Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Empress Jingū leading the invasion of Korea, a preparatory drawing and colour woodblock print

Meiji era, AD 1879

The scene features Empress Jingū, a legendary regent of Japan of the late fourth to early fifth century, who is said to have led an invasion of Korea. She is seen here about to carve with her bow on the rock-face the belligerent declaration, 'The emperor of Korea is my dog'. Many Japanese of the Meiji era adopted Western dress, and Jingu's costume appears to feature a bustle, although these were not introduced to the imperial court until the 1880s. The finished print is no. 15 in the series Dai-Nippon shi ryaku zue ('Concise Illustrated History of Great Japan'), issued in April 1879.

Among the group of fifty-two preparatory drawings by Yoshitoshi (1839-92), originally pasted into one album, this falls into the subject category of valiant emperors and historical figures loyal to the imperial cause. The emperor had been newly 'restored' to power in 1868, and works were being produced as propaganda for the imperial institution. Yoshitoshi's prints can also be seen as a precursor to the flourishing of history painting of the later Meiji era (1868-1912), which Japanese artists knew was regarded as the highest form of painting in the West.

The basic outlines of the drawings were done in pale red ink, which was overlaid with black as the lines took a more definite shape. Where alterations were needed paper was pasted over. The collection of drawings fully demonstrates the force and emotive power of Yoshitoshi's art, and allow a glimpse into the fascinating process of his artistic creativity over a period of more than a decade.

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Height: 350.000 mm (drawing)
Width: 738.000 mm (drawing)
Height: 350.000 mm (drawing)
Width: 738.000 mm (drawing)

Museum number

Asia JP ADD943 (1990.6-14.01(4)) (painting);Asia JA 1990.10-12.01 (1-3) (print)



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