Lot 337

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Rare Pair of Signed Portraits of Emperor Hirohito & Empress Kōjun, Presented to Guests 

A pair of signed photographs, in original Imperial frames, of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Kojun. Both measure 5.75" x 8.5", Japan, n.d. Both feature formal, full-length images, individually signed in bold Japanese calligraphy with black sumi ink by Hirohito and Empress Kojun. Housed in their original blue leather Imperial frames. Signed royal portraits presented in matching pairs are very scarce as they were given only to guests of the emperor. Light surface scratches are present on the frames. The easel is damaged on the back of Emperor Hirohito's frame. Otherwise, fine condition with bold signatures.

Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989), born Michinomiya Hirohito, was the emperor of Japan during World War II. He was originally designated as "Showa" or "Enlightened Peace" but became emperor in 1926 following the death of his father, Taisho. Despite having supreme authority in Japan, he did little more than ratify the policies of his ministers. Historians debate Hirohito's role in Japan's expansionist policies, which began in 1931 and was one of the major causes of Japan's involvement in the war. Some believe that Hirohito did not support Japan's imperialist ambitions but was powerless to stop hawkish officials in the military and government. Hirohito became the first Japanese emperor to be heard on the radio when he announced Japan's surrender on August 15, 1945.

Empress Kōjun (1903-2000) was born Princess Nagako of Kuni and was a member of the Imperial House of Japan. She married Crown Prince Hirohito on January 26, 1924, and their marriage marked the last time a future empress would be selected from a minor princely family. During the Second World War, Nagako was largely confined to palace grounds, and her duties involved tending to wounded generals and writing to families who had lost loved ones. She also assisted with growing vegetables and raising poultry. Although her personal views on the war are not well known, she is reported to have described the war years as "the hardest time of my life". She served as empress consort of Japan from 1926 until her husband's death in 1989, making her the longest-serving empress consort in Japanese history, and she would also become one of the last Japanese citizens who could remember what life was like inside the Japanese aristocracy in the years prior to WWII.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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September 6, 2023 11:00 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

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$50,000 + $5,000