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Congratulations on Maritime Security for All Eternity


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Congratulations on Maritime Security for All Eternity

by Kawanabe Kyosai, 1863

IHL Cat. #212

About This Print

This print depicts the return of Shogun Iemochi to Edo from Kyoto on the battleship Jundô-maru which is being protected by various deities.

Source: Demon of Painting: the Art of Kawanabe Kyōsai, Timothy Clark, British Museum Press, 1993, p. 114
In the spring of 1863, Shogun Iemochi (ruled 1858 – 66) was ordered to Kyoto to confer with the court on how and when the ‘foreign barbarians’ should be expelled from the country.  This was the first time in more than 100 years that the shogun had been summoned by the court in this way and was a high point of influence of the ‘revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians’ (sonnô jôi) faction.  Iemochi left Edo with a huge retinue on the thirteenth day of the second month, and arrived at Nijô Castle in Kyoto on the fourth day of the following month.

Kyôsai, like most inhabitants of Edo, would have wished the shogun success in his political mission, upon which rested the future economic prosperity of the city.  In the seventh month, 1863, he designed a triptych showing deities protecting the return of the Shogun to Edo in the battleship Jundô-maru, an event that had occurred the previous month.

Commemorating the Occasion

Source: "Kawanabe Kyosai and Toyohara Kunichika," by Shigeru Oikawa appearing in Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900), by Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 1999, p. 39. 
While this print depicts the return of the Shogun from Kyoto back to Edo after his meeting with Emperor Komei (1831-1867), it was the Shogun's trip to Kyoto that was most portrayed in woodblock prints.  At least thirteen artists, including Kyosai, were commissioned by approximately sixteen publishers to design prints commemorating the occasion.  Kyosai alone designed twenty-eight prints for the series.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description  Congratulations on maritime security for all eternity!1 (Kaijō anzen bandai kotobuki)  海上安全万代寿 or 海上安全萬代寿
 Artist  Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Signature  Ôju Kunimaro [Artists would occasionally announce a requested design by placing oju ("by special request") before their signatures.] Motome ni ōjite Chikamaro
 Seal  Censor's Seal aratame, i, shichi
 Publication Date  1863 (Bunkyu 3), 7th month
 Publisher  Daikokuya Kinnosuke and Kinjirō
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 good - full size separate panels; unbacked; minor wrinkling throughout; some staining on center of center panel and right portion of right panel.
 Genre  ukiyo-e - Edo era (1603-1868)
 Format  vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 3/8 in. (35.6 x 23.8 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.36777a-c; Waseda University Request Number:chi5 3975; The British Museum 1907,0531,0.642.1-3; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-1868, 1869, 1870
 Reference Literature
 Demon of Painting: the Art of Kawanabe Kyōsai, Timothy Clark, British Museum Press, 1993, p. 114, fig. 73.1

1English title supplied by Quintana Heathman, Research Assistant for Japanese Print Exhibitions Museum of Fine Arts, Boston