Panoramic view of the naval battle off Takushan during the Sino-Japanese War, showing the Japanese Imperial fleet fighting a pitched battle against the Chinese, with several enemy ships in flames. At far left, a Chinese vessel begins to sink beneath the waves as clouds of smoke and flames billow into the sky. Near the bottom centre, desperate Chinese sailors cling to the masts of their ship, the only parts still visible above the choppy water. Several small Japanese gunboats can be seen on the water amongst the larger warships.
Japan’s victory in the battle of the Yellow Sea, also known as the naval battle off Takushan or the battle of Haiyangtao, gave Japan control of the Yellow Sea. The Japanese Combined Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Ito Sukeyuki, led by the flagship Matsushima, consisted of twelve warships with total tonnage of 35,700 tons and speed range of thirteen to twenty-two knots. The Chinese Peiyang, or Northern Fleet, consisting of fourteen warships, including the flagship Tingyuen, had total tonnage of 34,400 tons and speed range of eleven to eighteen knots. Each more than 7,000 tons, the Tingyuen and the Chenyuen were both solid ironclads, the largest in the Orient. The Chinese had ten more heavy guns, but the Japanese had seventy-six rapid-firing guns compared to only six on the Chinese side. Both were accompanied by torpedo boats. On 17 September, 1894,
After five hours of battle, the Chinese Peiyang Fleet lost the Chingyuen, the Chihyuen and the Chaoyung. The Yangwei and the Kuang-chia were severely damaged and other ships were slightly damaged. Seven hundred Chinese died and three were wounded. Both ironclads were damaged but managed to retreat to Port Arthur that night. No Japanese ships were lost but their flagship was heavily damaged, and many crew members were killed. The Hiei, the Akagai, and the Saikyō-maru were also damaged. The Japanese were left with one hundred fifteen dead and more than one hundred wounded.
This six panel print allowed people in Japan to see warships in action, learn the names of the Japanese and Chinese ships, and read a description of battle highlights. As in nearly all prints depicting the Battle of the Yellow Sea, the Japanese ships are rendered in white and the Chinese in black.
British Library (4th, 5th and 6th panels).
Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
References : Illustrated in the 1983 Philadelphia Museum of Art publication “Impressions of the Front by Shumpei Okamoto”, p.25. Catalogue Number 21.
Illustrated in the 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication “Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age”, Catalogue number 32, pp.78,79.
Illustrated in the 1977 Kodansha publication, First Sino-Japanese War Nishikie Chronicle (Ukiyo-e, 1894-95), pp.46-47.