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Illustration of The Imperial Assembly of the House of Peers

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Illustration of The Imperial Assembly

of the House of Peers

by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1890

Illustration of the Celebration of the Silver Wedding Anniversary

IHL Cat. #1515

About This Print

Picturing a meeting of the Imperial Diet's House of Peers, the upper house of the Imperial Diet consisting of appointed high-ranking nobles, this print was published in September 1890, two months before the actual first meeting of the House of Peers (貴族院 Kizoku-in) on November 29, 1890.  This type of portrayal of future events was not unusual, as the Meiji government encouraged publishers to "introduce the public to this new institution [a European-style parliament] and its members."1 This print is similar to several others that depicted what the future House of Peers would look like, so the government may have provided access or at least renderings of the future meeting chambers. (For an example of a similar looking print by the artist Watanabe Nobukazu see below.) The five small yellow cartouches in the right side of the print identify the audience [bōchōnin 傍聽人 (傍聴人)], seated in the balcony and behind the peers; the cabinet ministers [各大臣 kaku daijin], the secretary for the House of Peers [書記官 shokikan) and the President of the House of Peers [議長 gichō].  

Not called out on the print, but pictured, is the Empress, with her attendants in the balcony on the left, and the Emperor, sitting on the dais. 

The first President of the House of Peers was the statesman Itō Hirobumi 伊藤博文, who accepted the position under the urging of the Emperor with an understanding the could resign after the first year, which he did, serving until July 20, 1891.

The Japanese Parliament, 1890
大日本国会議事
Watanabe Nobukazu (1872-1944)

The Meiji Constitution
The Meiji Constitution was adopted on February 11, 1889 and the Imperial Diet first met on November 29, 1890 when the document entered into operation. The Diet consisted of a House of Representatives and a House of Peers. The House of Representatives was directly elected, if on a limited franchise; universal adult male suffrage was introduced in 1925. The House of Peers, much like the British House of Lords, consisted of high-ranking nobles.

Also see the article Prints of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Haruko.

1 Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age – Woodblock Prints from the Meiji Era, Louise E. Virgin, Donald Keene, et. al., MFA Publications, 2001, p. 60.

PowerPoint Presentation Notes from 1-31-2017 Presentation

 Illustration of the Imperial Assembly of the House of Peers, September 1890

Picturing a meeting of the Imperial Diet's House of Peers, consisting of appointed high-ranking nobles, this print was published in September 1890, two months before the actual first meeting on November 29, 1890. Portrayal of future events was not unusual, and the Meiji government encouraged publishers to "introduce the public to this new institution and its members."

The five small yellow cartouches in the right side of the print identify those present as: the "audience" (seated in the balcony and behind the peers); the cabinet ministers, the secretary for the House of Peers and the President of the House of Peers.  . Not called out on the print, but pictured, is the empress with her attendants in the balcony on the left, and the emperor, sitting on the dais. 


Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #1515
 Title or Description Illustration of The Imperial Assembly of the House of Peers
 帝国議会貴族院之図 Teikoku gikai kizokuin no zu
 Series
 Artist Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912)
 Signature
Y楊洲周延 Yōshū Chikanobu hitsu
 Seal not sealed
 Publication Date August 21, 1890
 Printed: Meiji 23 eighth month 21st day 明治二十三八月廿一日印刷
 Publication: Meiji 23 ninth month 明治二十三九月  日出版
 Publisher
綱島亀吉版 Tsunajima Kamekichi (Tsujiokaya Kamekichi)
[Marks: pub. ref. 549; seal not shown]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good – 3 unbacked sheets joined together; two full length vertical folds; ink offsetting on right and center panels
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous  
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 9/16 x 28 3/8 in. (37 x 72.1 cm) 
 H x W Image 14 1/8 x 28 in. (35.9 x 71.1 cm)
 Literature 
 
 Collections This Print
 Metropolitan Museum of Art JP3422Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas 2002.0126.a,b,c
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