Natsume Tea Caddy by Akihide, Autumn Flowers by Bamboo Fence; Meiji period; 19th century. Maki-e sprinkled gold and gold foil on black lacquer ground; H: 6.8 cm.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Erik Thomsen Asian Art will present a select collection of Japanese lacquer boxes in Golden Treasures: Japanese Gold Lacquer Boxes, an Asia Week exhibition held at its new, purpose-built gallery in New York City. The exhibition will run from March 16 – May 28, 2011 at Erik Thomsen Asian Art, 23 E. 67th Street.

Thomsen’s exhibition focuses on small-scale boxes of the past two centuries, a period of exceptional artistry in Japan in the medium. During this period, Japanese artists mastered the technique of creating wafer-thin layers of lacquer that built up and, when infused with gold powder and other materials, created a luminous three-dimensional effect. As a whole, the boxes at Thomsen’s gallery present a virtual catalogue of Japanese lacquer techniques and design.

Among the highlights of Golden Treasures are natsume tea caddies, kogo incense boxes, tebako accessory boxes, and ryoshibako paper boxes, each ornamented with the highly polished, lustrous material. (Golden Treasures: Japanese Gold Lacquer Boxes is accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue, complete with entries about the works on view and a glossary of lacquer techniques.)

Also on view is a magnificent Writing Box with the Hundred Kings by Mikami Yokodo from the 1920s or 1930s. An internationally recognized master, Yokodo won honors at exhibitions in Chicago, Seattle, and Hanoi. Yokodo decorated the lid of Writing Box with the Hundred Kings with two dramatic shishi lions in gold, silver, red and black raised lacquer set amidst a background of stylized peonies in gold and silver.

Among the more recent works in the exhibition is a natsume tea caddy with a spring and autumn motif from the 1930s. The three-inch caddy is decorated with cherry blossoms and maple leaves. The background decoration is of gold and silver foil sprinkled on a black lacquer ground.

Erik Thomsen will also participate in the widely anticipated annual show, JADA 2011: An Exhibition by the Japanese Art Dealers Association, from March 19-23, 2001 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 E. 79th St., New York City.


Writing Box with the Hundred Kings by Mikami Yōkōdō, 1920s – 30s. 11.5 x 27.5 x 21.2 cm.