Blackwall, London, England
Japanese battleship: 'Kashima' or 'Katori'
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From the Collection
Medium includes graphite. The pre-Dreadnought battleships 'Kashima' and 'Katori' were sisters, their design being an improvement of the British King Edward VII class. Built by Armstrong-Whitworth at Elswick they were the last warships constructed for the Imperial Japanse navy in British yards. Of 16,700 tons and just over 144 metres in length, their main armament was 2 x twin 12-inch guns and four single 10-inch, and they were launched in 1905 and completed in 1906. There were minor differences of detail in the two ships' fittings, but in this drawing Wyllie appears to have produced what is in effect a composite, though probably intending it to be 'Kashima'. Is a similar vertical format drawing of 'Kashima' from astern, showing her in 1906 before leaving for Japan, which suggests this may have been done at the same time. However Wyllie also saw both ships after they arrived at Portsmouth on 9 May 1921, having sailed from Yokohama on 3 March bringing Crown Prince Hirohito, the first Japanese crown prince to travel abroad, on an official visit to Europe that lasted several months. The prince travelled in 'Katori'. Wyllie painted a pair of oils of the two ships during their visit to Portsmouth, probably commissioned or at least bought by Kajiro Matsukata (1865-1950), son of Prince Masayoshi Matsukata (Prime Mininister of Japan for two terms in the 1890s). Kajiro was president of Kawasaki Shipbuilding and dockyards from 1896 to 1923 and visited London in 1916-18 and Paris in 1921-22. He was a major collector of Western art with the intention of founding a national gallery of it in Japan, a project only achieved after his death as the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo (est. 1959). The two Wyllies are still part of his collection there. The two ships were scrapped in the mid 1920s under the terms of the Washington treaty.