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Royalty and Rulers

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Chikanobu Yoshu, Japanese, (1838–1912)
Great Horseraces at Ueno Park’s Shinobazu Pond Illustrated, November 1884
Ink on Paper
14 1/16 in. x 28 in. (35.72 cm x 71.12 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2003.1.84

Alternate Title: Ueno fushi no daikeba no zu
Full Title: The Meiji Emperor Watches Horseracing at Ueno

The orange colors in the sky are partially oxidized, shomen-zuri, mica is sprinkled on the large screen behind the emperor.

Signed: “Yoshu Chikanobu hitsu” with red toshidama seal

Colored ink woodblock triptych print.

Object Description
Horseracing at Ueno Park in Tokyo was a popular pastime from 1884 to 1893, and prints of the emperor and empress attending the races were quite popular. Several different versions of the same scene by Chikanobu are known, including one issued before the track opened in which the horses are shown galloping clockwise instead of the usual counter-clockwise direction. In this print the emperor and his attendants are on the second floor of a pavilion, which the artist has skewed away from being parallel with the track in order to show both the royal entourage and the event. While the emperor is shown in Western style military dress, the empress and her ladies wear traditional Japanese court robes.

Fireworks explode above the track and pond, with various paper balloons, parasols and toys with parachutes floating down. Edging the track are viewing stands and teahouses, which had long made the Shinobazu Pond a popular destination for parties and love affairs. The manmade island contains a shrine to Benzaiten, a deity associated with music and beauty. In the distance is Mt. Fuji, and beside it is a tall structure that might be the newly constructed bell tower for the Nikolai Cathedral in Kanda.

For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.

Kobayashi Testujiro

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