General Kuropatkin and His Staff Joyfully Leaving Saint Petersburg for the Front


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. This print shows General Aleksei N. Kuropatkin, the Russian Imperial Minister of War, parting from two grief-stricken women, his wife and his mistress, while his staff waits in the background. The wife and mistress resist his departure for the front, and ask why he does not feign illness, even though he deceives people regularly. The general asks them to wait for him as he will run for his life. His soldiers are tired of waiting and yawn.

Last updated: February 26, 2016