A Whale and Three Fish Sitting down to a Formal Dinner of Russian Sailors
The Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) was documented in various forms of media, such as woodblock prints, photographs, and illustrations. The victories of the Japanese military in the early stages of the war inspired propaganda prints by Japanese artists. Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) contributed this farcical single-sheet print to the series, Nihon banzai hyakusen hyakushō (Long live Japan: 100 victories, 100 laughs). Kiyochika, known for producing woodblock prints using Western painting methods, had been under the brief tutelage of Charles Wirgman (1832–91), an English cartoonist for the Illustrated London News. Kiyochika also became a full-time political cartoonist for a Japanese magazine in 1882–93. The satirical writer Honekawa Dojin (pseudonym of Nishimori Takeki, 1862–1913) supplied each illustration with an accompanying humorous description. The series mocked the Russians for their perceived military weakness, conceit, and cowardice. Here the sea bream invites guests to a meal of Russians. It apologizes that they taste bad and lack guts, despite the superior impression they give off. The guests are surprised how easy it is to swallow them whole. Puns on words related to the sea, fish, and death occur throughout the text.
Yoshikawa town, Japan
Type of Item
1 print : woodcut, color ; 37 x 24.8 centimeters (sheet)
Last updated: March 2, 2012