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Mirror of Portraits of All Sovereigns in the World

Mirror of Our Country’s Revered Deities and Esteemed Emperors

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Mirror of Portraits of All Sovereigns in the World

by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1879

Hoshizukiyo Kenmon Jikki (Egara Mondō) starring Ichikawa Sadanji, Onoe Kikugorō V, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Iwai Hanshirō VIII

IHL Cat. #2467

About This Print

Seventeen world sovereigns (emperors, empresses, kings, queens and an American president) are portrayed along with Emperor Meiji and Empress Haruko (top of center panel), in this 1879 print, a time filled with visits from foreign sovereigns, as summarized in the below passage from Donald Keene's Emperorof Japan: Meiji and His World.1 

By this time [end of 1879] he [Emperor Meiji] was recognized as a “cousin”by the royal houses of Europe, and he accordingly received regular and prolongedvisits from foreign royalty.

Apart from visits by foreign royalty, the emperor wasregularly informed of events in the lives of other monarchs. He respondedcorrectly to his “cousins,” sending messages of congratulations to Alfonso XIIof Spain on his remarriage and to the czar of Russia on his narrow escape fromassassins.

As with so many prints during the Meiji period that portrayed topical events, the important thing was not so much getting the facts right as conveying the nation's rise to power and, with this increasing power, the growing respect paid to its Imperial house. If we look closely at the artist's portrayals of royalty and rulers and the colored rectangular cartouches that list the personages being depicted, we notice a number of anomalies as further explained in the below table, the most interesting of which are the naming of the King of Portugal, King Dom Luis I at the time, as "King Frois" (フロイス国王), Frois being the name of the 16th-century Portuguese missionary Luis Frois, who arrived in Japan in 1563; depictions of the king and queen of "Madagarasu" (マダガラス), a country that has no known equivalent, but sounds strikingly like Madagascar, and the depictions of the king and queen of Switzerland (スイル) which had become a republic in 1848 and had no recognized king and queen.

As with other prints portraying contemporary or recent public figures, it is likely that the artist modeled some of his depictions after existing portraits. 

Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 321.

Emperor Meiji (1852-1912, r. 1867-1912) and Empress Haruko (1849-1914, r. 1867-1912)

From the official Imperial Household Photographs (hand-colored) by Uchida Kuichi, 1872

 Right Panel
(as shown in cartouches)
Notes As Portrayed in the PrintMonarch or Ruler when Print was Produced Another Possibility

King Frois
[of Portugal]

There never was a Portuguese king with the name of  Frois. Luis Frois was a 16th century Portuguese missionary in Japan famous for chronicling his time there. The print's depiction bears no resemblance to the king at the time, Dom Luis I. It's likeness is closer to Spain's King Alfonso XII.
King Dom Luis I
(r. 1861-1889)
King Alfonso XII of Spain
(r. 1874-1885)
photo. c. 1890

Emperor of Russia
Tsar Alexander II
(r. 1855-1881)
photo, 1870

以太利亜國帝 イタリア
Emperor of Italy

A web search does not show any photos of King Umberto I with a full beard.
King Umberto I
(r. 1878-1900)
photo, 1882


Queen of Madagarasu 

The kana characters in the cartouche sound out "madagarasu" 
sounding very much like Madagascar. From 1868 to 1883 its monarch was Ranavalona II, a woman of color.

Queen Ranavalona II
(r. 1868-1883)
photo, pre-1883


King of Madagarasu

The Prime Minister of Madagascar form 1864 to 1895 was Ranavalona II's husband, Rainilaiarivony, a man of color.
Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony
(office: 1864-1895)
photo, c. 1880

澳地利國帝 Emperor of Austria
Emperor Francis Joseph I
(r. 1848-1916)
painting, 1872

Notes As Portrayed in the PrintsMonarch or Ruler when Print was Produced Another Possibility

King of Holland
King William III
(r. 1849-1890)
photo, pre-1890


King of France 
The artist's depiction of the "King of France" looks decidedly like Napoleon III, who first served as President of France from 1848 to 1852 and then as self-proclaimed Emperor. He was the last French monarch. 
Patrice de MacMahon
President of France
(held office: 1875-1879)
portrait, c. 1880
Emperor Napoleon III
(r. 1852-1870)
portrait: c. 1865

Queen of France

Consistent with Chikanobu's portrait being that of Napoleon III, the "Queen" he depicted would have been Empress Eugenie. 

