Category Archive 'Japanese Art'
25 Feb 2019

Flying Cranes and Poetry

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Flying Cranes and Poetry.

Attributed to Tawaraya Sōtatsu (act. 1600-1640),

Calligrapher Hon’ami Kōetsu (Japanese, 1558 – 1637)

Edo Period. Japanese Poem sheet (shikishi) mounted as a hanging scroll, ink and gold on paper. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

05 Apr 2018

Lampshade, Japan, circa 1905.

Lampshade. Japan, circa 1905. Plique à jour enamel, silver. height 20.5 cm.

A plique à jour enamel lampshade with a rounded hexagonal bell-shaped body and petalled rim worked in white enamel with stylized flowers and foliate scrolls on a pale blue-grey ground. Applied with silver rims. Text and image via Khalili Collection.

It is said that it was Ando Jubei who introduced the technique of plique à jour (shotai jippo) to Japan; supposedly he first saw such work, made by Fernand Thesmar (see FR 284), at the Paris Exposition of 1900. But this cannot be true since the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore has a piece (inv. no. 44.156) in the technique labeled Namikawa Sosuke, and there is one in the 1896 Sosuke book (see E 7) said to have been exhibited at Chicago in 1893.

This technique, where the supporting metal is removed after firing to leave the glass and the wire alone, is notoriously difficult. It was an astonishing feat to acquire the skill so quickly and from such a slender source. Large pieces are particularly difficult to make as it is almost impossible to avoid some small cracks during the cooling process.

O. Impey, M. Fairley (eds.), Meiji No Takara: Treasures Of Imperial Japan: Enamel, London 1994, cat. 76.

J. Earle, Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji period from the Khalili Collection, London 2002, cat. 234, p. 327.

01 Jan 2018

Choki: Sunrise at New Year

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Eishosai Choki (fl. 1780s-1800s), Sunrise at New Year

A bijin (beautiful woman), presumably a courtesan, has risen early to greet the rising sun of the New Year at the waterfront at Fukagawa in Edo. The woman is adjusting the top of her kimono to protect against the chill of the early morning. In the lower-left is a blossoming fukujuso plant, emblematic of the New Year.

08 May 2017

Japanese Elephant

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— Elephant.
Place of origin: Japan
Period: Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Date: ca. 1250
Medium: Wood, metal, crystal, and pigments.

Via Belacqui.

01 Jan 2017

Choki: Sunrise at New Year

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Eishosai Choki (fl. 1780s-1800s), Sunrise at New Year

A bijin (beautiful woman), presumably a courtesan, has risen early to greet the rising sun of the New Year at the waterfront at Fukagawa in Edo. The woman is adjusting the top of her kimono to protect against the chill of the early morning. In the lower-left is a blossoming fukujuso plant, emblematic of the New Year.

16 Oct 2016

Bamboo Root Snake Okimono


Period: Meiji Taisho

Okimono for Sencha Tea Ceremony in the form of a snake, of bamboo root. Early Meiji era, circa 1870 – 1880.

With a collector’s wood storage box, inscribed on the exterior of the lid: Chikkon Tennen Hebi or Natural Bamboo Root Snake.

3-3/8″ high x 2-3/4″ x 2-5/8″

08 Apr 2016

Daruma Netsuke

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Daruma Netsuke, Japan, 19th century, boxwood.

27 Feb 2015

East Meets West



Miyata Nobukiyo: Dragon Teapot, c.1876, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

A well-modeled oriental dragon and Hokusai-style waves ornamenting a teapot with chaste, classical Adam lines.

When the Imperial Government banned the carrying of swords in 1876, makers of tsuba (Japanese sword guards), like Miyata Nobukiyo (Goto School, 1817-1884) found themselves obliged to apply their skills, formerly used to ornament the weapons of aristocratic warriors, to luxury products designed for Western sale.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

28 Aug 2014


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Hiroshige 1797-1858, Wind-Blown Grass Across Moon

Via Ratak Monodosico.

12 Jul 2013

17th Century Japanese Chest, Once Owned by Cardinal Mazarin, Sells For £6.3 million

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Daily Mail:

Company, had been sought after by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum since 1941

The story begins in 1640 when the head of the Dutch East India Company’s Japanese office commissioned an order including ‘four extraordinarily fine coffers’.

They were sold 18 years later with other lacquerware to French First Minister Cardinal Mazarin, and added to his extensive collection.

