The first edition of this work (abbreviated drawings of birds and beasts), by Kitao Masayoshi (1764-1824) was printed in 1719, but this 1813 edition is still a superb impression (never judge a book by its cover!)
A pupil of Kitao Shigemasa, and later Kano Yosen’in Korenobu, Masayoshi worked as an ukiyoe artist under the name Kitao Masayoshi. He then became official painter to the daimyo of Tsuyama and worked in the Kano style using the name Kuwagata Keisai.
After 1794, however, when he became painter in attendance to the Tsuyama fief, he switched mainly to paintings and printed albums. He was a pioneer of a new style of drawing manual called ryakugashiki, which marked an important point in the development of this style of illustration and he strove, in his work, to simplify forms and capture the spirit of the animals he was depicting.
The sketches of birds and animals, printed in six colours, show aspiring artists, amateur and professional alike, how to capture their various shapes with the greatest economy of line.
Masayoshi, departing from the normal repertory of ukiyoe, created a number of similar drawing books, all of which became extremely popular in the nineteenth century.
The volume has been digitised and you can view it here.
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