A commissioned piece representing the battle of Bun’ei near Hakata Bay, where the Samurai try to stop the Mongol invasion initiated by Kublai Khan in the year 1274 and 1281.
Legend has it that the first samurai knight plunged into the waves towards the Mongols’ ships, much to his own demise. The commissioner wanted to have a painting that would capture that moment. I put the focus therefor on the front figure and since in paper scrolls from that time samurai harnesses were depicted in reds and greens, I saw the opportunity to render the front figure’s harness in red, complementary contrasting the green sea. This contrast is conducive to the agressive impression it should convey. Like the commissioner and I agreed upon: A visitor who comes over to eat should be afraid looking at the painting while dining.
After bestowed upon with such a great task I did not know where to start. The aforementiond plunge into the sea was the only thing I could hold on to. So I saw lots of documentaries, read books, googled until I dropped in order to become known to the garments and troops movement of 13th century samurai warriors. The coat of arms of the Hōjō clan was essential of course since they lead the succesful opposition to the invasion.
I downloaded each and every picture of advancing horses, running straight at the spectator. Luckily there are a lot of reference photos out there like Japanese reenactments archers and also American civil war reeneactors on horseback. The goal was to orchestrate all figures into a big symphony of disarray, advancing towards the invador. I think the massiveness of the scene is only surpassed by my later painting ‘The Restoration of Bettie Page (2020)’ where there are even more goings on.
Click here to see it in my studio as a work in progress.
Click here to see the framed result, ready for the pick-up.
Oil on panel (120 x 165 x 0.9 cm)
Artist: Corné Akkers
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