COLORFUL AND PICTURESQUE

Polychrome Woodblock Printed Books

Given the labor- and capital-intensive process of block cutting and color registration, it was not until the late 16th through 17th centuries that woodblock printed books in more than 2 colors became available. Among the early examples of multi-color printed books, the Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (1st print edition, 1633) and Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (1st print edition, 1679-1701) are the finest with regard to their artistic and aesthetic value. The Ten Bamboo Studio manual uses two unique techniques: assembled block printing (饾版) and hand-wiping overprinting (套印), resulting in a color gradation very similar to brush painting. These techniques were further developed by the Mustard Seed Garden (publisher) to achieve greater precision and variation of color registration as shown in the Mustard Seed Garden manual. Both works were designed by scholar-artists and produced by highly skilled craftsmen. They were regarded as sought-after Chinese painting handbooks, embodying the Chinese literati culture. As a result, they were reproduced and imitated first in Asia, and later in Europe and North America until the late 20th century. In particular, the motifs in these manuals, such as that of birds and flowers, were well received in Japan, as is shown in the Bairei Picture Album of One Hundred Birds and Keinen Picture Album of Birds and Flowers, both published in the late 19th century when lithography started to gain dominance over polychrome woodblock printing.

Chinese Painting Manuals:

十竹齋書畫譜<br />
清嘉慶二十二年(1817)秀水王概芥子園刻彩色套印本<br />
Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting<br />
Qing dynasty, Jiaqing 22 (1817)<br />

十竹齋書畫譜

清嘉慶二十二年(1817)秀水王概芥子園刻彩色套印本

Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting

Qing dynasty, Jiaqing 22 (1817)

Woodblock-printed book, ink and colors on paper, 9.7 x 5.8 in. (25 × 14 cm)

Special Collections & Libraries, The Claremont Colleges Library

芥子園畫傳<br />
初集 清康熙十八年(1679)芥子園甥館刻彩色套印本<br />
二、三集 清乾隆四十七年(1782)金閶書業堂刻彩色套印本<br />
四集 清嘉慶二十三年(1818)刻本<br />
Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting<br />
Qing dynasty, Kangxi 18 to Jiaqing 23, ca. 1679–1818<br />

芥子園畫傳

初集 清康熙十八年(1679)芥子園甥館刻彩色套印本

二、三集 清乾隆四十七年(1782)金閶書業堂刻彩色套印本

四集 清嘉慶二十三年(1818)刻本

Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting

Qing dynasty, Kangxi 18 to Jiaqing 23, ca. 1679–1818

Woodblock-printed book, ink and colors on paper, 8.7 × 5.6 in. (22 x 14 cm)

Special Collections & Libraries, The Claremont Colleges Library

Japanese Painting Manuals:

景年花鳥画譜<br />
Keinen Picture Album of Birds and Flowers<br />
Meiji 24-25 (1891-1892)<br />
<br />

景年花鳥画譜

Keinen Picture Album of Birds and Flowers

Meiji 24-25 (1891-1892)

Ink and color on paper, 15.7 x 8.3 in. (40 × 21.5 cm)

Special Collections & Libraries, The Claremont Colleges Library

梅嶺百鳥畫譜<br />
Bairei Picture Album of One Hundred Birds<br />
Meiji 38 (1905)<br />

梅嶺百鳥畫譜

Bairei Picture Album of One Hundred Birds

Meiji 38 (1905)

Ink and color on paper, 8.3 x 6.3 in. (21.5 x 16.1 cm)

Special Collections & Libraries, The Claremont Colleges Library