A RECTANGULAR LACQUER TRAY
THE FLORENCE AND HERBERT IRVING COLLECTION
A RECTANGULAR LACQUER TRAY

SHIBATA ZESHIN (1807-1891), JAPAN, MEIJI PERIOD, LATE 19TH CENTURY

Details
A RECTANGULAR LACQUER TRAY
SHIBATA ZESHIN (1807-1891), JAPAN, MEIJI PERIOD, LATE 19TH CENTURY
Decorated in gold, silver, red, black and yellow hiramaki-e and takamaki-e against an ishimeji (imitation stone) ground with millet on a tea kettle and with a grasshopper perched on the handle, signed Gyonen nanajusan okina Zeshin [Zeshin at the age of seventy-three]
14 ¾ in. (37.6 cm.) long
Provenance
Klaus F. Naumann, Tokyo, 1997.
The Irving Collection, no. 3863.

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Lot Essay

One of many lacquer techniques Zeshin created was bronze-lacquering, or seido-nuri. For the ground of this tray, he created a dark-green ground by scattering bronze and charcoal dusts on the wet lacquer and polishing them with oils and powders. The surface is textured with a wrinkled pattern to create the luster and tone of aged bronze ware. He used red lacquer, combined with clear lacquer and black lacquer shading, for the large copper kettle used by farmers to carry tea to the fields during the festive autumn harvest. Straw is stuffed into the kettle spout, perhaps to keep out insects. The grasshopper clinging to the handle is incised to great effect. Freshly harvested rice stalks are painted in raised gold, silver and blue-gold or ao-kin, an alloy of gold and silver. There are other trays with this design, indicating that the Irving lacquer tray was originally one of a set of five.
Other examples from this set, all nearly identical, are in the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Khalili Collection, London, and, formerly the Edson Collection. For the Honolulu tray, see The Art of Shibata Zeshin: The Mr. and Mrs. James E. O’Brien Collection at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1979), pl. 58. For the Khalili tray, see the cover image of Shibata Zeshin: Masterpieces of Japanese Lacquer from the Khalili Collection, London, 1997. For the tray formerly in the Edson Collection, see Edo Chic, Meiji Technique: The Art of Shibata Zeshin featuring the Edson Collection, Tokyo, 2009, pl. E-21. See, also, Shibata Zeshin ten, Shibata Zeshin exhibition, Tokyo: Itabashi Museum, 1980, pl. 54.

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