Kiyochika: View of Mount Fuji from the Steam Ship Daikokuya (Sold)

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Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika 小林清親 (1847-1915)
Title: View of Mount Fuji from a Ship at Sea at Miho in Sunshu (Shizuoka) 
Date: 1878, October

View of Mount Fuji from a ship at sea at Miho in Sunshu (Shizuoka) 駿洲三保航海中之富士 A steam-powered ship, likely a steam frigate, is pushing through the waves in its powerful majesty, posed against the backdrop of a pink-tinged Mount Fuji. The waves are rendered in a way that mimics copperplate etching. A full moon is rising, and behind this ship we see an old-fashioned wind-powered sailing ship, unable to match this one in velocity. It would require a specialist in 19th century marine vessels to identify precisely this craft. One would assume that this was purchased or built for military ends, but perhaps it was converted into a commercial craft. It seems like a very strong coincidence that the publisher of this work is Matsuki Heikichi, also known as Daikokuya. Perhaps he was doing some advertising on the sly here, as Hiroshige’s publishers used to do? This work is especially interesting because of the date; only ten years into the Meiji Restoration, and sixteen years before Japan’s war with China in 1894. This work feels like nationalist muscle-flexing, but perhaps Kiyochika just liked modern ships? There is a small oval object in the lower center image; is this a fishing buoy? An extremely rare design; only one example could be located, in the MET museum collection.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Untrimmed and unbacked. Some wrinkling.
Dimensions: ôban triptych
Publisher: Daikokuya (Matsuki Heikichi)
Literature: See MET Museum website.
Signature: Kobayashi Kiyochika Hitsu