Lot 715. KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760 - 1849)
Gaifu kaisei [South Wind, Clear Weather], 'Red Fuji,' from the series Fugaku sanjurokkei [The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji], signed Hokusai aratame litsu hitsu [from the brush of Hokusai, changing to litsu], published by Nishimuraya Yohachi [Eijudo], very good light colours with blue outline, and very good condition, small wormholes on the mountain and slight foxing in the sky
Oban yoko-e. Estimation : 80,000 - 100,000 British pounds
Notes : This fine early and important impression uses a lighter and noticeably more delicate palette where the red is replaced by pink and creates a very different mood compared to the normal 'Red Fuji'. The pale green reaches further up the mountain than in other cases and forms a distinct curve where it becomes pink and the sky is a much lighter blue.1 This impression is exceedingly rare and unusual, with only five copies known to exist, one of which is held by the Atami Museum of Art.2
1. Tim Clark, One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, (London, 2001), no.53
2. MOA Bijutsukan, Katsushika Hokusai: Fugaku sanju-rokkei, (Atami, 1982), no.1
Lot n°174. A rare and impressive Kutani dish
Fuku mark, Edo Period (late 17th Century)
The large circular dish with wide everted rim decorated in iron red, green, blue, black, and aubergine enamels with long tailed birds in branches among flowers and foliage, bordered by vibrant floral panels, the reverse with scrolling karakusa with fitted wood box, made in 1818. 37cm. diameter - Estimation : 150,000 - 200,000 British pounds
Lot n°146. An Important Aesthetic movement Cabinet mounted with Japanese Lacquer
Attributed to Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), the lacquer, Momoyama Period (16th Century)
In two sections, the lower with various drawers and shelves, the upper with panels from a shrine. 130.5cm. high - Estimation : 200,000 - 300,000 British pounds
Provenance : Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read
Notes : Although tantalisingly lacking any information concerning its original ownership, this cabinet is an important and intriguing piece of the kind of 'Art Furniture' created during the key decades of the Aesthetic Movement in London in the 1870s and 80s. The design of the cabinet is a sophisticated exercise in adapting a furniture type generally rather larger in scale to create a small, self-consciously pretty piece. Synthesising aspects of both the 'Queen Anne revival' and orientalising tastes, it successfully combines two of the principal enthusiasms of the leading protagonists of the Cult of Beauty. Within this broader context, the cabinet can further be associated with a distinctive group of pieces, many of which re-use high-quality earlier elements such as painted or carved panels, Chinese and Japanese ceramics and fragments of genuine Asian lacquer in their construction; almost all the finest pieces in this group can be connected with the coterie of avant-garde artists, architects and designers which centred around James McNeill Whistler, E.W.Godwin and Thomas Jeckyll and their more discerning patrons.
Our cabinet is of small size and may well have been intended for a lady's boudoir. It is of excellent workmanship and constructed, somewhat unusually for Aesthetic furniture, of mahogany of a pleasing tone. The upper part consists of three compartments each closed by a door, whilst the lower section is composed of six shallow drawers, all lined with crimson silk velvet, above a lower open shelf intended, no doubt, for the diplay of oriental china. No cabinet-maker's name apears on any of the parts, but the brass locks fitted to each drawer are stamped with English marks.
The most striking feature of the cabinet, indeed perhaps its very raison d'etre, is the set of panels of Japanese lacquer work which have been inserted to form the two flanking doors and the sides of the upper section. So exactly do these panels fit within their framing mouldings and so perfectly proportioned is the cabinet, that it would seem that its entire form and scale have been precisely contrived to display these pieces to best advantage. The panels are in the in the so-called namban or 'Southern barbarian' style in which foreign influences both from Europe and elsewhere in the East had begun to influence and change the traditional Japanese manner of lacquer decoration. The panels are richly ornamented with geometric borders surrounding designs of dense, finely-drawn leaves, flowers and birds carried out in gold, silver and mother-of-pearl on a black ground. They can be identified with certainty as having come from a retable or portable shrine of a type known as seigan and made by Japanese craftsmen for the use of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries.
No more than forty such shrines, either complete or fragmentary, are known to survive; most were made in the final decades of the Momoyama period between about 1580 and 1600, and none is later in date than the early 1620s, when the persecution of the European missionaries and their Japanese converts initiated by the second Tokugowa shogun, Hidetada made possession of such objects punishable by death. All conform to a tryptych arrangement in which a pair of lacquered doors are hinged to enclose a painted sacred image - usually a madonna and child or crucifixion scene. The paintings themselves, invariably on wood or copper panels are usually of European origin, but some are the work of Japanese artisans of the 'Seminary of Painters', many of of whom became adept at copying European models. The backs of seigan are also decorated en suite with the doors and it is just such a broad back panel that has been divided in two to provide the sides of our cabinet. Even as early as the 1870s, these shrines were known and prized by collectors and it is thus unlikely that an undamaged example would have been mutilated in order to make use of the panels. Nor indeed would the painted image from a shrine have been deemed suitable for use in a piece of drawing-room furniture. It seems highly probable therefore that when our cabinet was projected the shrine had already been dismembered and a small, entirely unrelated but more appropriately decorative picture was sought as a substitute to fit within the existing decorated frame of the shrine in order to create a door to the central compartment.
