ADVANTAGE has been taken by the passing out of print of the author's Japanese Colour-Prints and the Subjects they Illustrate, published in 1920, to revise thoroughly the contents of that volume, rather than merely reprint it, and at the same time to add considerably to the existing matter therein and also to include much entirely fresh information, which it was intended originally to issue in a companion volume to it.
This volume, therefore, is much more than a second edition of the above book; it is virtually a new work, dealing with Japanese Prints in the most comprehensive form possible within the limits of a single book, constituting a catalogue raisonne of all the most notable prints of Ukiyoye produced during the polychrome period.
The author has endeavoured to make the subject as interesting as possible, rather than write an academic monograph; to produce a book which shall be useful to the requirements of the novice and amateur as well as to those of the advanced collector.
Many people collect these colour-prints for the attraction of their pure beauty, but have only a slight acquaintance with the scene or subject they illustrate, or the meaning which the artists desire to convey.
Japanese colour-prints should not be collected solely as works of art; an intelligent study of the subjects and scenes they illustrate will tell us more of the life, history, and character of Japan in the days when it was a closed book to the rest of the world, than any number of pages of print.
To assist the collector in this respect and to increase the interest to him of his own and other collections is the main object of the writer. That collectors have desired a book of this nature rather than profound and ingenious theorizing is evinced by the warm reception of the author's previous volume, both in the United Kingdom and in America, and the marks of appreciation which he has received both personally and by correspondence, and for which he tenders his sincere thanks.
His thanks are due to Messrs. Sotheby for permission to use illustrations from their sale catalogues for reproduction in this volume; to Mr. Henry Bergen for the loan of prints, and particularly to Mr. Shozo Kato, who throughout has shown great personal interest in the preparation of this volume, by the loan of prints and in other ways materially assisting the writer by placing at his service his intimate knowledge of the art, literature, and language of Japan.