Battle of Tsushima

Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905.
Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905.

Historical Context

The destruction of the Russian fleet by Japan in 1905 shocked Europe and led to broad unrest throughout Russia. Tensions between the two nations had grown in recent years as Japan feared Russian encroachment on its possessions in China and Korea, especially as Russia wanted a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean.

The only decisive naval battle in history fought between modern steel battleship fleets, the confrontation at Tsushima was also the last time a defeated fleet's ships of the line surrendered on the high seas, and the first in which wireless telegraphy played an important role.

Russia lost almost 4,400 dead and 6,000 captured, as well as the loss of 21 ships sunk, 7 ships captured and 6 disarmed. In contrast Japan lost only 117 dead and 3 torpedo boats sunk.

The aftermath of the battle was severe and contributed to the Russian Revolution of 1905. The Russo-Japanese War ended a few months later with no further confrontations. The Romanov monarchy was weakened and its prestige damaged (not helped by the story that Tsar Nicholas II, when told about the loss during a tennis match, simply continued playing). It challenged the prevalent notion of European superiority and destabilized the balance of power in Europe, contributing to World War I.

Painting Info


Location painted: Strait of Tsushima, Japan

Related Events

  • 1905-05-27 Japanese fleet destroys the Russian East Sea fleet in the Battle of Tsushima, the only decisive clash between modern steel battleships in history

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