JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS
destroy the simple charm seen in the prints of the Toriis and Katsugawas, and the best results were gained when the number did not exceed that used by Kiyonaga and Harunobu. The colours under these artists had become remarkably tender and harmonious, the technique of the printing had advanced, and the drawing still preserved the qualities displayed by Kiyonobu, and gained something in style. So far, gradations in printing, afterwards employed with good effect, were not used; but an uninked pressure block was sometimes brought into service either to give a damask surface to white drapery, or to produce an effect like that of impasto in the representation of the petals of a flower or the feathers of a bird, or for some similar purpose.
From about 1770 arose a new line, that of the Katsugawas. Its founder, Katsugawa Shunshō, deserves to be ranked with Torii Kiyonaga amongst the leaders of the popular school. He was a more vigorous but less elegant artist than Kiyonaga, and his works appear to have been more numerous and varied than those of any of his contemporaries. His reputation is founded chiefly upon his portraits of actors in character, but his drawings of women were as graceful as those of Utamaro, and less extravagant in their mannerisms. A fair example of his style is shown in Plate 3. His Seirō bijin awasé kagami (1776), a pictorial mirror of fair women, is perhaps the most beautiful album of colour prints that Japan has ever produced, and his collection of portraits of the hundred famous poets of Japan is also one of the treasures of the collector. A series of theatrical portraits printed in colours, entitled Kobi no Tsubo (1770), has more conventionality and less character than his other works, but is redeemed by the decorative effect of the colouring. This and the two preceding works may be seen in the British Museum Collection. The engraver of his principal works was Inoüyé Shinichiro.
Three pupils of Shunshō, named Shunjō, Shunko, and Shunyei, closely followed his style, and confined their labours almost wholly to portraits of actors and wrestlers. Of the others, Shunman, who studied under both Shunshō and Kitawo Shigémasa, was chiefly noted for illustrations to comic verselets and New Year’s cards; Shunchō, for prints of holiday scenes which are amongst the most delicate and pleasing of the broadsides of the end of the last century; Shunwō, for miscellaneous designs; Shuntei, for martial scenes; Gakutei, for New Year’s cards; and lastly