Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/15

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The first comprehensive survey of Japanese Wood-Engraving, Anderson's monograph in the Portfolio, appeared in 1895. The first attempt to write a history of this art was Strange's totally inadequate Japanese Illustration of 1897. Unfortunately, Strange had published before he was able to take advantage of the new light thrown upon his subject by Fenollosa, in his illuminating Catalogue of 1896, The Masters of Ukiyoye. The only remaining sources of information for the student were a number of scattered articles, monographs, exhibition catalogues, and sale catalogues, and it seemed to me that I might do a useful work by gathering together all this disjointed learning into a coherent whole. Japanese art has become an element in our European culture; it supplies certain needs of our age, and makes distinctly for its progress. But in order to appreciate Japanese Wood-Engraving to the full, we must know the interrelation between the various artists, and the successive stages of development in their art; we also require a criterion by which to test individual essays, that we may not rest content with weak and imitative work when the best is within reach. A survey of Japanese Wood-Engraving which would serve these ends was the task I accordingly set before me.

In any appreciation of Japanese art, everything depends on the standpoint adopted by the critic. If, as the majority of writers on this subject have been wont to do, we apply the European standard, we shall be led to hail the impressionistic artists of the nineteenth century, and notably Hokusai, as the protagonists of Japanese Wood-Engraving, for we are naturally