Page:Japanese Wood Engravings.djvu/37

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JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS

townsmen whose passions and sentiments he could sway at will, and upon whose memory he engraved the noblest traditions of the past might regret his death or retirement as a public calamity, but there were few of them who would not have regarded any family alliance with him otherwise than as a degradation. As for the military class and nobles, every man of gentle birth who respected himself and his order, either avoided the theatre or yielded to the indulgence in secret. The player then was necessarily compelled to look for artistic service to a caste nearer his own than

Japanese Wood Engravings-1895-039.jpg

Fig. 11.—Girls Sketching. From a wood engraving after Nishigawa Sukénobu in the É-hon Tama Kadzura (1736).

were the painters of the aristocratic Tosa and Kano Academies, and he proved a tempting subject for the new set of artisan designers; for although a few artists of the popular school consistently avoided stage subjects, there were many, and of the most able, who were ready to devote their best energy and talents to the perpetuation of the features of the Garricks and Listons of their day.

The broadside designers also devoted some attention to the wrestler, who was a favourite caterer for the amusement of the public, but their