The text reads: “Advancing, he takes a stronghold by storm. Retreating, he takes care of his soldiers. Brave general of the Sakunei branch. Be it a village with bright blossoms or be it a hazy moonlight night, he sleeps peacefully under a pine tree, taking his own life lightly.”
In the first Manchurian campaign of late October 1894, Major General Tatsumi Naobumi’s (1845-1907) detachment took and held the city of Fenhuangcheng, which they entered on 31 October. Tatsumi acquitted fame for his sudden appearances and disappearances in the middle of an attack. Here he sleeps under a tree while the battle takes place behind him. The two soldiers who turn toward the General appear to be astonished that he is able to nap in the midst of battle.
Intriguing scene from the Sino-Japanese War of Major General Tatsumi taking a nap under a pine tree. The general sleeps peacefully while at far right, an officer on horseback watches shells exploding in the distance. The general wears a beautifully detailed uniform, the jacket trimmed with braid and adorned with medals. He has spurs attached to his polished boots, and a binoculars case around his chest. Beautifully composed and drawn, with lovely gradations of soft grey, and burnishing on the black uniform and boots.
Toshikata’s composition is deeply rooted in Japanese painting and in the mid nineteenth century printed triptychs of Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. The anecdotal nature of this print is characteristic of the artist’s style.
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 14. p.41.
Illustrated in the 2008 paper Throwing Off Asia II: woodblock prints of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) by John W. Dower – Chapter Four, “Symbolic China”. p.5-7.