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Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847 - 1915)

Lot 103: Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)


September 22, 2005
New York, NY, US

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Twelve triptychs and two sheets of another, most signed Kiyochika; Onoguchi Tokuji shi sai suru Kinshu jomon o yaburu no zu (Private Onoguchi Tokuji at the gate of Jinzhou Fortress), [1895], signed and sealed Kiyochika; Waga hei taisho no zu (Our troops in a great victory), top of title trimmed, [1895]; Waga yasen hohei Kyurenjo bakuei kogei (Japanese field artillery firing at Jiuliancheng), 1894.11; Kaiyojima oki daikaisen tasogare dai shori no zu (Great victory in the naval battle at dusk, Kaiyojima); Heijo kogeki denki shio no zu (Using a spotlight during the attack on Pyonyang), 1894; Untitled naval battle, 1895; Ryojin koko Hatsuse funto no zu (Battleship Hatsuse at the entrance to the harbor of Port Arthur), 1894; Japan and Russia negotiating over Manchuria; Wagagun Ryukojima o senryo suru no zu (Our troops take Liu-kung Island), [1895]; Tekigun ryodan ichidai meiyo no sento (Honorable victory of our troops over the enemy); Ryogunko gekka no kogeki (Moonlight attack, Port Arthur), 1894; Ikaiei joriku shingun no zu (Landing advance at Weihaiwei), [1895]; two sheets of a triptych--generally good impressions and color, soiled, stained, creased, damages, some trimmed
oban tate-e (38)

Artist or Maker

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)


The Art of Propaganda: Japanese battle triptychs

Japan and China fought the first Sino-Japanese War during 1894 and 1895, primarily over control of Korea. Although brief in duration, lasting from August 1894 until May 1895, the war galvanized the Japanese with patriotic fervor and a thirst for territorial expansion. A succession of quick and easy victories proved the clear-cut superiority of Japan's military forces. Woodblock-print artists, benefiting from an insatiable public demand for news from the front, did much to reinforce the ugly chauvinistic perception of China as backward and primitive, populated by a cowardly and ignoble species. Kobayashi Kiyochika produced more than 80 triptychs for the Sino-Japanese War.

The Japanese victory at Pyongyang in northern Korea on September 16, 1894 cleared the Chinese troops out of Korea and was followed by the important naval battle in the Yellow Sea (September 17), in which the Chinese suffered heavy losses. On October 26, the Japanese put down a pontoon bridge across the Yalu River and captured Jiuliancheng on the Chinese side of the river, an early victory in the Manchurian campaign. On November 21 they also captured Port Arthur by attacking from the landward side. Approaching Weihaiwei on the Shandong Peninsula, where the northern fleet of the Chinese navy was concentrated, the Japanese met fierce resistance at the strongly fortified Liu-kung Island. The town of Weihaiwei, however, was deserted by the Chinese and was occupied by the invaders on February 2, 1895. Intense cold, snow and ice numbed the Japanese troops. The Chinese admiral surrendered to the Japanese flagship, the Matsushima, on February 12th. Toward the end of March Japanese troops siezed the Pescadores Islands near Taiwan. The Treaty of Shimonoseki ending the war was signed on April 17, 1895. China recognized the independence of Korea, and ceded the Liaotung peninsula (modern Lianing Province), the islands of Taiwan and the Pescadores to Japan.

The outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 once again raised the demand for triptychs, this time exploiting popular anti-Russian sentiment; Kiyochika's output in 1904 and 1905 included 18 triptychs and several sets of single-sheet comic prints. The war began on February 8, 1904, when the Japanese launched their surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur and then landed troops to drive the Russians out of Korea, a humiliating defeat that assured Japan's position as a world power.

For further reading see Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, In Battle's Light: Woodblock Prints from Japan's Early Modern Wars, exh. cat. (Worcester Art Museum, 1991).

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Japanese and Korean Art

September 22, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US