A wonderful grey distance

Sidney Colvin could not remember what the Japanese prints were which he had been sending to RLS at his wish, but he said they sounded like specimens of the Japanese artists Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Kuniyoshi (1798-1861). The taste for these things is then quite new and has laid hold on RLS strongly.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 327].

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, pp. 97-98]

[Edinburgh, October 24?, 1874.]

My dear Colvin,

Thank you, and God bless you for ever: this is a far better lot than the last; I have chosen four complete sets out of it for setting, quite admirable: the others are not quite one’s taste; I find the colour far from always being agreeable, it is a great toss up. They have sent me duplicates of first a mad little scene with a white horse, a red monarch and a blue arm of the sea in it;

Japanese Woodblock Print, Original Meiji era (1868-1912), Battle of Kawanakajima [http://www.fujiarts.com/]

and second of a night scene with water, flowers and a black and white umbrella and a wonderful grey distance and a wonderful general effect – one of my best in fact. […]

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), ‘Black hood’ [http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/]

Ichiryusai Hiroshige (1797-1858), Scene of meeting [http://www.japaneseprints-london.com/]

Ukiyo-e print [http://www.steffichfineart.com/]

Do not now force yourself to make any more purchases for me; but if ever you see a thing you would like to lecture off, remember I am the person who is ready to buy it and let you have the use of it: keep this in view always.

I am working very hard (for me) and am very happy over my picters. Good-bye, mon vieux. – Ever yours,

Robert Louis Stevenson

P.S. – In fact if ever you see anything exceptionally fine, purchase for R.L.S. I owe you lots of money besides this, don’t I? John Knox is red and sparkling on the anvil and the hammer goes about six hours on him.



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