Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/370

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170

JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

Method of Drawing," signed Taito, published with the assistance of his pupils. In this work Hirata, the author of the text, remarks: "Hokusai is incomparable. While all his predecessors were more or less the slaves of classical traditions and acquired rules, he alone emancipated his brush from all such fetters, and drew according to the dictates of his heart. Whatever it be that his eyes, devoted to nature, absorb into themselves, he works it out with severity and precision." 1820, Hokusai sogwa "Rough Drawings," Yedo, in black and white. Lastly, 1823, the Ippitsu gwafu, sketches with a single stroke of the brush, slight colouring, medium size. He also produced a series of extremely vivacious caricatures, in a small oblong format, which are printed in two different greys and a flesh tint, and therefore probably belong to the same period as the Hundred Views of Fuji. His deep blue prints are especially delicate. In 1848 there appeared the Yehon Saishikitsui, a treatise on colouring, in two volumes; Hokusai promised a third, but was not able to finish it.

To the time of his chief activity as a teacher probably belong his gigantic paintings, which he was in the habit of executing to astonish his admirers. In the celebrated epilogue to the first volume of his Hundred Views of Fuji, 1834, he speaks of his own artistic development, saying that as early as his sixth year he felt the impulse to draw the forms of things; when he was about fifty years old he had already published innumerable sketches, but was dissatisfied with all that he produced before his seventieth year (1830). It was not until the age of seventy-three that he began to comprehend approximately the true form and nature of birds, fishes, and plants; consequently he hoped to make great progress after the age of eighty, and at the age of ninety to penetrate into the essential being of all things. Then with one hundred years he would surely attain to a higher and indescribable state, and when he should have reached the age of one hundred and