Sino-Japanese War 1894-95: Capture of Wei hai wei, 18 January - 12 February 1895
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A possible depiction of Second Army Lieutenant General Sakuma Samata (1844-1915) in the storm of 1 February, 1895. Kiyochika effectively renders his foot soldiers as an even line of figures with rounded grey hoods and contrasting dark belts and bayonets gradually fading into the thick mist. The breath of the general’s blanketed horse and the officer’s snow-covered coats blown by the wind indicate the miserable conditions the Japanese army had to overcome.

In addition to the human drama commemorated in these prints, the severe weather conditions met in the Weihaiwei campaign permitted both artist and printer to indulge in virtuoso effects. The falling snow. The grey and lavender tones, and the realistic detail of the horse’s frozen breath demonstrate the skill with which the Meiji printer captured the designer’s intent.
The viewer must remind oneself that the effects achieved are created with woodblocks and not with the painter’s brush.

“ Through-out the Wei-Hai-Wei campaigne, the ice, frost and snow kept close to the men, and if they did not suffer as much as should have been expected, it was due to the efficient competence of the Japanese in atttendance which provided the men with warm clothing, just as it was done during the freezing Manchurian second campaign. Here we see the men stiffened by the sharp cold (for once, Kiypchika did capture the actual facts – and no more wooden Indians here). Those of us who have known the falling out for roll-call in the small hours, can feel compassion for those sturdy men.” Nathan Chaikïn from the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War”.

Collections: The Worcester Art Museum.
Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

References: Illustrated in the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn”, catalogue number 82.  p.193.
Illustrated in the 1991 Worcester Art Museum publication “In Battles Light”, Catalogue number 21, p.48.

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