The inscription in the cartouche states: “After having destroyed and conquered the enemy at Montianling (Fort), and while pushing forward towards the “Hundred-Foot Cliff” near Weihaiwei, the battalion commander of the Sixth Brigade, Captain Higuchi found an abandoned Chinese infant on the ground crying. Taking pity on the child and worried that the child might freeze to death, he picked up the child and continued to advance. Unexpectedly, Higuchi ran into the enemy and realised that he had to fight. He then embraced the child with his left arm and raised his sword with his right arm., leading his men. Afterwards he gave the child to a Chinese prisoner, who returned him to his parents. The passage ends with the message , “In general (these actions) exemplify the spirit of our brave and virtuous soldiers.” The artist Mitiga Toshihide also depicted this scene.
Here Captain Higuchi clasps the child to his shoulder as he urges his men forward, directing them ahead with his blade as he mounts a snowy hill, Japanese troops follow behind him as orange shots streak across the wintry grey sky.
Every artistic element serves the narrative purpose. The posture of the figures and their positions carry an inspirational message as Higuchi and his men strive upward while they move forward in battle. Both by placement and colour, the officer and child dominate the composition.
Terrific detail in the carefully rendered military uniforms and weapons, with hand-applied white pigment to indicate falling snow.
Collections : Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
References : Illustrated in the 1991 Worcester Art Museum Catalogue “In Battles Light”, Catalogue number 45. p.80.
Illustrated in the 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication “Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age”, Catalogue number 54, p.102.
Illustrated in the 2008 paper Throwing Off Asia II: woodblock prints of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) by John W. Dower – Chapter One, “Prints & Propaganda”.p.1-11.