Élisabeth de Mac Mahon
Wife of Patrice de MacMahon
portrait, undated

Empress Eugénie de Montijo
(r. 1853-1870)
portrait, undated
米洲合衆國王 King of America 


 Rutherford B. Hayes
The 19th President of the United States (1877-1881)
photo, 1852


英吉利國女帝 [国婦
Empress of England
Queen Victoria 
(r. 1837-1901)
photo, 1882

Notes  As Portrayed in the PrintsMonarch or Ruler when Print was Produced Another Possiblity

King of Denmark 

Christian IX
King of Denmark
(r. 1863-1906)
portrait, 1864

King of Persia 

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Shah of Persia (Iran)
(r. 1848-1896)
portrait, 1887

King of Belgium
King Leopold II
(r. 1865-1909)
photo, c. 1900


支那國帝 Emperor of China 
The Guangxu Empeor would have been only 8 years old when this print was published, so it is not clear who is being depicted, perhaps the Tongzhi Emperor who died at the age of 19 in 1875.

Guangxu Emperor
Qing Dynasty
(r. 1875-1908)
portrait, undated


支那國皇后 Empress ofChina 

A fictionalized portrait that could reference a number of the Guangzu or Tongzhi Emperors' concubines or the older Empress Dowager Ci'an, or Empress Dowager Cixi who was the dominant political figure in the Qing court.

 Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty
(tenure: 1861-1908)
portrait as a young woman.

King of Switzerland  

Switzerland's last king, William II, reigned until 1746. The President of the Confederation in 1878 was Karl Schenk.
Chikanobu's depiction is likely that of the King of Sweden at the time, Charles XV. 
Karl Schenk
President of the Confederation of Switzerland
(held office: 1878)
photo, c. 1870

Charles XV
King of Sweden
(r. 1859-1872)
photo, mid-1860s

Queen ofSwitzerland
As above, Chikanobu's depiction is likely that of the Queen Consort of Sweden, rather than the non-existent Queen of Switzerland
Louise of the Netherlands Queen Consort of Sweden
(tenure: 1859-1872)
photo, c. 1871

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Mirror of Portraits of All Sovereigns in the World
 Sejō kakkoku shaga teiō kagami 世上各国写画帝王鏡
 Artist Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912)
Yōshū Chikanobu 楊洲周延
 Seal Yōshū 楊洲 seal (as shown above)
 Publication Date
April 1879
十二月四月 届 [official notification delivered Meiji, 12th year, 4th month]
Tsunajima Kamekichi  綱島亀吉
[Marks: pub. ref. 549; seal ref 26-087]

right columns:
上野北大門丁十一番地 [address: Ueno Kitadaimonchō 11-banchi]
画作 橋本直義 [artist: Hashimoto Naoyoshi - birth name]
left columns:
浅草瓦町十二番地 [address: Kawaramachi jūni-banchi]
板主 綱島亀吉 [publisher: Tsunajima Kamekichi]
 Carver ホリカメ [彫亀] Hori Kame
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good – 3 separate unbacked almost full-size sheets; minor soiling and paper imperfections; tape stains verso, visible on front on all panels
 Genre ukiyo-e; kaika-e 
價七銭五厘 [price: 7 sen 5 rin]
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 r: 14 3/8 x 9 5/8 in. (36.5 x 24.4 cm) 
 c: 14 5/16 x 9 3/4 in. (36.4 x 24.8 cm)
 l:  14 5/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36.4 x 24.6 cm)
 H x W Image 14 1/16 x 9 7/16 in. (35.7 x 24 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print
 Metropolitan Museum of Art JP3269Library of Congress Chadbourne collection of Japanese prints 2002700180; Art Research Center (ARC) Ritsumeikan University AcNo. 930-C001-003
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