Toshimitsu: Drawing for the triptych of US President Grant Watching Training Exhibition (Sold )
Artist: Kobayashi Toshimitsu (active 1877-1904)
Title: Preparatory drawing for the following triptych: Former President of the United States, Mr. Grant, Watching a Lance Training Exhibition at Ueno Park (Ueno kôenchi ni oite Beikoku saki no daitôryô Guranto-shi sôjutsu yûran no zu)
Size: Approx. 35.5 x 53 cm
Original preparatory drawing for the following triptych. “Former President of the United States, Mr. Grant, Watching a Lance Training Exhibition at Ueno Park” (Ueno kôenchi ni oite Beikoku saki no daitôryô Guranto-shi sôjutsu yûran no zu) This is undoubtedly a preparatory drawing for many reasons, but the following are the most relevant. We see the red under-drawing, both in the troops at left and in the straight lines that the artist drew to help him orient himself in the triptych composition. There is also pentimenti in four places; one is on the sleeve of one of the women and one is at the waist of the second foreign man. The large expository cartouche is also placed here in a different position in the right panel than we see in the final print. The name-cartouches are all empty here, as they would be filled in later, perhaps by a calligrapher. The differences in style are also interesting, as there was painstaking care taken on the faces of the visiting dignitaries, and the training men are more like blurs of activity, merely sketched in at at this point in the drawing.
Preparatory drawings like this one are fascinating for their window into both the process of the artist as well as the process of creating a woodblock print. It is very rare to find a true preparatory drawing that matches a finished woodblock print.
Here is the information on the finished of the print, which is shown on the MFA Boston website :
"Since Japan had been largely isolated from the outside world from the 1630s to the 1850s, official visits of foreign dignitaries were of great interest to the print-buying public in the Meiji era. In contrast to the highly imaginative scenes of the home life of the Imperial family, foreign guests and the Japanese statesmen who entertained them are often depicted in a more realistic drawing style, sometimes based on photographs. Dignitaries other than the imperial family are usually identified by name, as in this triptych showing one of the events during the visit to Japan of former U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant.”
Condition: The thin drawing paper has been laid down to a heavier backing paper. Some losses, but these unique works must be accepted in as-is condition.