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edo period (18th-19th century)
The writing box of the set decorated on the exterior in brilliant gold hiramaki-e and takamaki-e with three crests of the Kuki family, tree-peonies and rocks on a lustrous nashiji ground, the uppermost crest and sections of the blossoms and leaves additionally covered by gold foil, the contours of the rocks and the ground accented by okibirame and the crevices of the rocks indicated by uchikomi; the underside of the lid designed in bright gold lacquer with one flying and two wading cranes, a stream and grasses, the shoreline delineated by okibirame, the mist in the middle ground togidashi and the sky area above nashiji, the lower section of the box fitted with two removable trays for writing implements, including a paper-pricker and ink cake holder with matching gold lacquer shafts patterned with scrolling foliage in gold hiramaki-e and applied with silver terminals, a central removable tray holding a silver round mizuire applied with an openwork silver chrysanthemum floret and set in a silver and gilt-silver saucer, and holding an ink stone lacquered on the sides and edges in gold and inscribed on the base Kenkon seiseki (purest stone in the universe) and signed Nakamura Chobei and with kao (the name used by members of a renowned family of ink stone carvers who always signed with this name), each of the trays lacquered with a continuation of the stream and grasses shown on the underside of the lid and with a nashiji background, repeated in the area beneath the trays and on the base of the box

The large document box rectangular with an expanded version of the design on the exterior of the writing box in the same techniques, three crests on the lid, two covered in gold foil, and two on each side, one of the two covered in gold foil, the interior of the box and the base nashiji and the silver cord fittings cast in the form of the crest on the boxes with a large cord ring
Writing box 8½ x 8 5/8 x 2in. (24.1 x 21.9 x 5cm.); document box 18¼ x 14 x 5 1/8in. (46.3 x 35.8 x 14.9cm.) (2)
Viscount Kuki

Lot Essay

Osaka Bijutsu Club, organized by Uemura Hobei, Kuki shishaku kei goshozohin nyusatsu (auction of the Viscount Kuki collection), (Osaka: February 10, 1934), no. 24

This set was most likely the property of the second Viscount Kuki, namely Kuki Takateru (b. 1870), a collector of paintings, lacquer and swords who lived in Kobe. He was a descendant of Kuki Yoshitaka, the commander of the fleet that accompanied Hideyoshi's army in its invasion of Korea in 1592. His father, the first Viscount, was Kuki Takayoshi (1837-1891), last feudal lord of the Sanda clan in Settsu province a few miles north of Kobe. Takayoshi was an imperial household official and served as an attendant to the emperor; he and his family converted to Christianity after meeting American missionaries in Kobe. Takayoshi made his fortune importing pharmaceutical goods and investing in land in the port city. In 1897 Kuki Takateru's American-educated sister, Yoshiko, married Matsukata Kojiro (1865-1950), the famous collector and president of Kawasaki Shipyards in Kobe who had attended Rutgers College with the Class of 1889.

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