Condition : Excellent colour and detail. Three separate panels. Slight soiling, a few small spots and stains.
Dramatic illustration of the Great Battle at Gaiping, during the Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese attack the enemy earthworks, rushingover the top and battling with guns and swords. In the centre, an officer kneels atop a Chinese soldier, grabbing him by his pigtail as he draws his sword back. Another officer lunges towards a man carrying the Chinese flag, taking hold of the flagpole and sending the bearer tumbling backwards. At right, a long line of Japanese troops disappears across the landscape.
The Second Army attacked Gaiping on January 10, 1895. After four hours of exchanging artillery fire, the Chinese fell back under a heavy infantry charge. Nakagawa recreates the thrust of the charge and the fury of battle by making all the lines in the composition converge in the centre sheet, where he places the kneeling officer and his Chinese prisoner. Nakagawa clearly had some exposure to yōga (Meiji Western-style painting), for his principal figures demonstrate his mastery of foreshortening, perspectival drawing, and three-dimensional form. They are not integrated into the setting, however, and seem to be performers on a shallow stage.Excerpt from the 1991 Worcester Art Museum publication “In Battles Light”, Catalogue number 26. p.55.
After Port Arthur was conquered, a detachment from the Second Army was sent to attack Kaiping and to threaten the enemy near Haicheng, which the Japanese First Army was having difficulties holding. There were reportedly four thousand Chinese troops at Kaiping. Under Major-General Nogi Maresuke, the Second Army forces attacked on 10 January, 1895.
The battle was described as follows:
“The attack was made at dawn, but the deep snow rendered military movements, especially the bringing up of guns, a matter of great difficulty. The Chinese had twelve field pieces and two gatlings, which were well handled. The fight lasted four hours and consisted mainly of the exchange of shots and shells until the Japanese took a position on the Chinese flank. Under heavy fire of an infantry charge, the Chinese fell back.”
*By 9:30am, Kaiping had fallen. The Japanese suffered forty-five deaths, including several officers, and two hundred fifty-five injuries. It was General Nogi who later led the attack on Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War, in which he lost his two sons. He became the ideal loyal subject when he committed suicide, following Emperor Meiji in death. * Kubota Beisen, Nisshin sentō gahō (Tokyo), vol. 8 May 1895), pp.12-13.
Collections : Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
References : Illustrated in the 1983 catalogue Impressions from the Front by Shumpei Okamoto”,
catalogue no: 60, page 38