Using an Electric Searchlight in the Attack on Pyeongyang
(Heijo kogeki denki shiyo no zu)
signed Kiyochika with artist's seal, published by Kichijiro, dated Meiji nijunananen - gatsu - ka (Meiji 27  - month - day), 1894
oban tate-e triptych 14 7/8 by 29 1/2 in., 37.7 by 75 cm
The outbreak of war with China in 1894 stimulated a burst of productivity in the woodblock print market, with Kiyochika leading the charge. What began with naval skirmishes in July led to a formal declaration of war on August 1st. The first major attack began at daybreak on September 15th when the Japanese army attacked the walled city of Pyeongyang. By the evening, the Chinese forces collapsed and the supreme commander had fled, allowing the Japanese to take control of the city the next day.
Kiyochika depicts Japanese artillery utilizing a searchlight fueled by a generator to pierce the inky night sky and guide their aim across the Taedong River. The Hyonmu Gate is illuminated by the beam of light while bursting shells cast an eerie orange glow over the city walls.
Henry D. Smith II, Kiyo-Chika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 82, no 91
Exhibition of Kobayashi Kiyochika, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, 1998, p. 8, no. 109
Kobayashi Kiyochika: A Retrospective, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2016, pp. 140-141, no. 226
Bradley M. Bailey, Flash of Light, Fog of War: Japanese Military Prints, 1894-1905, Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2017, p. 88, no. 36, accession no. 2015.11.18 Edo Tokyo Museum, accession no. 90364206
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession no. JP3420
(inv. no. 10-5086)
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