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Winner of the Apollo Award for an Outstanding East Asian Work of Art from a Dealer

Blue lacquer kiseruzutsu with carved wave design
Late 19th century
Dimensions: length 21.6cm

Asian Art in London Apollo Award shortlist-2022

During the Meiji period a movement of artists and craftsmen became alarmed by the rapid westernisation of Japan and feared that traditional culture would be lost. Waves symbolised the seas beyond Japan and the implied threat of unwanted outside influences. Furthermore, a devastating tsunami in 1896 caused the loss of twenty-two thousand lives. Newspapers carried photos of the destruction, but as they had none of the tsunami itself they chose instead to reproduce Hokusai’s Kanagawa oki namiura (under the great wave of Kanagawa), created more than 60 years earlier. Hokusai’s image became embedded in national psyche.

Two late 19th century lacquer artists created works with intricately detailed wave designs: firstly Shibata Zeshin, who perfected a technique of combing the thickened wet lacquer, and secondly Rosetsu, a pupil of Shibata Shinsai, who carved his intricate design into rare dark blue lacquer in minute detail. Here Rosetsu has produced lacquer of a deep blue that echoes the Prussian blue hue of Hokusai’s wave. The lacquer is deeply carved, a feat of great technical mastery, and inlaid with tiny beads of silver to represent the drops of spray created by the crashing waves.

Blue lacquer kiseruzutsu with carved wave design
Blue lacquer kiseruzutsu with carved wave design signature
Blue lacquer kiseruzutsu with carved wave design signature

Asian Art in London 2022 - 25 YearsAs part of Asian Art in London, a selection of items will be exhibited at Japan House, 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8.
24th October to 20th November, 2022

Read more articles by Rosemary Bandini
Rosemary Bandini Japanese Netsuke Catalogue 2019

The latest fully illustrated catalogue – Japanese netsuke and Sagemono (Summer 2020) – is available

Specialising in antique Japanese netsuke and inro, Rosemary Bandini started her career in the Japanese department of Sotheby’s in 1977, before marrying Luigi Bandini of Eskenazi Ltd. With him, Rosemary worked on the preparation of exhibition catalogues until 1996, subsequently organizing two further exhibitions for Eskenazi. Read more.

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