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Illustration of His Majesty the Commander-in-Chief's Triumphal Return to Reconstructed Diet Building


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Illustration of His Majesty the Commander-in-Chief's Triumphal Return to the Reconstructed Diet Building

attributed to Nobukazu Watanabe, 1891

IHL Cat. #290

About This Print

While the print is titled 大元帥陛下 凱旋皇居御入城之図, which translates as "Illustration of the His Majesty the Commander-in-Chief's Triumphal Return to the Palace," the print clearly depicts a visit by Emperor Meiji and the royal family to the reconstructed (the second) Diet Building, likely in 1891.  The emperor is seen stepping out of the Phoenix carriage in front of the Diet Building to be greeted by dignitaries, the crown prince (center panel), and the Empress Shōken (right panel).  While this print does not carry either an artist's signature or seal, or a publisher's seal, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston listing for this print states "possibly by Nobukazu."  Possibly, the publisher realized the title and scene portrayed didn't match and decided not to apply either his seal or the artist's signature. 

Reconstructed Diet Building

Source: Japanese Lifestyle website http://www.japaneselifestyle.com.au/tokyo/national_diet_building.htm

National Diet Building - Early designs

German architects Wilhelm Bockmann and Hermann Ende were invited to Tokyo in 1886 and 1887 respectively. They drew up two plans for a Diet building. Bockmann's initial plan was a masonry structure with a dome and flanking wings, similar to other legislatures of the era, which would form the core of a large "government ring" south of the Imperial Palace. However, Japan was experiencing public resistance to Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru's internationalist policies, and so the architects submitted a more "Japanese" design as well, substituting traditional Japanese architectural features in many portions of the building. Ende and Bockmann's Diet Building was never built, but their other "government ring" designs were used for the Tokyo District Court and Ministry of Justice buildings.

In 1898, Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi interviewed American Ralph Adams Cram, who proposed a more "Oriental" design for the building, featuring tiled roofs and a large enclosure of walls and gates. The Ito government fell as Cram was en route to the United States, and the project was dropped.

National Diet Building - First building (1890) and second building (1891)

With an internal deadline approaching, the government enlisted Ende and Bockmann associate Adolph Stegmueller and Japanese architect Yoshii Shigenori to design a temporary structure. The building, a two-story wooden structure in European style, opened in November 1890 on a site in Hibiya.

An electrical fire burned down the first building in January of 1891, only two months later. Another Ende and Bockmann associate, Oscar Tietze, joined Yoshii to design its replacement. The second building was larger than the first, but followed a similar design: it housed the Diet until 1925, surviving the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Illustration of Emperor's Triumphal Return to the Reconstructed Diet Building
 (Daigensui-heika gaisen kōkyo Gonyūjō no zu 大元帥陛下 凱旋皇居御入城之図)
 Artist Watanabe Nobukazu (1872-1944)(Note: The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's entry for this print notes the print is "possibly by" Nobukazu.) 
 Signature unsigned
 Seal none
 Publication Date 1891 (per the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - print does not carry a date)
 Publisher no publisher's seal
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition poor – minor wrinkling, several pin holes, right edge of lower right panel repaired with Japanese paper tape, discoloration on center panel and a 1” repaired tear on lower left edge of center panel
 Genre ukiyo-e; kaika-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (36.5 x 24.1 cm) each sheet

 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2000.271a-c
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