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Yoshu Chikanobu (aka Chikanobu), Japanese, (1838–1912)
Children's Cock Fight, 1884
Ink on Paper
14 1/4 in. x 28 3/8 in. (36.2 cm x 72.07 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2006.1.1


Medium
Ink on paper; triptych print.

Object Description
According to the inscription on the left side, this composition was originally a painting by Chikanobu that he entered in the Second Painting Competitive Exhibition (Dai ni Kaiga Kyoshinkai) held in 1884. The work received the bronze prize and was purchased by the Imperial Household Agency (Kunaisho). Because many people wanted a print of this painting, the publisher Enkyodo had this woodblock reproduction made, but at a smaller scale. The size and current location of the original painting has not been determined yet, but judging from other extant Chikanobu paintings, "Children's Cockfight" was probably done in colors on silk in a hanging scroll format.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce sponsored the first Domestic Painting Competitive Exhibition (Naikoku kaiga kyoshinkai) in 1882, prompted by Meiji government officials having visited such publicly sponsored exhibitions in Europe. Chikanobu, Yoshitoshi and Kyosai were among the artists mostly known for print designs who contributed works. Yoshitoshi's memorable 1882 composition "Fujiwara Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight" (Fujiwara Yasumasa gekka roteki) was another example of a print being issued based on a painting shown at the government venue. While Yoshitoshi's image from the past has an unsettling ominous quality about it, Chikanobu's depiction of seven young boys at play seems fairly light-hearted for what could be a bloody picture of a brutal sport.

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

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