji ni jude ro no-^oshite tabi no sora; Nishi no mi 
kuni no Meisho wo Mimu.* (Dropping the brush at Azuma, East- 
ern Capital, I go the long journey to the Western Country, Buddhist 
Heaven is in the West, to view the wonderful sceneries there; per- 
chance to limn them too.) 

"This by Temmei Rojin, picture by Toyokuni. 
"Dated, Ansei 5, ninth month (October, 1858)." 
The best known prints by Hiroshige are the "Fifty-three Stations 
between Yedo and Kyoto." This Tokaido series was at first beau- 
tifully printed, but the later impressions show a sad decay in the 
colouring. The "Yedo Haik'kei" or "Hundred Views of Yedo," 
give a panoramic vista of the Shoguns' capital. The pictorial de- 
scription of Yedo, in black and pale blue, is a lovely series. In many 
of these landscapes the Dutch influence is very marked, for the master 
of Hiroshige, Toyohiro, from whom he derived the first syllable of 
his nom-de-f)inceau t had experimented in landscape painting after the 
Dutch wood-cuts which were scattered throughout the country. Al- 
though Hiroshige is best known through his landscapes, he, like most 
Japanese painters, was too universal an artist to confine himself solely 
to one branch. He loved every phase of nature, and in one of his 
well-known prints, "The Eagle," his skill in the delineation of birds 
is best shown. In the later impressions a pale yellowish tone takes the 



place of the beautiful steel-blue background of the earlier 
prints, miracles of colour printing. 

Athwart this background of ineffable blue, which 
loses itself in the mists that veil the sacred mountain, is 
seen, sweeping and sailing cruelly alert, the evil eagle of Hiroshige. 
His wicked gaze is set on nests of murmuring wood-doves, he eyes 
the callow sea-birds in their bed of rushes. The temple bell rings 
solemnly; the long vibrations cleave the azure dusk. It is the hour 
of rest and dreams. Begone, base harbinger of evil! 

In the early prints by Hiroshige the colours are most beautiful, 
one soft tone fading imperceptibly into another, the blues and greens 
so marvellously blended as to be almost interchangeable. We are 
told that Michelangelo loved the companionship of the old workman 
who ground his colours; and of the Japanese, it is said, "this making 
one family of the greater artist and all who had to do with him 
has given that peculiar completeness, that sense of peace and absence 
of struggle which we feel in Japanese art." 

In vain Hiroshige fought, towards the middle of the nineteenth 
century, against introduction of cheap and inferior pigments, which 
were taking the place of the native dyes Nature's gifts, distilled 
by her artist children. Reds, yellows, blues and greens, intense and 
crude, were now imported, and Western commercialism sapped the 
virtue of the sincere and devoted artists and artisans of the Orient. 

In describing the effect of colour in one of the Nikko temples, W. 
B. Van Ingen throws a searchlight upon the chemical secrets of this 
splendour, which he tells us, if asked to describe in one word, that 



word would be "golden." "These colours," he says, 
"are not imitations of colours. If vermilion is used, 
it is cinnabar and not commercialized vermilion which 
is employed, nor is something substituted for cobalt be- 
cause it is cheaper and will 'do just as well. 1 Each colour is used 
because it is beautiful and frank as a colour, not because some other 
colour is beautiful. If lacquer is the best medium to display the 
beauty of the pigment, lacquer is used, and if water is better, lacquer 
is discarded, and if these colours are not imitations of colours, neither 
are they suggestions of colours. Pink is not used for red ; if it is used 
at all, it is used for its own beauty, and feeble bluish washes are not 
made to do service for blue. The Oriental has not yet learned the 
doctrine of substitution; he knows that substitution is transformation." 

The secrets of colouring of the early prints, the joy of Parisian 
studios and which inspired Whistler, are lost. The delicious greens 
of old mosses, the pale rose tints, the veinings and marblings, the 
iridescent tints of ocean shells, the luminous colours of the anemone, 
the bleus malades des mauves that divine violet, a benison of the 
palette handed down by those old Buddhist monks, the earliest paint- 
ers of India and China. 

