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Japanese Export Lacquer Tea Chest with depictions of birds and insects Circa 1880

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Reference: TC565

Description:
TC565: Japanese Export lacquer tea chest with raised gilded lacquer depicting birds and insects in  watery backgrounds. Inside there are two foil lined canisters,  their hinged lids decorated with exquisite depictions of insects, again in raised lacquer. The inside of the chest is in red lacquer sprinkled with gold powder,  nashiji. Circa 1880.

Origin: Japan; Circa: 1880. Materials: Lacquer on wood.

Size: It measures  inches wide  by  inches deep and it is  inches  high including feet: cm wide by cm deep by cm high.

Condition: good overall,  working lock and key,  see images.
As each person has different criteria and antiques by their very nature have wear  please enlarge the images and ask for extra information as needed. 

 

 TC565: Japanese Export lacquer tea chest with raised gilded lacquer depicting birds and insects in  watery backgrounds.Inside there are two foil lined canisters their hinged lids decorated with exquisite depictions of insets, again in raisedlacquer. The inside of the chest is in red lacquer sprinkled with gold powder,  <i>nashiji. </i>Circa 1880 Enlarge Picture

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Notes

Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened Liberty & Co in Regent Street in 1875.  Originally called "East India House" Initially it was an Oriental Warehouse selling imports from Japan and the Middle East.  This was owned by Farmer and Rogers. Liberty employed three people: a sixteen year old called Hannah Browning; a young Japanese boy called Hara Kitsue and William Judd who had earlier worked with Arthur at farmer & Rogers'. http://www.oursocialmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/microsoft-word-liberty-history-formatted.pdf

Japanese lacquer mainly came to England in the late 19th Century following the 1854 treaty of peace. In 1862  Great Exhibition Japanese objects were shown for the first time.  After the exhibition the objects were sold at the Oriental Warehouse in Regent Street.

The Arts and Crafts movement embraced Japanese design, which was perceived as simple and striking. Some of the lacquer decoration was extremely complex and multilayered, but the whole composition could be taken in at a glance and could give the false impression of simplicity.

See: /oriental.htm

When more gold reserves were found in Japan the Japanese artists perfected the craft of powdering gold very finely and mixing it with lacquer, making it possible to paint or build layers of gold dust and lacquer on the pre prepared surfaces.

The sprinkled gold and other metal dust technique, which is associated with Japanese work, is also found to a much lesser degree on Chinese objects. Although the decorative styles are on the whole distinguishable, there are overlaps to the extent of confusion.

 The depiction of insects is a long tradition for Japanese lacquer craftsmen . Japanese document  box  (fubako) with depictions of  crickets in painted  silver makie is reported in  The British Museum Quarterly Vol.31 No.1/2 Autumn 1966  http://www.jstor.org/pss/4422957 

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See:Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society, 1700--1880 
Antigone Clarke & Joseph O'Kelly,
ISBN: 0764316885

"The tree, which produces the best lacquer, is the Rhus Vernicifera, Ch' ichu which is indigenous to China . At first the trees grew wild but later, as their value was understood, they were cultivated and even periodically protected by law.

"The trees ooze the best sap when they are a few years old. Depending on weather and soil conditions they can mature in five years and continue to yield good lacquer until they are about ten. The best time for gathering the sap is during the warmer months of the year, when the trees are actively growing and the liquid flows and rises in greater quantities. It also oozes more freely before the cold weather causes it to freeze. The trees are mostly found on high ground, above six and a half thousand feet, where temperatures are very low in winter. In earlier times, before the plains were cleared for agriculture, Rhus trees were also grown on lower ground.

"Traditionally the sap was gathered by incising the trees horizontally and allowing the liquid to trickle into cup shaped containers of copper or bamboo, which were tied under the cuts. When the sap first came out, it was dirty white, somewhat like a grayish mushroom. Exposure to light and air thickened and darkened it.

 

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Its  Interesting to compare this depiction of birds with a version  on a Chinese export lacquer caddy:  
Tc130 A Chinese export lacquer tea caddy depicting groups of birds highlighted in red lacquer. Circa 1840.

 

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Please click on images to enlarge or   | slide show  |thumbnail index | Request current  list of available tea caddies.

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Please click on images to enlarge or   | slide show  |thumbnail index | Request current  list of available tea caddies.

 

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There is something exquisite about the  Japanese depictions of insects in lacquer.  The raised lacquer has a 3D  quality. and even the veins of the wings are accurate. 

 

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Please click on images to enlarge or   | slide show  |thumbnail index | Request current  list of available tea caddies.

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Please click on images to enlarge

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Please click on images to enlarge or   | slide show  |thumbnail index | Request current  list of available tea caddies.

 

All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com