New in 2015: The Lone Cavalryman

By | December 30, 2015

We’ve been highlighting amazing works of art that became part of the SLAM collection in 2015. You can read each installment here

lone cavalryman

Utagawa Kunimasa IV, Japanese, 1848–1920; published by Kodama Yakichi, Japanese, active late 19th century; The Lone Cavalryman Lieutenant Colonel Fukushima on his Expedition: Actor Fujisawa Asajirô as Lieutenant Colonel Fukushima, 1893; triptych of color woodblock prints; 14 7/8 x 28 3/4 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Lowenhaupt 8:2015a-c

The Art Museum in 2015 continued to benefit from the generosity of Charles and Rosalyn Lowenhaupt, who have given the Museum more than 1,400 Japanese prints and related works of art since 2010. A recent gift — The Lone Cavalryman Lieutenant Colonel Fukushima on his Expedition: Actor Fujisawa Asajirô as Lieutenant Colonel Fukushima — will be included in a major upcoming exhibition of extraordinary visual material documenting Japan’s rise as a military power in East Asia, starting with the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Philip Hu, associate curator of Asian art, called The Lone Cavalryman “among the most dramatic of all Japanese prints produced during the Meiji period.”

The triptych of woodblock prints was created by artist Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848–1920), who specialized in Meiji actor prints. It depicts actor Fujisawa Asajirô in the role of Lt. Col. Fukushima Yasumasa, who became a national hero in 1893 after completing a 488-day solo expedition from Germany through Poland, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, and Manchuria to Japan.

“The combination of these three personalities from the diverse worlds of woodblock printing, the Imperial Japanese Army, and the kabuki theater makes for a work of great historical and visual interest,” Hu said in an acquisition proposal.

The Lone Cavalryman will be featured in Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan, a 2016 exhibition that will draw almost exclusively upon the Lowenhaupt Collection.

The exhibition, which will run from October 16 through January 8, 2017, focuses on art produced during a period marked by the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. The confidence that Japan gained from its victories against China and Russia is richly documented through a wide variety of artistic works: paintings on folding screen and hanging scrolls, drawings and sketchbooks, color woodblock prints, lithographs, stereographs, illustrated books and magazines, postcards, trade cards, game boards, textiles, and other kinds of materials.