Friday, 19 July 2013

The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) through the eyes of artists

The Russo-Japanese War (8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) was "the first great war of the 20th century", and also the first war to be fully recorded by the international media. There was obviously a great demand for pictures from the remote war zone. Although there were some photographers in the area, usually they were not able to satisfy the demand for more "dramatic" shots, which the newspapers were most interested in. 

That is why it was left for artists to provide the "action" shots and other more emotional, sometimes also patriotic, images. The accuracy of the artists' drawings of course varied. In some rare cases the war artists were themselves present at or close by the events, but often they had to rely on second hand accounts, some of which may not have been very accurate. 

Below is a selection of illustrations, published in international media during the Russo-Japanese War:

The Russian ambassador, baron von Rosen, leaving Tokyo after the outbreak of the war. 

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse) inspecting an ambulance train due to depart 
to the war zone.

The wife of a Russian officer, dressed as a Cossack in Mukden.

The first shot is fired by the the crew of a Japanese war ship.

Admiral Alexeieff, Russian Viceroy in the Far East, inspect the troops.

Japanese infantry advancing in Korea.

Greetings from the  Empress! Always when a troop train left St. Petersburg, members of the court were at the station
in order to personally deliver small "Empress's parcels", containing tobacco, tea and other
small things the soldiers appreciated. 

The way to the front was long. Cossacks made the journey a little bit easier to endure by
singing about the glories of their forefathers - and about beautiful women.

Admiral Togo's fleet near Port Arthur.

Close combat between Russian and Japanese destroyers at Port Arthur. The ships were so close
 to each other that officers had to use their revolvers against the enemy.

"When the Petropavlovsk was destroyed". The drawing was made by an artist who
was present when it happened. 

"A Russian military ambulance on skis".

A Japanese soldier captured by the Russians.

"A giant at the mercy of the dwarfs". A Russian soldier captured by the Japanese.

Colonel Ukada and captain Otti - captured by the Russian in Manchuria, while trying
 to blow up a bridge - were shot by the Russians. They were first sentenced to execution, but general
Kuropatkin converted the sentence to shooting, due to their rank.  Both officers had according to
Kuropatkin acted gallantly. Colonel Ukada was a Christian, and donated 1000 rubles to the Russian
Red Cross.

General, count Tamemoto Kuroki, head of the Japanese First Army.

General Aleksey Kuropatkin, Imperial Minister of War.

General, baron Anatoly Stoessel, "The iron man of Port Arthur". "What I command, can be done".

Japanese cavalry in action.

The Japanese attack with bayonets.

Japanese naval officers on leave visiting a tea house in Nagasaki.
Drawing by a Japanese artist.

"A welcome visit". A scene from the hospital for officers in Tokyo.

On board a Russian ambulance train.

General Nogi and general Stoessel meet on Januari 6, 1905 in a village close to
Port Arthur. "Both generals were deeply moved". Nogi, "speaking on his own and the  entire Japanese
people's behalf", praised Stoessel for the courageous defense of Port Arthur. Stoessel, for his part,
thanked Nogi for the thoughtful way the Japanese had treated the garrison after the capitulation.

Admiral Togo greeted by people in Tokyo after the fall
of Port Arthur.

General Stoessel, together with his family, returning to Russia on board the steamer "Australia".
The British artist Reginald Cleaver, who made the drawing, was also travelling with the "Australia".

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