These visions of colour are taking the place of obscurity and 
gloom, for the great impressionists, Claude Monet, Manet, the Bar- 
bizon school also and its disciples, have abjured the old dark shadows 
and substituted violet washes, seeming to share the privilege with the 
saints and sages of "seeing blue everywhere." All true artists live 
"within the sphere of the infinite images of the soul." These seers 
are their own masters, and, as Theodore Child says so exquisitely, 



"they are of rare and special temperaments, and through 
their temperament they look at nature and see beautiful 
' lge ' personal visions. They fix their visions in colour or 
marble and then disappear forever, carrying with them 
the secrets of their mysterious intellectual processes. H Such a special 
temperament was bequeathed to Whistler. He submitted himself to 
the Japanese influence, not imitating but imbibing oriental methods, 
and following them, notwithstanding Philistine clamour, for the 
English art doctrines of the time were diametrically opposed to these 
innovations. Regardless of sneers, he followed the bent of his genius, 
which led him into oriental fields. He felt the sweet influence of such 
artists as Hokusai and Hiroshige. He took advantage of the centuries 
of thought given to drapery, in the land where, as with Greece, dress 
is a national problem ; where no fads and follies of fashion fostered by 
commercialism are allowed; where the artists design dress, and the 
people gratefully and sincerely adopt their ideas. 

When we can follow them and allow art to rule, then hideous 
vagaries and vulgarities, distortions of the figure by hoops and wires, 
and monstrosities in sleeves will cease. Then may we hope to be an 
aesthetic nation. We need our American Moronobus to design and 
embroider and paint dresses for their beautiful and intuitively tasteful 

The colour vision of the Oriental far surpasses our own. His 
eyes are sensitive to colour harmonies which, applied to landscape, 
at first seem unreal, impossible, until we realise that though they pre- 
sent objects in hues intrinsically foreign to them, yet the result justifies 
this arrangement, and its integrity is recognized, for the impression 



we receive is the true one. And this chaotic massing of 
colour we notice in a landscape by Hiroshige was em- 
ployed by many of the old masters. Of the stormy 
passion of Tintoret, Ruskin says: "He involves his earth 
in coils of volcanic cloud, and withdraws through circle flaming above 
circle the distant light of paradise." 

There is a keynote to art, as to music, and to genius; through 
the inner vision this harmony is revealed. It lies within the precincts 
of the soul, beyond the reach of talented mediocrity, however versed 
in the canon of art. Nor can this occult gift be handed down. The 
most ardent disciples of Raphael tried in vain to express themselves 
after his pattern. The sublime inspiration which found its fullest out- 
ward manifestation in the Sistine Madonna rested there. The poets 
realized this colour vision, for Dante cri< 

* Had I a tongue in eloquence as rich 
As is the colouring in Fancy's loom." 

Inspiration must be sought by other than mechanical means. Have not 
the most inspired revelations of colour come to the great master i 
William Keith, when, invoking the aid of his old temple bell, its lin- 
gering vibrations yielded to him rich secrets of colour harmony, as 
the song of the bell revealed to the soul of Schiller the mystery of 
life and birth and death, which he crystallized in his immortal poem? 
This is the keynote of Impressionism, the touchstone of art. What 
a fairy wand was wafted by Whistler, standing upon Battersea 
Bridge! "The evening mist," he said, "clothes the riverside with 
poetry, as with a veil, and the poor buildings lose themselves in the 
dim sky, and the tall chimneys become Campanili, and the ware- 



houses are palaces in the night and the whole city hangs 
in the heavens, and fairyland is before us!" 

Leaning upon the bridge, the sweet influence of Hiro- 
shige permeating his soul, in the crucible of his fancy he 
blent with the radiant Orient a vision of old London, grimy and 
age-worn, and realized "a Japanese fancy on the banks of the gray 
Thames." To this picture he set the seal of his brother artist, and 
so the two apostles of Impressionism, Occidental and Oriental, in that 
loveliest nocturne, will together go down to posterity. 



Analytical Comparisons 

between the Masters of Ukiyo-ye. 

3T IS difficult rightly to determine the distinguishing charac- 
teristics of the noted artists of Ukiyo-ye: but the connois- 
seurs speak of the extreme grace of pictorial line in Morono- 
bu: the sweeping areas of pattern in the garments of Kiyo- 
nobu and his followers, and their forceful ways of outlining 
the folds of drapery, all full of meaning. 