Two were later acquired by British poet William Beckford. Beckford’s daughter Euphemia married the Duke of Hamilton and the coffers would form part of the Hamilton Palace contents sale of 1882, staged to raise funds for the palace upkeep.

The V&A bought one coffer and the other, a larger one, was sold to collector Sir Trevor Lawrence, then to Welsh colliery owner Sir Clifford Cory.

When Sir Clifford died in 1941, as one expert phrased it: ‘It disappeared off the radar.’

Unknown to the art world, a London-based Polish doctor called Zaniewski had bought it at a bargain price – and later sold it to a French Shell Oil engineer in 1970 for £100.

The French engineer took the chest home with him to the Loire Valley, where his children used the chest to hide in, and where it served for years as a television stand and later as a liquor cabinet.

Finally, after the owner’s death, his now-in-her-50s daughter called in the Rouillac Auction House which recognized the chest as one of the most sought after art objects in the world.

It was purchased at auction on June 9th for £6.3 million ($9.5 million) by the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum.

Sun story

Rouillac auction Lot 80

The exterior features gold and lacquer decorations depicting scenes from the Tale of Genji, views of Ishiyama temple where Murasaki composed the Tale of Genji, while the interior is decorated with hunting scenes from the Story of the Soga Brothers.


en français

06 Jul 2011

Some Zen

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Ido Tea Bowl “Okugourai — undecorated piece” [井戸茶碗 銘 大高麗], Tokugawa Art Museum, Tokyo

From Collections & Recollections,

Ido ware was a cheap earthenware with a natural ash glaze made in Korea in the 15th century and used widely by commoners as rice bowls. After Ido ware appeared in Japan, tea masters began to use the larger Ido rice bowls as tea bowls, finding in their rough simplicity a particularly suitable to Zen expression of wabi-sabi (侘寂).

Some observations on tea bowls and Ido ware from Sanjiro Tanaka, a highly-respected contemporary Japanese ceramic artist.

Evaluating a tea bowl:

When looking at a tea bowl, the most important thing is how the rim was made. By looking at the rim, the general technical quality can be determined. Depending on the shape, the rim changes. The softness of the rim, how it feels–all of this makes the rim the most important point to watch. Also the incision on the foot rim is important. The height of the bowl and the diameter of the body and its relation to the height and width of the foot rim are factors. This balance is something I have not yet accomplished. However, when judging whether something is good and looking at it yourself, the foot rim is an extremely important element to take into consideration. The incision in the foot rim indicates age, technique, and character. In other words, like a man’s sexual organ, it is the most important point and cannot be ignored when looking at the tea bowl.


On Ido tea bowls:

Ido tea bowls are foremost healthy looking and bright. There’s also a kind of melancholy to them and they stand upright like warriors. The clay is rough and has a depth to it, and when holding one in your hands, it has a special feel to it. Certainly it is a tea bowl for a man of high position. …

The aesthetics of this tea bowl are completely in a class of its own. Even after 400 years, no one disagrees that this is the “king” in the world of tea ceremony.The old Korean tea bowls have many stunning surprises. First of all, the beauty of their shape, the choice of clay, the way the clay is made, and why a certain glaze is used on a certain clay. … This was the highest level of tea bowl making. Moreover, tea ceremony ware was among the highest prizes given by the leaders Nobunaga and Hideyoshi and so the highest artistic levels were demanded. Like swords, land, and status, the Korean tea bowls were an important part of the social order in the Momoyama Period.

Tea and zen:

I am especially interested in the Sengoku (Warring States) Period. The warriors during the Sengoku Period were always ready for a battle and in this setting, they sought serenity and elegance, drinking a cup of tea before going to battle. “Here is where we throw our lives away,” they said when driven into a corner.

01 Apr 2009

Kusho: Writing in the Sky

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Shodo, the art of Japanese calligraphy, reaches its fullest artistic development in Sosho (“grass script”) ideograms produced in free and hasty movements with the intention of deliberately embodying a philosophic concept in the kinesthetic action of creation.

The Japanese artist Shinichi Maruyama (b. 1968) combines Sosho calligraphy with photography in an art form referred to as Kusho (“sky writing”), capturing ink and water in mid-air at speeds of 1/7500 of a second .

His first American exhibition of 23 photographs of Kusho images was recently held at Bruce Silverstein‘s Gallery on West 24th Street in New York.

Chris Ro published a number of Maruyama’s images.

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic reviewed the exhibition and profiled the artist.

From Elliot Glaser via Andrew Sullivan.

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