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Sino-Japanese War: Japanese Military Might Captures Pyongyang

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Sino-Japanese War:

Japanese Military Might Captures Pyongyang

by Ogata Gekkō, 1894


IHL Cat. #544

About This Print

Source: Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery website http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=S1999.55a-c
"Ogata Gekko, a leading print designer and illustrator, here describes a scene in which Japanese soldiers have captured several Chinese soldiers in the foreground. One has just been pushed over the edge of the wall on the roof of a building they were defending. In the distance, a fierce battle rages, giving rise to billowing smoke and the orange streaks of gunfire."

The Capture of Pyongyang

In late July 1894, Japan began military operations in Korea against China, which had established itself as Korea's suzerain in 1860.  Within a month Pyongyang was China's last position held in Korea and by September 16 they had lost this city to a Japanese assault.

Source: Impressions of the Front: Woodcuts of the Sino-Japanese War, Shunpei Okamoto, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1983, p. 13.
The Japanese began a full assault on September 15.  The Chinese defense lacked coordinated leadership and organization and the troops lacked training and good morale.  As the enemy neared, the Chinese supreme commander (General Yeh Chih-ch'ao ) proposed a retreat north to the Yalu River without fighting.  As soon as Japanese troops penetrated one of the city gates, the supreme commander hoisted a surrender flag and fled in the night, abandoning his commanders.  But the Chinese continued to fight from the ramparts.  The north-wing commander Tso Pao-kwei led his troops to counterattack the Japanese, showing his courageous spirit until his heroic death in battle.  Except for the collapse in the defense caused by the supreme commander’s cravenness, the Chinese could have continued to fight.  Early on September 16, the Japanese entered the stronghold and found only a few Chinese soldiers.  Pingyang was occupied without further fighting.  The Chinese had retreated north across the Yalu River, thus losing their last position, as well as their prestige, in Korea.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #544
 Title or Description  Sino-Japanese War: Japanese Military Might Captures Pyongyang
 Nisshin sensō: Nissei Heijō shōhō zu 日清戰爭: 日勢平壌勝捕圖
 Artist  Ogata Gekkō (1859-1920)
 Signature  Gekkō
 Seal  Unidentified square artist's seal below signature
 Publication Date  1894 (Meiji 27)
 Publisher  Takekawa Risaburō (Chikusendō) note: the left margin where the publisher's information would be on this print has been trimmed.
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - individual sheets trimmed to margins; unbacked; soiling and minor toning
 Genre  ukiyo-e - senso-e (Sino-Japanese War); Meiji era
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 1/4 in. (35.6 x 23.5 cm) each sheet
 Literature
 The Sino-Japanese War, Nathan Chaikin, self-published, 1983, p. 72, pl. 34.
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2000.191a-c, 2000.380.04a-c, RES.27.158a-c; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  S1999.55a-c
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