MEIJI JAPAN 1868 - 1912
 
 
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Handsome scene of government officials and dignitaries attending a ceremony to present the new Meiji constitution to members of the cabinet. The Emperor stands behind a cloth-covered table atop a platform at left, surrounded by ladies of the palace dressed in the latest Western fashions and the Empress sitting on a red chair. A man bows respectfully before the Emperor as he presents a scroll. The men wearing military uniforms with sashes across the chest, some of them holding plumed caps. The room features a checked floor and orange patterned walls hung with fringed draperies and Western clocks. An intriguing image of this historic event, wonderfully detailed.

The Meiji Constitution, established as a set of immortal laws, was promulgated along with joyful celebrations on 11 February, 1889. The brief announcement ceremony held in the grand throne room of the palace and the accompanying festivities were described in fascinating detail in the Japan Weekly Mail (February 16, 1889). A comparison of the journalist’s description with a print commemorating the event reveals that although parts of the throne room were rendered in accordance with the newspaper report, the unknown artist freely embellished his composition with more colours and patterns to make it livelier. The artist probably referred to a printed plan of the throne room showing the places assigned to each class of persons expected to be present, but he was not present at the ceremony itself.
Extract from: 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication “Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age”. Catalogue number 17, page 59.

Collections: Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts.
           
References: Illustrated in the 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication “Japan at the
 Dawn of the Modern Age”. Catalogue number 17, page 59, plus detail on page 22.

 

 
     
 
 
 
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