Chinese Admiral Ding Ruchang Preparing to Commit Suicide after Surrendering to Japanese Forces

Toshihide Migita (Japanese, 1862 – 1925)
Woodblock print
Each : 13 7/8 x 9 1/8 in. (35.24 x 23.18 cm)
Work : 13 7/8 x 28 1/8 in. (35.24 x 71.44 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

In the middle of the 19th century, China experienced a devastating civil war fought between the forces of the ruling Qing Dynasty and the forces of the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace (Taiping tianguo), a popular religious sect led by a man who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. At the same time, China was also embroiled in conflicts with Great Britain and other European powers that wanted to expand their colonial influence in East Asia. In response to these challenges, the Qing government launched a “Self-Strengthening Movement” in the 1860s that aimed to restore and modernize China by combining traditional Chinese intellectual and cultural knowledge with selected scientific, economic and military knowledge borrowed from Western countries. During the 1870s and 1880s it seemed like the Self-Strengthening Movement was yielding positive results. But in 1894, China went to war with Japan over control of Korea and suffered a drastic defeat that led many to question the legitimacy and effectiveness of Self-Strengthening. This print depicts a crucial moment in the Sino-Japanese War when the commander of China’s modernized navy, Admiral Ding Ruchang, learns that his forces have been defeated in the Battle of Weihaiwei and decides to commit suicide rather than surrender to the Japanese.

Object Type