A veteran of both World Wars, the RAF officer whose collection these two beautifully made boxes come from, purchased them during his stay in Asia. Made during the Meiji Period, these boxes are excellent examples of the craftmanship of the period.
Named for Meiji Emperor, the Meiji Period lasted from 1868 until the Emperor’s death in 1912. During this period, Japan’s leaders realised that the historic skills of the metalworker, lacquerer, enameller and ceramic artist could play a vital part in the struggle to compete in international markets. The unique blending of traditional design and international taste that defines Meiji art produced pieces that are remarkable in the quality of their craftsmanship.
This fine Shibayama inlaid ‘millefleur’ box of the Meiji Period is inlaid on all sides with a mass of overlapping flowerheads & foliage, including chrysanthemums, peonies, magnolias and cherries.
Shibayama refers to the intricate carving and minute encrustation of various materials on to a ground material. The inlay typically consists of mother-of-pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell and coral, the combination creating a delightful contrast of colours and textures. Set in high relief above a wood, lacquer and sometimes ivory base, the inlay depicts figures, flora and fauna with a highly appealing three-dimensional effect. Shibayama as an art form was founded by the late Edo period craftsman Ōnoki Senzō, who named this technique after his hometown Shibayama in present-day Chiba prefecture.
This kodansu, also of the Meiji Period, has hinged doors inset with two gold-lacquer panels that are embellished with typical Shibayama inlay of blossoming branches. The top is decorated with a gold-lacquer fan inlaid with birds amongst blossoming branches.