Grace and delicacy mark the idyllic compositions of Harunobu 
and his successor Koriusai (the face of the Japanese woman is the 
face of Harunobu, Koriusai, Shunsho and his school). M. de Gon- 
court says: "The Japanese woman is lithe, little, and rounded. Out 
of this woman Utamaro created the slender, svelte woman of his 
prints, a woman who has the delicate outlines of an early Watteau 
sketch. Before Utamaro, Kiyonaga had drawn women, larger than 
nature, but fleshy and thick. The face of the ordinary Japanese 
woman is short and squat, and except for the inexpressible vivacity 
and sweetness of the black eyes it is the face which Harunobu, Kori- 
usai and Shunsho represented. Out of this face Utamaro created a 
long oval. He slid into the traditional treatment of the features a 
mutinous grace, a naive astonishment, a spiritual comprehension; and 
he was the first artist who attempted, while preserving the consecrated 
traditional lines, to blend with them a human expression, so that 
his best prints become real portraits. Studying them, we no longer 
see only the universal, but the individual face, and, unlike the other 



Japanese artists, he idealizes his countrywoman through 
Analytical ^ e mimicry of her gracious humanity." 
Comparisons. The women of Kiyonaga have a more than human 
dignity and grace, the classic folds of his drapery re- 
calling figures of the Renaissance. The Japanese artist always has 
an underlying motive in the disposition of his drapery. The most 
recognizable perhaps are those called "Guantai," signifying rude, 
with angular outlines, and "Rintai," delicate, supple and wavy, like 
the undulations of a river. 

In the "Guantai" motive we see the angles of the rocks, even in 
the most delicate folds of drapery. In "Rintai" no angle is visible. 
Here wavelike ripples descend, flowing around the feet of the wearer. 
In these swirls of drapery are realized the Buddhist conceptions of Life 
in everything, the lines are moving, sentient, and all but the leading 
folds that determine the lines of the figure are suppressed. The Jap- 
anese painter knows that the true master selects, does not draw all 
he sees, but concentrates his efforts towards reproducing the lines of 
movement, and in figures, the lines of the limbs and flowing drapery. 
In their designs for dresses the artists of Ukiyo-ye emphasized the 
theorem that art is the love of certain balanced relations and propor- 
tions, for they planned dresses in which every separate part is welded 
into one harmonious whole. They solved theories in colour, and de- 
lighted in selecting as trials for their skill the most unmanageable 
patterns, such as plaids and checks. They extolled "Notan" or the 
decorative use of values. 

In the best prints the decoration of the dress fits in with the 
scheme of the picture. M. de Goncourt says: "If the figures are 


Two Ladi. 
By Yeuhi, who gave 

to hii facei 
a mystic, even religious 


like the wotnrn of the 

Middle Age*. 


represented out of doors, flowers seem to be shed upon 
the dresses, as if the wearer passed beneath blossoming Analytical 
trees. If the artist paints butterflies on a costume, they Comparisons, 
harmonize with the background. If peonies are used 
he alternates their whiteness with a purple tint. And how admirable 
is their use of relief! Upon a blue or mauve gown, how charming 
is the white relief of an embossed cherry petal, and so marvellously 
executed is this goffering, that many of the oldest impressions retain 
the impression as perfectly as if only printed yesterday." Utamaro 
at first equalled Kiyonaga in the majesty of his figures, later he lost 
beauty and strength in exaggeration. Yeishi shows a striking 
resemblance to Utamaro, and he, too, followed after Kiyonaga: his 
studies of women are noted for their refined elegance. Yeisen com- 
pares with Utamaro in the grace with which he portrays women, 
and Yeizan's lines are stronger, but show a marked similarity. Hart- 
mann says: "The linear beauties of the representations of Yeizan, 
Yeishi, Yeisen, impress one like a Nautch, like some languid oriental 
dance in which the bodies undulate with an almost imperceptible 
vibration. The Japanese see in a woman, a glorification of all 
beautiful things they even study the natural grace of the willow, 
plum and cherry trees, to find the correct expression of her 

Toyokuni was the master of mimetic art. In his actor faces he 
runs the gamut of emotion, jealousy, passion, fiendish fury and 
concentrated cunning, rush at ,us from his prints. Toyokuni, the 
Marionette maker, forced life into the forms of his puppets, and later 
the same power is shown in his designs for the block. Like many 



of the Ukiyo-ye artists, he employs caricature, but his 
Analytical figures are living, sentient. 

