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The Great Battle of the Ansong Ford: The Valor of Captain Matsuzaki Crossing Anjō

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Great Battle of the Ansong Ford:

The Valor of Captain Matsuzaki Crossing Anjō

by Mizuno Toshikata, 1894



IHL Cat. #168

About This Print

Source: In Battle's Light: Woodblock Prints of Japan's Early Modern Wars, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Worcester Art Museum, 1991, p. 74.
In the battle of Asan, south of Seoul, Captain Matsuzaki Naomi led his men across the deep Ansong River on July 29, 1894 to attack the enemy on the other side.  He was hit, but urged his men forward, until he was killed by a second bullet.  It was not the gallant officer, however, but his bugler Shirakami Genjiro1, who died blowing the charge, who became the first national hero of the campaign.

Toshikata includes all the details that convey the samurai spirit of the modern warrior.  Advancing under heavy fire, undaunted by personal danger, Matsuzaki charged ahead of his men.  The nighttime sky, lit by a crescent moon, heightens the pathos of the hero's bravery and death.  (For a similar print by Toshikata see Captain Matsuzaki Crossing the Anjō-sen.)

1 The press incorrectly reported the bugler's name as Shirakami Genjiro. His real name was Kiguchi Kohei.

The Predictable Pose of the Hero

Source:  MIT Visualizing Cultures website  “Throwing Off Asia: Woodblock Prints of the Sino-Japanese War” by John W. Dower
http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/throwing_off_asia_02/toa_essay01.html

Although prints of the Sino-Japanese War purported to depict actual battles and the exploits of real-life officers and enlisted men, the “Hero” almost invariably struck a familiar pose—like a traditional Kabuki actor playing a modern-day warrior. Officers in austere Western-style uniforms brandished swords (the counterpart for enlisted men was the bayonet). Their posture was resolute, their discipline obvious, their will transparently unshakable.

Toshikata himself introduced virtually the identical hero under many different—and always real—names in his war prints. (His Japanese fighting men almost always were in movement from right to left, as if the print were a map and the viewer eye-witness to Japan’s westward advance onto the continent.) Toshikata’s archetypical hero appeared, for example,  as “Lieutenant Commander Sakamoto” on the warship Akagi; as “the skillful Harada Jūkichi” in the attack on Hyonmu Gate (the sword here turned into a bayonet); as “Captain Matsuzaki” in the battle of Ansong Ford; and as “Captain Higuchi” in a near mythic battle at the “Hundred-Foot Cliff” near Weihaiwei.
 

The Real Captain Matsuzaki

安城で戦死した松崎大尉(松崎直臣)
(Captain Matsusaki, killed at An-song)
Overseas Images of Japan Database - 
International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan


Print Details
 IHL Catalog
 #168
 Title or Description The Great Battle of the Ansong Ford: The Valor of Captain Matsuzaki Crossing Anjō or Captain Matsuzaki Fighting at An-ch'eng
(Anjō-watashi daigekisen Matsuzaki Taii yūmō 安城渡大激戦松崎大尉勇猛)
 Artist  Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908)
 Signature  Motome ni ojite  (by request) Toshikata e.
 Seal  Toshikata
 Publication Date  August 1894 (Meiji 27)
 Publisher  秋山武右門 (秋山武右衛門) Akiyama Buemon
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Collection good - light foxing throughout; trimmed but not into image with left border writing intact; two vertical folds near, but not on, joining seams; backed
 Genre  ukiyo-e - senso-e (Sino-Japanese War); Meiji era
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 14 1/4 x 28 3/8 in. (36.2 x 72.1 cm)
 Literature
 In Battle's Light: Woodblock Prints of Japan's Early Modern Wars, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Worcester Art Museum, 1991, p. 74, pl. 40; Japan Awakens: Woodblock Prints of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Barry Till, Pomegranate Communications, Inc., 2008, p. 103
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 65.417a-c, 2000.115a-c and 2000.436a-c; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 2004.026.059; Harvard University Museums 1944.25.1, .2, .3; The British Museum 1941,1010,0.1.1-3; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1999.75a-; Honolulu Academy of Art 2397; Östasiatiska musee OM-1994-0027; British Library shelfmark: 16126.d.3(30)
last revised:

11/10/2018
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