Fair highlight from Asia Bookroom


北京夢枕. [Peking Yume Makura]. [Peking Dream Pillow].
今泉一瓢. [Imaizumi Ippyō]. 
Two colour woodblocks on oban tate-e sheets, diptyche style, which together make a striking satirical comment on the Opium War. The sleeping giant of China in his fine Chinese silks lies smoking opium while being attacked by tiny French soldiers, the Western powers look on. Upper corners torn with loss causing loss of two Kanji in title. Matted. A striking and unusual image. Scarce. Japanese Satirical Sino-French War Woodblock Print]*. Tokyo. 1884. 

Yukichi Fukuzawa (福澤諭吉, 1835 - 1901), regarded as one of the founders of modern Japan, commissioned this work from Imaizumi Ippyō (1865 - 1904)in 1884 shortly after discovering his talent. Fukuzawa was an early Japanese civil rights activist and liberal ideologist whose ideas about the work of government and the structure of social institutions made a lasting impression on a rapidly changing Japan during the Meiji Era. 

In August 1884, at the time when the war broke out between Qing China and France over the control of northern Vietnam, China was increasingly being encroached upon by the Western powers. This image graphically demonstrates the mindset of Meiji-era Japanese intellectuals of the time who despised the "backwards" Orient, looking to Europe instead. Although China won the land battles the short Sino-French War (also known as Tonkin War) of 1884-85 ended in defeat for the Qing due to their poor use of their navy. The Sino-French War confirmed to many Chinese that the Qing Dynasty was weak and was yet another step towards the rising nationalist movement which became increasingly evident over the next half century. 

In 1885, following the printing of this woodblock, Ippyō graduated from Keio University and went to study lithography and photography in San Francisco, where he later became a shareholder in a small trading company. 

AU$1850.00 (Appoximately US$1443.00)    

[Stock number 159528]

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