Comparisons. M. de Goncourt says: "In comparing two books by 

Utamaro, and Toyokuni, illustrating the occupations of 
the women of the Yoshiwara Toyokuni, often the equal of Utamaro 
in his triptychs is beaten by his rival. His women have not the 
elegance, the willowy grace, the figures of Utamaro possess, nor 
their replendent personality. His pictures lack the spirit, the life, 
the 'trick 1 of voluptuousness of the women of the 'Flower Quar- 
ter.' Then the comic note which Toyokuni sought for in representing 
these scenes, adds triviality to his work. In short, to judge between 
the rival painters, one has only to place side by side a woman painted 
by Utamaro and one by Toyokuni. The first is a little marvel, the 
second only a commonplace print." Kunisada followed in the 
footsteps of his master Toyokuni, adding charming backgrounds, 
which he borrowed from Hiroshige; in fact, the Hiroshige are said 
to have supplied many backgrounds to the prints of Kunisada and 

Hokusai used all methods, acknowledged no school. His lines 
flowing out of the prescribed limits hint at vast stretches of country. 
Swirls of waves foam up in the impressions, supplying an alphabet of 
motion. In Mang-wa is blent sweetness and power, structure and 
the fundamental vital motive, underlying all art. When working 
for the engraver he was concise, rapid and impulsive, but when con- 
templating nature he sketched in freedom, his execution became 

The landscape of Hiroshige, though confined to the narrow 


An Actor 
in the Miyako Dance. 

By Shunko. 

pupil of Shuniho, 

nicknamed Ko-Uubo, 

or 'The Little Jar. 1 

from the teal 
used by hit 


range of the wood-cut, have all the qualities of Impres- 
sionism, the details are subordinated, only the salient Analytical 
points of the scene being represented, but the atmosphere Comparisons, 
supplies what is lacking, and this incommunicable, subtle 
gift, the birthright of the artists, enabled them to conjure living 
pictures from the hard medium of the wooden block. 

The following suggestive comparisons between the masters of 
Ukiyo-ye, kindly volunteered by Mr. Morgan Shepard, are full of 
value to the student, as the individual opinion of a refined amateur 
and art critic. 

Of Harunobu he says: "Though from the point of proportion 
his figures seem to lack technic, the naive artlessness of his lines 
perfectly satisfies us. In this purpose of simplicity they almost 
suggest the qualities of the fresco work by the early Tuscan masters, 
when the spirit was striving for expression and working out indi- 
viduality along its own spiritual lines. The vigour of his stroke 
impresses one as being untraditional. 

"In the figure of the Dancer by Shunko, the pupil of Shunsho, 
we observe that, although through training and tradition the pupil 
has gained a greater facility, yet the simplicity of the master is lost 
- in an excess of elaboration. The lines resemble those of Shunsho, 
though there is more uniformity of stroke, with a greater delicacy, 
but the simplicity of the first artist is merged in decorative purpose. 
Shunsho is distinctly simple and his lines have a blended quality 
of relation, giving a sense of repose which in the pupil is obscured 
by the tendency to elaborate. 

"In epitomizing the cardinal qualities expressed in the Utamaro 



prints, the most marked is the suggestion of subjective, 
Analytical unconscious skill that gives no impress of the objective. 
Comparisons. Each line seems to come directly from the fountain- 
head of the man's spiritual or soul nature, though this 
very soul nature expresses itself often along sensual lines. Indeed, 
were the artist less of a spiritual genius, he would often become 
revoltingly sensual. To the casual observer the lines of Utamaro 
show wonderful facility, and still greater delicacy, yet we cannot 
but observe underlying all his art, especially in its later phases, 
this subtle sensuality. The lower draperies of the Utamaro figures 
have an almost insinuating fullness. 

"The compositions of Yeishi, upon superficial study, suggest 
marked facility and even some originality in line composition, with 
here and there an eccentricity which gives character to his treatment. 
The lines seem to be invariably broad and openly expressed. They 
lack the strong personality and vigorous treatment of Hokusai, the 
suggestive delicacy and voluptuousness of Utamaro, but seem to 
embody the vigorous calligraphic stroke of Kiyonaga. We can place 
Yeishi upon a plane of individuality because of his sensitive tempera- 
ment which seemed to be influenced by his environment and his 
master teacher. This varied individuality was accompanied by a 
tendency towards imitation, yet a generous discrimination would 
concede to him facility, technic, refinement and rare judgment. 

"The lines of Toyokuni show technical skill, and his calli- 
graphic stroke is simple and vigorous, yet he lacks the spiritual and 
suggestive delicacy of Utamaro, giving the impression that externalities 
influenced him, rather than the finer shades of artistic interpretation. 


The Snowstorm. 
By Kitugawa "Yeizan. 




