This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
By A. B. Bogart.
For suggestions for treatment, see page 245.
Enlarged, this Design would make an effective
For suggestions for treatment, see page 261.
Books So Far Reviewed, And Selected For Our Art Worker's And Art Lover's Library.
" Figure Drawing" .....
Richd. G. Hatton
Chapman & Hall, Henrietta Street Covent Garden..
Vol. II., No. 8
"Modelling" (2 vols.) .....
,, , ,, "
,, No. 9.
" Handbook of Plant-form "...
Ernest E. Clark
B. T. Batsford, 94. High Holborn .....
5 - net
"Ornament and its Application ' ..
Lewis F. Day ...
8 6 net
"Silverwork and Jewellery"
H. Wilson .....
John Hogg, 13, Paternoster Row .....
5 - net
"Art Enamelling upon Metals" ..
Henry Cunynhame ..
Archibald Constable & Co., 1, Whitehall Gardens, S.W
" Wood-carving '......
George Jack ...
" Book-hinding "......
Douglas Cockerill ..
5 - net
"G. F. Watts" ...
West And Pantini
George Newnes, Ltd. .. .....
3 6 net
„ No. 9.
" How to Identify Portrait Minia tures" ........
George Williamson ..
Geo. Bell & Sons .........
"Japanese Colour Prints."
By Edward F. Strange.
IT has been claimed by Sadakichi Hartmann that nearly two-thirds of all painters who have become prominent during the last twenty years have learned, in one instance or another, from the Japanese. He instances Whistler's "Nocturnes," Manet's ambition to see things flat, Monet's serial treatment of one phase of nature, the peculiar space composition of Degas, Skarbina, the German secessionists, and the poster-painters, the parallelism of vertical lines as practised by Puvis de Chavannes, and the Kano-school-like colouring of Steinlen's Gil Blas illustrations. He goes even further, and undertakes to show that Kiyonaga was the forerunner of the pre-Raphaelites. Here, however, he proves too much; it is doubtful if Japanese art was known in Europe when the pre-Raphaelites began their work. Of its influence, Liter, on European art, of course, there is no doubt, and the painter of "La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine," "The Balcony," and "Nocturne in Blue and Silver - Fragment of Old Battersea Bridge" never pretended to disguise his indebtedness to it. As Theodore Child once remarked, "to. have loved Japanese art five-and-twenty years before its productions became polluted by the profane admiration of millionaire collectors and by the stereotyped enthusiasm of the aesthetic diner-out, is one of the many evidences which Mr. Whistler has given of the originality and the delicacy of his artistic temperament." It is, nevertheless, somewhat startling, in turning over the pages of this volume by Mr. Strange, to find, among the eighty odd delightful reproductions of prints he has selected from the collection of the National Art Library, the actual print that apparently inspired "The Balcony" - or "Arrangement in Flesh-Colour and Green," as Whistler chose to name it. There seems no room for doubt in the matter, although in the Japanese print - it is by Yeizan, and called " Geisha on a Balcony" - only the two principal figures appear, and they are differently posed and treated. In both pictures we have the balcony overlooking the river, the screen to the right, the woman standing, and the woman seated while twanging a guitar-like instrument; and - this is of more importance - the general sentiment is the same. The print also recalls that beautiful colour arrangement, " La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine." Indeed, if the recollection of the present writer is not at fault, the composition of the latter painting is even more suggestive of Yeizan's print than is that of "The Balcony." Unfortunately, neither of these exquisite canvases of Whistler is included in the Memorial Exhibition at the New Gallery.
All this, however, is rather beside our purpose in noticing the volume before us. That the print in question is to be found in the National Art Library is merely a co-incidence, to which Mr. Strange makes no allusion, which is not surprising; for he states distinctly that the collection has been made less with the view of satisfying the curiosity of the connoisseur than for its practical value to the student or designer. Indeed, it would hardly have been practicable, even if desirable, to make a more typical representation of the earlier schools, for their works in many cases are extremely scarce. The prints in the Library, we are told, however, are richer in colour than these hitter, and, "if they are inferior in absolute artistic merits, they are of inestimably greater utility for these reasons to the designer, the craftsman, and the student of the applied arts of Japan," who will find in them an endless variety of pattern and combination of colour, the hitter always in good taste and practicable; while "to the book illustrator, and especially the maker of posters, the collection offers a superb series of examples of the proper use of line in conjunction with masses of flat colour, of the effective placing of one or more figures in a panel, of a disposition of the lettering, signatures and seals, which is, as a rule, inevitably right; in short, of composition which always implies due correlation of the various elements of the picture."
As to the origin of colour printing in Japan, Mr. Strange has a theory of his own. The European art of so-called chiaroscuro engraving, he remarks, is in all essentials identical with that of Japanese colour printing; it was largely in vogue during the period of the Japanese embassy to Rome in 1583, and he thinks it may have suggested the process to the latter, who may have introduced it on their return home. As he gives no facts in support of this speculation, and admits that there was already in existence in China a process of printing in colours, we see no reason to doubt that the Japanese were indebted to the Celestial Kingdom for their first knowledge of this as of other arts in which they have subsequently excelled.
Tradition ascribes to Kiyonobu (1664-1729), the production of the first colour prints in the ordinary sense of the term. The National Library possesses some examples by this artist, but they are coloured by hand. According to an inscription on a print in the Library by Hoku-i, a pupil of the famous Hokusai (1760-1849), colour printing was invented at a much earlier date (1658-1660), but Mr. Strange asks us to bear in mind that Hoku-i was " only an artisan, and, though he had lived long enough to have come into touch with the beginnings of modern Japan, his story must not be given the same credit as would be awarded to that of a more educated man." As he observes, though, this document has " quite a particular interest in connection with the history of engraving." We would remark that it has no less interest in showing the antiquity of lithography; for can it be doubted that the reference to " stone-printing" and " impressions in reverse obtained with black grease " alludes to the art subsequently " discovered "independently by Senefelder, only about a hundred years ago ? The inscription on the print is as follows: -