Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

a study of Japanese pictorial art, able, imposes the necessity on the Mr Anderson has been led to student of precision and accuracy. the irresistible conclusion that it In tracing the history of Japanis essentially Chinese in all its ese pictorial art, we have then to branches. This is the first fact go back to China, where we find, connected with the subject that it among the sculptured remains of is necessary should be constantly the later centuries before Christ, borne in mind, and the second prototypes of the earliest efforts of flows naturally from it-viz., that the Japanese to depict figures and drawing is a branch of caligraphy. landscapes. Considering the imThis last truth is the one with permanent nature of ordinary drawwhich every Chinese text-book on ings, and how very little is known drawing starts, and its accuracy of the art treasures which are prebecomes apparent when the con- served in private collections, it ditions of the caligraphic and pic- need not surprise us that nothing torial arts both in China and Japan of this period on less durable mateare examined and compared. In rial than stone has become known the first place, it must be remem- to Europeans. History tells us, bered that a large proportion of however, that on the revival of Chinese characters are of the na- literary culture at the establishture of hieroglyphics —we say of ment of the Han dynasty (B.C. the nature of hieroglyphics, be- 206), collections were made of the cause, though such as we speak of existing drawings, and buildings were originally pure hieroglyphics, were especially constructed for they have, through the course of their custody and preservation.

. ages, lost much of their pictorial On this followed a general renaischaracter, and that every school- sance not only of learning but also boy in both countries is trained of the national life. Communicafrom his earliest youth to draw tions were opened with foreign these with grace and accuracy. countries, and the influence of His eye becomes thus trained from foreign ideas became observable his infancy to observe and repro- in the literature and art of the duce on paper objects placed be- people. A series of very remarkfore him, while the brush with able sculptures of the second cenwhich he is taught to write is tury A.D., which have lately beespecially fitted to enable him to come known to us in Shantung, execute with ease the light, supple, show a very decided correlation of and lithesome strokes which are ideas with those current in Assyria necessary to the formation of and Egypt; and with the later inChinese characters. The position troduction of Buddhism came also in which the brush is held also- an influx of Indian art. It is perpendicularly between the second somewhat remarkable that the and third fingers, with the arm Buddhists, whose first article of supported by the elbow--gives a faith was a complete contempt for freedom and power which are un- the human form, should have been known in our use of the pen and the means, as they eventually bepencil. In these circumstances it came, of promulgating a style of is readily conceivable how slight is art in which the human figure the transition from writing a hiero- formed so prominent a feature as glyphic representing a horse, to in the earlier Buddhist pictures of sketching the outline of the living China and Japan. animal; while the fact that lines The movement thus begotten in drawn in Indian ink are ineras- the literary and artistic world of

China was not long in reaching boding of his approaching death. Japan. An apostle of painting in The melancholy thought, however, the person of one Nanriu visited only urged him

on in his labour, and the islands in the fifth century, strange perseverance that sustained

he worked unceasingly, with the same and so captivated the susceptible Mozart in the composition of his ReJapanese by his skill, that they quiem, until at length a few touches at once established an “Imperial only were needed for the completion Academy of Art," with a full staff of the ghastly subject; but with the of officials. The subsequent in- final strokes his overstrained energies troduction of Buddhism enriched collapsed, and the artist, brush in their knowledge by acquaintance omened masterpiece."

hand, fell dead in front of his illwith the Chinese Buddhistic school of drawing, which, like the earlier But the Japanese are too clever phase of the art, at once found a a people to follow in

every

detail home on their hospitable shores. for many generations the narrow But they did more than receive it and conventional style of any gladly; they improved upon it, and branch of Chinese art; and thus, so skilfully applied their artistic side by side with the school foundinstincts to it, that under their ed by Kanaoka, there grew up in influence the purely conventional the early part of the eleventh cenfigures of Boddhisatwas and Rishis tury a succession of artists who debecame living beings, with distinc- voted their brushes to the repretive features and attributes. The sentation of native scenes, and languor, however, which set in in incidents in the lives of famous China as regarded all matters of scholars, priests, and heroes. A culture, during the first years of comic element, the natural offthe seventh century, was reflected spring of the joyous character of in Japan by the decay of pictorial the people, showed itself in many art, which appears to require for of their drawings, which, so far its permanence in that country a as genial and unconstrained fun constant supply of inspiration from is concerned, will bear comparison the source of its being, and which with the most racy of the modern revived only two hundred years productions of Hokusai and his later, when the effect of the intel- school. This particular characterlectual vigour resulting from the istic of these men was taken up enlightened rule of the sovereigns and improved upon by a certain of the Chinese T'ang dynasty“ Toba Priest," who was both an gave new life to the masters of the artist and a wit, and who, throwbrush in Japan. Then it was that ing off the shreds of Chinese forKanaoka, whose name is revered by mality which clung to the new every Japanese connoisseur, paint school, produced a comparatively ed his masterpieces. And later national art. Mr Anderson gives again, Hirotaka, upon whose should- us several specimens of his style. ers his master's mantle fell, earned One represents an attenuated coolie a deserved reputation for his Bud- carrying a bottomless tub, who is dhist pictures. Among these the mistaken by two travellers for a most wonderful was one before revived corpse rearing its head which, when it was on the point above the perambulating coffin.

