Document Box with Design of Lotuses

Artist/maker unknown, Japanese

Geography:
Made in Japan, Asia

Period:
Meiji Period (1868-1912)

Date:
c. 1875

Medium:
Lacquer on wood with gold and silver maki-e (sprinkled design)

Dimensions:
5 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches (13.3 x 29.2 x 29.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 242, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:
2008-7-1a,b

Credit Line:
Gift of Frederick R. McBrien III, 2008

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Label:
Although the name of its craftsman is not known, this document box is a superb example of lacquerware from the early Meiji period. The first decade of the era was particularly noteworthy for the fine workmanship applied to all crafts, with the intention of competing on the world market. Here a raised design of lotus leaves and blossoms, some with "wormholes," stands out boldly against a black lacquer ground with powdered gold sprinkled throughout. The lotus motif continues along the four sides of the box, where the lotus stems rise from the swirling waters of a pond.

Additional information:
  • PublicationThe Art of Japanese Craft: 1875 to the Present

    Lacquer is prepared from the purified sap of the lac tree and applied in multiple layers. Japanese craftsmen invented unique techniques for decorating lacquer, among them one called maki-e (literally, "sprinkled picture"). While the surface is still damp, finely ground gold and silver powders are applied to the design. Although the name of the craftsman is not known, this document box is a superb example of lacquer ware from the early Meiji period. The first decade of the era was particularly noteworthy for the fine workmanship applied to all crafts, with the intention of competing on the world market. Here, a raised design of lotus leaves and blossoms, some with "worm holes," stands out boldly against the black lacquer ground with powdered gold sprinkled throughout. The lotus motif continues along the four sides of the box, where the lotus stems rise from the swirling waters of a pond. The interiors of the box and lid feature scattered lotus petals, patterned with fine lines, crane crests, lions and various blossoms on a powdered gold black ground. Felice Fischer, from The Art of Japanese Craft: 1875 to the Present, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin (2008), p. 17.


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