Kuropatkin is Surprised at his Dinner by Wounded from 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. This print shows General Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin, the Russian Imperial Minister of War, upsetting his dinner table as he learns of Russia’s defeat in the Battle of Tokuriji. Wounded Russian soldiers with battleship guns, rifles, and telegraph poles in place of their heads and a locomotive with arms waving a white flag with a red cross approach from the left. Kuropatkin is dismayed at the losses and asks how his forces could be so weak. The conversation between Kuropatkin and the soldiers contains a pun on the word tokuri (sake bottle).

Last updated: March 2, 2012