. of completion, the artist fell dead. The sight has so terrified the wayThe subject of the picture was the farers that they fall over each other tortures of the damned in Hades. in their attempt to escape. Though

“As the design progressed, he be- the figures are grotesque, they are came inspired by a mysterious fore- instinct with life, and their faces

a

are expressive of the most lively Sesshiu even made a voyage to astonishment and alarm.

China to inspect the works of the During the fourteenth and fif- old masters, and to familiarise teenth centuries the wonderful de- himself with the scenery which velopment of art which character- had inspired their brushes. It is ised the Sung and Yuen dynasties said of him, that when, as a lad, he of China produced a correspond- was placed under the instruction ing revival in Japan, and it was of a priest, he was so neglectful then that two great artists, Chō of his acolytic duties that his tuDensu and Josetsu, arose to re- tor on one occasion tied him as awaken in their countrymen that a punishment to a pillar of the naturally artistic taste which had temple. At the time for his rebeen allowed to become dormant. lease, the priest went to unbind Cho Densu, following his priest- him, and was startled to see ly instincts, devoted himself to number of rats at the boy's feet. representing Buddhist scenes and “ The good man ran to drive away sages. His skill in preserving the intruders, and found that they the religious bearing of the num- were pictures which the little artberless members of the Buddhist ist, using his toe for a pencil and Pantheon, at the same time that he his tears for ink, had drawn upon individualised each in a marked the floor.” After such a display and distinct manner, is nothing of his skill, it was obvious even short of marvellous ; while his ex- to his priestly preceptor that his cursions into the realms oi heter- natural home was in the studio odox faiths, such as Taoism for rather than in the cloister, and example, are signalised by the he was thenceforth allowed freely same vigour of treatment and orig- to follow the bent of his genius. inality of design. Josetsu, on the After having touched the source other hand, drank deeply at the of inspiration in China, he estabfount of Chinese arts—so deeply, lished according to Japanese noindeed, that doubts have been cast tions a school of painting, and on his nationality, and it has been produced himself a number of picsuggested that he was one of the tures which are more precious than Chinese immigrants who at this time rubies in the eyes of native conbrought their skill and learning to noisseurs. He commonly paintthe Land of the Rising Sun. At ed either in monochrome or in least, if he were not so, he succeed- ink outline, and landscapes were ed in becoming even more Chinese his favourite subjects. He was than the Chinese themselves; for possessed with an extraordinary not only were his landscapes the power of expressing in a few lines landscapes of China, but the fig- the features of a landscape, in ures he introduced into them were which distance and atmosphere those of China men and women. were suggested with vivid accu

Among Josetsu's reputed pupils racy. But in his finer and more were three notable geniuses,Shiu- elaborate works he was equally bun, Sesshiu, and Kano Masanobu, successful. A beautiful little whose names have been for three picture representing a weary travcenturies household words among eller leaning against a tree, while collectors in Japan, . and have his horse stands ready-saddled by lately become so among the con- his side, has been reproduced in fraternity in England, France, a Japanese album ; and for grace, and America. All three were suggestiveness, and feeling, it is ardent students of Chinese art, and unsurpassed. The native historians

a

tell us that Sesshiu always played original artists of Japan, and won an air on the flute before beginning a fame which would have been a picture, and that he died in 1507, better worth achieving had the at the ripe age of eighty-seven. time in which he lived not been His careful and powerful style of singularly barren in artistic talent. painting was worthily imitated by But in all he did, as well as in all some of his pupils, notably Shiu- the works of his fellow-Kanoists, getsu, an attributed specimen of the Chinese influence was parawhose work Mr Anderson gives mount. The subjects of their picus in the likeness of Vimalakirrti, tures were the sages, landscapes, an Indian priest. It is difficult divinities, animals, and flowers to know what to admire most in which we find produced over and this picture. The pose of the fig- over again in Chinese paintings. ure, the powerful delineation of But though originality of design the features, and the wonderful must thus be denied them, they harmony of the colouring, are all deserve unqualified praise for their equally excellent.

