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Battle Between the Japanese and Russians at Seoul: Hurrah for the Great Victory of the Japanese Empire

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Battle between the Japanese and Russians at Seoul:

Telegraphic Record of the Russo-Japanese War: Manchurian Mounted Bandits Destroy Railroad

Hurrah for the Great Victory of the Great Japanese Empire

by Utagawa Kokunimasa, 1904

IHL Cat. #85

About This Print

The Battle for Seoul

It is unclear which battle this print is portraying as there was no battle of Seoul per say.  The Japanese so surprised the Russians by their naval  attack and landing of troops at Inchon (Chemulpo) near Seoul on February 8, 1904 (Meiji 37), that they occupied Seoul the following day without much resistance.  On February 10 they formally declared war on Russia, but it took the surprised Russians another week to issue their formal declaration of war.

The February publishing date of this battle scene would indicate that Kokunimasa conjured up this scene to meet the deadlines of his publisher who needed to rush into production to keep up with photographic accounts of rapidly unfolding events.

Notation in English Added

The MFA, Boston's print includes a notation in English on the left panel "The great victory of the Japanese army in Seoul engagement", as shown below.  The notation was likely carved into the block during subsequent printings, added to enhance sales to the U.S. and England.  To see another example of an added English notation see the print A great victory for the great Japanese imperial navy, hurrah!

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #85
 Title (Description)  Battle between the Japanese and Russians at Seoul: Hurrah for the Great Victory of the Great Japanese Empire (Nichiro Keijô ni gekisen su, Dai Nihon teikoku dai shôri banzai)
 Artist  Kokunimasa 小国政   (1874 – 1944)
 Signature  柳蛙 Ryūa (signature used for Russo-Japanese War Prints)
 Seal  江戸子 Edoko ("true Tokyoite")
 Pub. Date  February 1904 (Meiji 37)
 Publisher  福田初次郎 Fukuda Hatsujirō
 三世彫栄 Sansei Hori Ei 
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - overall light toning; sheets untrimmed and not backed; wormage mainly center panel but also right side of left panel and center right of right panel.
 Genre  ukiyo-e, senso-e (Russo-Japanese War)- Meiji era
 Format  vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 14 3/4 x 10 in.  (37.5 x 25.4 cm) each sheet 
 Collections This Print  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston RES.51.80a-c, 2000.86a-c; Glasgow University Library Special Collections Department Prints of the Russo-Japanese War Sp Coll e159