Street of Pink Lanterns

Street of Pink Lanterns by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 66. Crossing a small bridge, the road, which seems so broad in the foreground, recedes into the distance between the fronts of buildings with their hanging lanterns. It is partly an exercise in perspective, and within that exercise the most striking element here is the apparent breadth of the road in the foreground. A waste of space? Yet it rests the eye before focusing it on the avenue of lanterns ahead. Menpes says much earlier in the book that we westerners "sacrifice breadth in the vain endeavour to gain what we propose to call strength — strength is sharp; but breadth is quiet and full of reserve. None understands this simple truth so well as the Japanese. It forms the very basis of oriental philosophy, and through the true perception of it they have attained to those ideas of balance which are so eminent a characteristic of Japanese art" (6)

Jacqueline Banerjee

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Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 25 June 2019.

Created 25 June 2019