Top of page

Exhibition Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861). The Warrior Saga of Gorō Mitsutoki, between 1844 and 1848. Color woodcut. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (042.00.00)
Ōkura Kōtō (died 1910). Exploit of the Japanese Hobsons in Their Heroic Attempt to Block Up the Harbour Entrance of Port Arthur, May 3rd, 1904 from The Russo-Japanese War, ca. 1904. Color woodblock on crepe paper in book published in Tokyo by Hasegawa Enkichi (Sonokichi). Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (041.00.00)

War Stories

Across time and regional boundaries, art has been used to alternately vilify and glorify. Utagawa Kuniyoshi was among Japanese artists known for dramatic musha-e or warrior pictures. Here, he depicts samurai Saga Gorō Mitsutoki delivering a report to his emperor during the Battle of Dannoura, though wounded by multiple enemy arrows. Sixty years later, Ōkura Kōtō evoked a similar spirit in his Russo-Japanese War scene in which Japanese Imperial Navy officers engage the Russian fleet at Port Arthur (now Lüshun) in southern Manchuria.