This new panel, which seems to have fitted quite neatly into the original lacquer and mother-of-pearl frame, is painted in oils and is almost certainly by a Dutch painter of the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. The scene, which depicts a group of birds including peacocks, is in the style of Melchior Hondecoeter (1636-95). Hondecoeter, the son of a landscape painter and nephew of Jan Baptist Weenix, worked mainly in Amsterdam and the Hague, where he made a succesful career specialising in exotic birds and domestic fowl in farmyard or more fanciful landscape settings. He became known by the rather ludicrous soubriquet of 'the Raphael of the Birds' and his work remained popular and was much imitated well into the eighteenth century.
It is interesting that somewhat similar panels in Hondecoeter's manner - though of widely varying quality - are to be found incorporated in English giltwood chimney-glasses of the restrained rococo type popular in the reign of George II. Admired by collectors in the Aesthetic period, such pieces were considered appropriate for rooms in the fashionable 'Queen Anne' taste. Mrs Haweis, writing in her influential book The Art of Decoration in 1889 observed that even 'cultivated' people were possessed of a 'charming indifference to the trammels of dates' when it came to assembling and describing artistic furnishings. Significantly, she also went on to link the then current craze for oriental lacquer with the enthusiasm of the furniture-makers and connoisseurs of the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV for japanning and the re-use of real Asian pieces.
It was the display at the 1862 Exhibition in South Kensington of items from the collection assembled by Sir Rutherford Alcock, first British Consul in Japan that had given many artists and designers their first sight of high quality Japanese artifacts. Encouraged in a general way by Rossetti and Whistler, whose principal interest lay in blue-and white china, designers such as Godwin, Nesfield and Jeckyll began to create sophisticated furniture that revealed a new understanding of Japanese forms. As has been suggested, it is with the productions of this singular coterie that the present cabinet can be most closely compared. It shares in particular a number of features to be seen in documented commissions by Thomas Jeckyll.
Jeckyll had been drawn into the group through his friendship with the painter Thomas Armstrong, who had in turn known Whistler and been part of the so-called 'Paris Gang'. Also through Armstrong, Jeckyll had met Edward Green of Heath Old Hall, Wakefield, for whom he designed several remarkable pieces, including an overmantel incorporating lacquer panels and Japanese porcelain dishes. Jeckyll also made the designs for the shelves and other cabinet-work in the dining room of the London mansion of the shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, the room which Whistler transformed into the celebrated Peacock Room. Far less controversial was the work which Jeckyll carried out for Alecco Ionides, also a friend of Whistler and brother of the collector Constantine Ionides, the great benefactor of the V&A. The Ionides clan, successful Greek merchants, were intimately linked with Rossetti, Whistler, Burne-Jones and Morris and lived with some considerable degree of opulence at the centre of the artistic community in Holland Park. Although Alecco later had his house decorated by Morris & Co. in the 1880s, much still remained of his earlier, and it might be argued, more avant-garde decoration and furnishings that were carried out by Thomas Jeckyll. The hall, like Leyland's dining room, was filled with elaborate shelves for blue-and-white china, whilst the billiard room was lined with panelling which framed Japanese prints, embroideries and a frieze formed of lacquer panels. Jeckyll also designed chimneypieces and furniture for the house, including several items for the main and other bedrooms.
Two pieces from this dispersed Ionides suite, a small bedside cupboard and a larger and more elaborate dressing table, were rediscovered by the collectors Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read and were acquired following their deaths in 1972 by the V&A. A small hanging cupboard and wardrobe with lacquer panels set in the doors also survive. It is with these pieces, that our cabinet has the closest affinities. The Ionides pieces are of walnut and ebony rather than mahogany, but all have similar strong, rectilinear lines defined by incised mouldings meeting at mitred corners and an overall feel that is arguably inspired as much by Chinese furniture design as Japanese. Most intriguing is the fact that the Ionides dressing table and wardrobe and our cabinet have what appear to be identical drawer handles of drop form, the loops again owing as much to Chinese as Japanes forms. These stylistic affinities have also led another piece, a desk currently on the London art market to be linked with Jeckyll. This piece, shown in the recent Jeckyll exhibition at the Bard Centre in New York, not only shares details of styling and construction but also re-uses panels of good quality Japanese lacquer as the doors to two compartments.
