Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891)
Tokyo, circa 1880
A miniature hand-warmer brazier lacquered in imitation of pottery and decorated with unohana (Deutzia crenata) growing against a simple bamboo fence and silhouetted against the moon.
Signed with a ‘rat’s tooth’ incised signature: Zeshin. The base of the brazier signed: Shinjiro in a manner seeming to imitate a potter’s signature carved into wet clay, possibly an expression of homage to the Kyoto raku master, Chojiro.
The hakogaki outer lid is inscribed 是真翁作、卯の花蒔絵、手炉。佐具郎識。印：さくろう
Zeshin-ō saku. Unohana makie, teaburi. Sakurō shiki, with the seal Sakurō (in hiragana script).
[Made by (an old man) Zeshin, Makie (lacquer) koro with Unohana design, authenticated by Sakur–o]
The inside of the cover inscribed: 真作無疑也。竹真。印：有敬 （荘司竹真＝古満竹真）
Shinsaku utagai naki nari. Chikushin with the seal Yūkei (?) [This is undoubtedly an authentic work. Examined by Chikushin, with the seal Y–ukei (? )]
The brazier is accompanied by two further items: a miniature suzuribako and a pair of miniature paper hina dolls, their robes decorated with a wisteria design, each in a hakogaki with an attestation from Chikushin that they were ‘cherished items’ belonging to Old Man Zeshin.
A larger hakogaki contains all three items, the outer cover inscribed: 是真翁作。卯ノ花蒔絵、火鉢。 是真翁、遺愛品、二点。
Zeshin-ō saku. Unohana makie, hibachi. Zeshin-ō, iai-hin niten. [Hand-brazier, makie (lacquer) design of the unohana flower (Deutzia crenata) made by Zeshin. Two other cherished items belonged to the late master Zeshin]. The inside of this cover has an attestation by Ikeda Sensai, the adopted son of Ikeda Taishin.