His best work is histrionic and is full of individuality, 

breaking through the traditional stage attitudes, which Analytical 

impressed the artists who developed along his lines. Comparisons. 

"Yeizan's treatment is peculiarly his own, having a 
simplicity almost amounting to awkwardness expressed in a reserve of 
treatment. The casual observer is impressed by a sense of incomplete- 
ness, but this is overcome when the simple harmony of the lines 
is noted. Yeizan invariably breaks loose from his first reserve. Be- 
ginning very carefully he gradually loses his constraint, and the lower 
part of his drapery shows greater impulse of treatment. 

"The work of Yeisen, showing much of Utamaro's facility, with 
a touch of the vigour of Kiyonaga, is yet distinctly conceived along 
traditional lines. It bears the strong impress of decorative sense, but 
nevertheless the lines, though simple and well controlled, show rather 
the finished master of technic than the originative mind. In Yeisen 
we are less conscious of that emanating quality of originality and 
forceful personality that we feel in Harunobu, Hokusai and 

In analyzing the composition of the celebrated work by Hokusai, 
reproduced on the opposite page, Mr. Shepard comments: "In 
this, as in all Hokusai's pictures, we note the combination of vigour 
and gentleness, characteristic aggression and insinuating suggestion, 
an absolutely masterly touch, and yet painstaking in minutiae. The 
poise of the figure is admirable and absolutely satisfying in all 
matters of drawing. The treatment of the waves, which are peculiarly 
characteristic of the master's touch, in their foamy sputter suggest 
a comparison with the strength of Hiroshige's huge billows, majestic 



in their oily smoothness and sweeping grace. Giving the 

Analytical impression of the middle distance, the artist has delicately 

Comparisons, approached with the most wonderful ease, the vapory 

suggestion of the distant mountain line. He slips 
from t^e vigour of the foreground with a parallel stroke of 
astonishing freedom, seeming almost to remain poised, so that we 
reach without violence the faintly suggested distance as if we had 
unconsciously slid from reality into dreamland, unknowing of the 
transition. Hokusai possesses a masterly technic, a characteristic 
vigour, imagination, delicacy ofttimes opposed by a brutal rugged- 
ness, and above all a pervading sense of humour." 


Hints to Collectors 

of Ukiyo-ye Gems. 

O TRULY appreciate Japanese prints, a knowledge of 
the language of the block must first be acquired, then 
ic pursuit has an indescribable charm, inexplicable ex- 
cepting to the initiated, but to those who have fallen 
under the spell, the love of Ukiyo-ye gems becomes a veritable 
passion. The collector of old prints must be guided in his selection 
by the quality of the paper, which should be soft and vibrant, the 
fibrous tentacles upon its surface often forming shadows where it has 
been exposed to the dust. The register must be perfect, each colour 
being confined absolutely to its prescribed space. Perfection in the 
register is an infallible guide, and prints with a perfect register will 
increase in value. The colours must be soft and melting, in many 
cases one tone shading into another, not harshly determined by the 
lines of the block, as in even the most beautiful reproductions. The 
florid colouring of the later impressions by the Hiroshige are notable 
examples of the deterioration caused by the use of cheap pigments 
and the haste of the printer who had to supply the increasing demand 
for cheap pictures. 

There are often exquisite examples of colouring to be found 
among the later impressions from the old blocks, but the lovely colours 
and nuances of colours conjured by the artists, designers arid printers 
in loving collaboration, before commercialism had invaded Japan, 
can never be seen again, even as the disciples of William Morns 
seem unable to reproduce the beautiful shades which the genius 
of the master workman evolved from the dyeing-vat. 


Bibliography, for Use of Students. 

Anderson, William: Pictorial Arts of Japan. (London: Sampson 

Low, 1886.) 
Anderson, William: Japanese Wood Engravings: Their History, 

Technique and Characteristics. (London: Portfolio, 1895.) 
Bing, S.: Artistic Japan: Compiled by S. Bing, with the assistance 

of Wm. Anderson, T. Hayashi, E. de Goncourt, and others. 

(New York: Brentano's, 5 Union Square.) 
Fenollosa, Ernest Francisco: An Outline of the History of Ukiyo-ye. 

(Tokyo: Kobayashi.) 
Fenollosa, Mary McNeil: Hiroshige, the Artist of Mist, Snow, 

and Rain. (San Francisco, 1901.) 
Goncourt, E. de: Outamaro, Le Peintre des Maisons Vertes. 

