A Fierce Battle at Seoul by Kokunimasa ( also known as Ryukel ) is a woodblock tryptich from 1904. Utagawa Kokunimasa (1874-1944) was a woodblock artist from the famous Utagawa family, one of the biggest branch of ukiyo-e artists in Japan; his father was Utagawa Kunisada III (or ‘Baido Hosai’). Kokunimssa was an exceedingly prolific artist, active during the Meiji, Taiso, and Showa periods. Besides his great number of war prints he is known for, his prints documenting a large tsunami disaster in 1896 are very well known. The three periods he worked under (Meiji, Taiso, and Showa) are set and named after the ruling Japanese Emperors. As the Emperor’s changed, so did the styles of prints. Kokunimasa was known for continuing the ukiyo-e old tradition even when new art movements started coming around. Kokunimasa’s print subjects were largly influenced by what people were wanting to buy. The Sino-Japanese war and the Russo-Japanese war were, of course, very high demand, and therefore he created a lot of these, very quickly. He is known for his color usage, varying from bright colors, to pale, to dark color usage. This allowed him to adapt quickly to the next market, and produce a wide array of prints of high historical importance during the war years.
Kokunimasa designed many works for the publisher Hatsujiro Fukuda during the Russo Japanese Waries in its team work.
An artist,an engraver,a printer and a publisher collaborate to make around 200 or 250 impressions until the final print is produced.Prints can be identified by their signature and seal (or sensor seal) as well as by the title. The artist’s signature is often written in brush work, whereas the seals are clearly found in vermilion. In addition to the artist’s signature, the engraver and the publisher’s name and address are stamped on or outside the illustration. Most of the publishers of these prints were once located in Tokyo. Most war prints were designed as triptychs- a set of three panels. On today’s art market, they are found either as a set of three separate panels or the panels are pasted together. During the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) and up to the beginning of the period of the Russo-Japanese war, print production was revived dramatically. This boom was caused both by the artists successfully publicizing their work, and by a public delighted to see the triumphant progress of the Japanese depicted in art. While newspapers were only available to the elite and intellectuals, the general public relied upon the prints, which were relatively affordable.