• The Decorative Arts Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2827

    The Decorative Arts Sale

    22 - 23 September 2009, Amsterdam

  • Lot 196

    Two Japanese export lacquer portrait medallions


    Price Realised  


    Two Japanese export lacquer portrait medallions
    Edo Period, late 18th Century
    Decorated in gold hiramaki-e and kinji on a roironuri ground with a bust portrait of Frideric III and FL.CL.Contantinus.P.F.AVG., the reverse inscribed, both with suspension ring, the second with retouches
    12.4 cm. long (2)

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    18th Century lacquerware made in Japan for the European market, was probably exclusively exported by the Dutch East Indies Company via Deshima, which had the sole privilege of trade via Japan. Two chief merchants of Deshima, Mr. I. Titsingh and Baron Johan Frederick van Reede tot de Parkeler were especially interested in lacquerwork during the last quarter of the 18th Century. Around 1780 there was a sudden fashion for oval copper medallions covered with black lacquer and decorated in low relief with portraits in gold hiramaki-e. A hanging ring was fixed on a triangular support atop the medallions. Different series can be distinguished, for instance, series with portraits of famous Europeans based on prints from L'Europe Illustre compiled by Dreux du Radier (Paris, 1755-65) or series depicting Roman emperors, Governors-General of the VOC, illustrious Chinese, or Dutch admirals. The names of these famous men were usually written in Latin capitals around the rim. Captions that occur on the print are rendered in a shortened version on the back of the medallions. A number of existing portraits are signed and dated proving that they were made at Sasaya in Japan between 1787 and 1793. For further discussion of these medallions see: Oliver Impey, Christiaan Jörg, Japanese Export Lacquer 1580 -1850, Hotei Publishing, Amsterdam, 2005, p.48-52, p.216-217. The medallion of Herman Boerhaave and the matching copper engraving for example, are illustrated on p.49, pl.53, 54.

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