(Paris: 11 Rue de Grenelle, 1891.) 

Gonse, Louis: L'Art Japonais. (Paris: A. Quartin, 1883.) 
Hartman, Sadakichi: Japanese Art. s (Boston: Page & Co., 


Hayashi, T. : Catalogue of the Hayashi Collection, with Illus- 
trations. (Paris, 1902.) 
Holmes, C. J. : Hokusai. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 

Huish, Marcus B.: Japan and Its Art. (London: The Fine Arts 

Society, 1893.) 
Jarves, James Jackson: A Glimpse of the Art of Japan. (New 

York, 1875.) 



Okakura, Kakuzo: Essays on Japanese Art, in "Japan," edited 

by F. Brinkley. Also: Japanese Pictorial Art, in Vol. 7, 

"Japan and China," by F. Brinkley. (Boston and Tokyo: 

J. B. Millet Co.) 
Pepper, Charles Hovey: Japanese Prints. (Boston: Walter 

Kimball & Company.) 

Perzynski, Friedrich: Farbenholzschnitt Der Japanische. (Berlin.) 
Revon, Michel: Etude Sur Hok'sai. (Paris, 1896.) 
Seidlitz, W. von: Geschichte Des Japanischen Farbenholzschnitts. 

(Dresden: Gerhard Kuhtmann, 1897.) 
Strange, Edward F.: Japanese Illustration. (London: George 

Bell & Sons. 1904.) 
Strange, Edward F.: Colour Prints of Japan. (Langham Series 

of Art Monographs. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 





of the most famous Signatures of Ukiyo-ye Artists. 


HUhikawa Moronobu. Okumura Maianobu. Suzuki Harunobu. 
1643-1711-13. 1690-1720. 1747-1818. 


Died 1792. 


litM (Hokusai). 



Hokusai. Gakio Rojm Manji Hok'kci. 

1760-1849, (Hokuiai). 1760- 1849- 1780-1856-9. 



Died 1814. 







Kikugawa Yeizan. 
Flourithed 1810-30. 

Kuniiada. Yeishi. 

1 785- 1 864. Floutuhed 1 754- 1 805. 












22 39 





- - 345 

Brunt, Henry Van 

- 32 


- 30 

rvcnzan * 

- 13 

Child, Theodore 


Kitao - - 


Cho Densu 

- 6 

- 27 

Kiyomasu, Torii - 
Kiyomitsu, Torii 

- 22 
- - - 26 

Crane, Walter - 


Kiyonaga, Torii - 
Kiyonobu, Torii 

- 32, 33 
- 26 


- - - 26 


- 13 

Koriusai - 





- 39 

Forty-seven Ronin 

- . - 14 


- - - 20 

Kuranosuki - 

- 16 


- 13 


- 24 

Leonardo da Vinci 



f rr 



- 70 

l_iA F cirgc 

Harunobu, Suzuki 


Matahei - 


Hayashi, T. - 

- 38 


- - - 5-6 


< - j 


- 8 


- 34, 57 


Ming Dynasty 

- 2 

Mitford - 



- 34, 47 

Miyagawa Choshun 







- 31 


- 9 

Jipensha, Ikkou 

- 36 


6,9, 10, 11,20,21 


IVlntonnKii - 

*i A 7 



Index Continued 



M* U'L* 



- 13 

No Kagura - 




Notan - - 

- 70 


- - - - 21 

Okie - - - 

- 30,31 

Tan-ye - 

- 21,39 

Okumura Masanobu 

- 22 


- - - - 11 

Otsu-ye - 




Torii School 

- 21-34 

Pater - 


Tosa School - 

3, 4, 5, 9 

Popular School 

2, 8, 9, 30 

Toyoharu - 



- 77 


- 33, 44 

Renaissance - 


Toyonobu - 

- 29 


- 70 



Ruskin - 


Utagawa - 

- - - 29 


- 51 


20, 33, 35-46 




- - - - 50 


- - 29 



Shigenaga ... 



- - - - 75 

Shoguns - 


Yeishi - 



47 *>n 



onunro - 
SKunsho - 

t / j\j 
26-29, 49 

Yeizan - 

- - - 71,75 




- 36-37 


On the Reverse. 

The Ride of the Warrior Miura Kenisuke 

The inscription is a Poem 
he composed before Kiting out 

for Corea. 

By Yanagawa Shigenobu, the Son-in-Iav 
of Hokusai.