Stephen Calloway, Curator, Prints. The Victoria and Albert Museum
He is currently preparing the exhibition 'The Cult of Beauty; the Aesthetic Movement in Britain 1860-1900. It will be at the Legion of Honour Museum, San Francisco in Summer 2010; The Corcoran Gallery, Washington Autumn 2010 and V&A Spring 2011. The curator would be grateful if the cabinet could be loaned at that time for the exhibition
Lot n°186. A FORMAL UNIFORM. MEIJI PERIOD (late 19th century)
A black woollen 'daireifuku', formal court uniform, consisting of trousers, waistcoat, jacket and hat richly decorated with gold braid designs of scrolling and kiri mon [paulonia badges] and trimming, with a gilt dress sword, the hat with white ostrich feathers, together with a lacquered metal hatbox bearing the initials HI and a suitcase for the uniform and sword embossed with the same initials
The 'daireifuku' uniform was worn by both the Civil Service, the Military, and the nobility of Japan on special occasions at court from 1871 until the early 1940s. All members of the Imperial household wore the uniform, and a contemporary postcard shows officials and stablemen wearing versions of it. The rank of the wearer is indicated by the number of petals on each of the gold sets of paulonia leaves, the 'kiri mon' of the Imperial Household, which are emblazoned over the jacket in gold braid, and also on the gold buttons. In this case the 'gonanakiri mon' (five and seven) with two sets of five and a central set of seven petals shows that the uniform is a 'bunkan daireifuku', for civilians of the highest rank.
Ito Hirobumi, a retainer of the Choshu clan, was one of the 'Choshu Five' who secretly left Japan in 1863, when such was strictly prohibited, with the help of Thomas Glover, a founder of Mitsubishi and the Kirin Breweries. He is believed to have stayed in Glover House, Aberdeen, while studying English. Ito had a distinguished career. He was to be deputy leader of the Iwakura Mission to Europe USA 1871, and to become Prime Minister in 1888 for the first time, and again on three later occasions. Among his many diplomatic accomplishments was the peace treaty with China (1895), and structuring of the Japanese Constitution which was adopted in 1889 in a ceremony in the Imperial palace at which Ito undoubtedly wore this uniform. In 1905 he became resident general in Korea, and was made a Koshaku, or Duke in 1907. In 1897 he accompanied Prince Arisugawa to represent the Emperor Meiji at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. As a Duke he was entitled to wear the highest rank uniform of the nobility, which is that shown in the photograph. He was shot dead by a Korean assassin in 1909.
Portraits of Ito show him wearing both the bunkan daireifuku, and later the yushakusha daireifuku without the gold braid on the jacket and with epaulettes, fitting his princely status.
For the first decades of the Meiji Period the uniforms were made by Henry Pool, the oldest tailor in Saville Row, London, who supplied the royal families of most nations. Later they were made in Osaka, and like this uniform, of somewhat finer quality than those made in Saville Row. For a sword belonging to Ito Hirobumi, see lot 221, which, together with this uniform and other effects of Ito Hirobumi was passed down by the Saburi family. Estimation : 10,000 - 15,000 British pounds
Provenance : Prince Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909)
Lot N°708. KITAGAWA UTAMARO (1754 - 1806)
From the series Toji zensei bijin zoroe [An Array of the Outstanding Beauties of Our Day], one of Utamaro's most striking compositions, the courtesan Somenosuke of Matsubaya opening a letter with a hairpin and shielding the contents from prying eyes, signed Utamaro hitsu, published by Wakasaya Yoichi, collector's seal Vever, fine impression, colours and condition. Oban tate-e - Estimation : 15,000 - 20,000 British pounds
Provenance : Henri Vever
Notes : Sold, Sotheby's, Highly Important Japanese Prints, Illustrated Books, Drawings and Fan Painings from the Henri Vever Collection Part I, (London, 1974), no.186
Lot N°783. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
Kanagawa oki nami ura [Under the great wave off Kanagawa], from the series Fugaku sanjurokkei [The thirty-six views of Mount Fuji], signed Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu, published by Nishimuraya Yohachi [Eijudo], blue outline, good impression and colour, vertical centre fold, slight wear to edges. Oban yoko-e - Estimaation : 20,000 - 30,000 British pounds
Lot N°8. A Ko-Imari bottle vase
Edo Period (mid-late 17th century)
Oviform, with everted neck rim decorated in iron red, yellow, green, aubergine and black enamels with three panels of various flowers and foliage, including tree peony, surrounded by hanabishi design. 34.7cm. high - Estimation : 10,000 - 15,000 British pounds
Lot n°168. A pair of rare Imari figures
Edo Period (late 17th century)
Each modelled as a karako, holding a two handled vase with a puppy playing at their feet, their jackets and undergarments decorated in iron red, green, aubergine enamels and gilt on underglaze blue, with slightly varying designs of chrysanthemums and Buddhist emblems. 33.5 cm high - Estimation : 20,000 - 30,000 British pounds
Lot n°9. A kakiemon koro [incense burner]
Edo Period (late 17th century)
Modelled as a karashishi with a detachable head, decorated in iron red, green, yellow, black enamels, on an ochre ground. 28cm. high - Estimation : 20,000 - 30,000 British pounds
Note : For a similar larger example, sold in these Rooms, see 28th October 1987, lot 129
Christie's : Japanese Art & Design Including the Robert Moore Collection 5 November 2007, 10:30 am - 8 King Street, St. James's, London - www.christies.com