28 November 2001
Japanese School, circa 1840
A Japanese album of original botanical watercolours. [No date but circa 1840]. 4° (269 x 200mm). 72 original pencil, watercolour and bodycolour drawings, 63 with integral manuscript identification in Japanese characters, 24 with inserted slips with manuscript inscriptions in a combination of Japanese characters and western script, the latter giving the botanical binomials. (Neatly repaired worming to upper margins.) Stitched with cream cloth headbands within limp blue-grey figured cloth covers speckled with gold leaf, modern green cloth box, red leather label to 'spine'.
A FINE LATE-EDO PERIOD ALBUM ILLUSTRATING A SELECTION OF PERENNIAL FLOWERING PLANTS GROWING IN JAPAN IN THE PERIOD JUST BEFORE IT OPENED UP TO TRADE WITH THE WEST. The species illustrated include flowering shrubs, bulbous plants, plants wih rhizomes, grasses, climbers. Amongst the plants included are chrysanthemums, garlic, hollyhock, iris, orchid, lilium, bamboo, yarrow and mint. The technique used combines the use of light washes (generally for the stems) with the heavy application of body colour (for the leaves), then, using a very thin brush, this bodycolour is overpainted with lines to suggest details (of leaf veins or petals). The looseness of some of the drawings suggests that these were not albums prepared for sale, but rather the private collection of an artist of great ability.
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On 6 and 7 of December Christie’s will offer almost 400 lots from a collection that includes works by Hals, Van Dyck, Leyster, Snyders and Jan Brueghel the Elder
Offered to benefit a new scholarship initiative from Bennington College, this work distils the unique form of abstraction for which the artist would become famous