mastery over the caligraphic art, Sesshiu's fellow-student, Kano their unquestioned skill in the Masanobu, adopted a more cali- composition of their designs, and graphic style of art, and was fol. the harmonious splendour of their lowed in it by a number of dis- colouring. ciples, who, while preserving the While the Kanoists were thus traditions of Chinese design, gained reproducing Chinese landscapes the most extraordinary mastery in and figures with what would have the use of the brush. With a few been wearisome iteration, if it strokes they produced effects which were not that their genius introrival, if not surpass, 'the chefs- duced variation and added graces, d'auvre of the best Chinese art- there sprang up a number of artists, and they possessed the subtle ists, headed by one Matahei, and power of suggesting “colour in two generations later by Hishimonochrome and chiaroscuro with gawa Moronobu, who strove again out true shadow." Mr Anderson to interest their countrymen in reproduces several specimens of native scenes and surroundings. their skill, and amongst others the These men cut themselves free portrait of the Chinese magician from the well-worn subjects of Le T'iehkwai in the act of dismiss- the Chinese masters, and turned ing his spiritual self to the moun- to depicting the things of comtain of the immortals. This is a life which passed before favourite subject with Japanese their eyes. The new style readily artists, and it is instructive to found favour with the people, who compare this work of Kano Moto- were delighted to recognise their nobu with those of artists of the superstitious legends, the scenes so-called other schools. A later they were accustomed to see in follower of this school, by name their streets, and the incomparable Tanyu (died 1674), departed to a beauties of their native land, in great extent from the caligraphic the works of first-rate artists. It style of his associates, and adopted was during this period—the end of an impressionist manner, which, the sixteenth century—that the while extremely effective, laid him art of engraving, which had already open to the charge of apostasy been practised in China for more, from the school of Masanobu. He than a century, was first employed was one of the most prolific and to any extent by native artists.

mon

As with all other innovations “ Popular school ”; but when we adopted by the Jap inese, this one turn to his paintings of classical was no sooner brought into notice and purely Buddhist subjects, we than it became general ; and to it cannot fail to recognise that he we owe the dissemination of the was a disciple of every school, and art-treasures of the country, which a painter for every age.

Anothwithout it must have remained be- er artist associated by fame with yond the reach of all except a the same confraternity was Morichosen few. One of the most kuni, who earned his reputation famous artists of this “school”was mainly by illustrating story-books. Hanabusa Itcho, who rang the But beyond question the most prochanges on every subject of popu- lific and original painter of the lar interest-from the manners, “school” was Hokusai, who at customs, and, it must be added, the beginning of this century put failings of the Buddhist priesthood, new life into the fading glories of to the “vulgar amusements pro. his associates, and took the favour vided by the peripatetic showmen of his countrymen by storm. As and mountebanks in the streets Mr Anderson has well said — of the great cities. As an example

“ His works demonstra te not only of his style, M Anderson repro- the versatility and range of his arduces a sketch in which we see tistic genius, but convey a vivid im“a travelling priest, who, earnest in pression of his moral and intellec. belief, has prepared fire, pan, knife. tual qualities, of his keen but kindly and even seasoning, and lacking only powers of observation, wit untainted the meat, now extends his hands, roll- by malice, strongly marked individu. ing the beads of his rosary with holy ality free from self-consciousness, and fervour, towards a plump gocse that

an art-loving industry that never fies overhead. The bird, however, permitted him to save labour by reyearning not after the glory of marpetition or plagiarism, or to mar his tyrdom, wings its way unheeding, conceptions by carelessness of hand and leaves the good suppliant to la

or thought. He was a cyclopædia of ment the degeneracy of animal folk-lore and legend, and has left unworld since the days when Buddha touched few motives that were worthy was incarnate as the Pious Hare."

of his pencil.” As a comic painter Itcbo was It is not too much inimitable, and there exists in of him, that for dramatic force, the British Museum Collection an freshness of fancy, and skill as a engraving of a painting by him, colourist, he has few equals in the which is a masterpiece of vigorous long roll of Japanese artists. Mr fun, and in which a hawk is carry. Anderson reproduces one of his ing off a fish, while the owner with most notable pictures, in which every gesture of dismay and anger a mad woman, “ clad in tattered follows in pursuit. It is interest- finery, and happy in the delusion ing to compare this sketch with that she is a brilliant ornament of one representing the same subject the Imperial Court, parades the by Hokusai. In this comparison streets with mincing steps and the advantage is all on the side of affected gestures, apparently filling Itchō, who has thrown infinitely the part to her own entire satismore freedom and life into his faction, as well as to that of the portraiture than has been achieved little urchins who are bearing an by his successor.

old straw sandal above her head, It is in virtue of his painting; as a mocking emblem of a royal in these directions that Itcho is canopy.” Another work forms claimed as a disciple of the so-called one of the collection of his en

to say

a

« PoprzedniaDalej »