Kabuki_2

Bonhams presents part two of the Edward Wrangham Collection, after £2 million sale in November. Photo: Bonhams

LONDON.- Following the success of Part 1 of the Edward Wrangham Collection in November 2010, which realised over £2 million and included a world record price for an inro** sold at auction, Bonhams is delighted to announce the second sale of the collection that will take place at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 10th May.

Considered one of Europe’s most important and comprehensive private collections of Japanese Gentleman’s accessories, it was formed by the late environmentalist, mountaineer, scholar and collector Edward Wrangham OBE.

Wrangham’s first piece was given to him in 1936 when he was eight years old and was considered the last of the great British collectors. Wrangham continued to add to his collection until his death in 2009, sourcing works of art from all over the world. His collection, which was also published and written about by Wrangham himself, comprises over 1000 pieces of inro, netsuke and Japanese sword fittings assembled over many decades.

An extremely rare early 20th century, roiro lacquer four-case inro byShirayama Shosai (1853-1923) is one of the top lots in the sale and is estimated to sell for £20,000 – 30,000. Finely lacquered in gold, the inro depicts a full-length portrait of the Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX, a contemporary of the artist.

Ichikawa Danjuro was one of the most famous and successful Kabuki actors during the late 19th century Meiji Period in Japan, and is widely credited with ensuring that the traditional art form remained vibrant as Japan struggled with Westernisation. Represented in a Shibaraku role, one of the most popular pieces in the Kabuki repertoire, he is showing off a fan, with the large square sleeves of the extravagant costume continuing on the reverse. Works by Shirayama Shosai, one the most important lacquer artists of the time,are very rare and highly sought after.
An extremely rare early 20th century, roiro lacquer four-case inro byShirayama Shosai (1853-1923) is one of the top lots in the sale and is estimated to sell for £20,000 – 30,000. Finely lacquered in gold, the inro depicts a full-length portrait of the Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX, a contemporary of the artist.

Ichikawa Danjuro was one of the most famous and successful Kabuki actors during the late 19th century Meiji Period in Japan, and is widely credited with ensuring that the traditional art form remained vibrant as Japan struggled with Westernisation. Represented in a Shibaraku role, one of the most popular pieces in the Kabuki repertoire, he is showing off a fan, with the large square sleeves of the extravagant costume continuing on the reverse. Works by Shirayama Shosai, one the most important lacquer artists of the time,are very rare and highly sought after.

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An extremely rare roiro lacquer four-case inro. By Shirayama Shosai (1853-1923), early 20th century. Photo: Bonhams

Finely lacquered in gold, rogin and iroe togidashi with details of e-nashiji and kirikane, depicting a full-length portrait of the Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX in a Shibaraku role, brandishing a fan, the fantastically large square sleeves of the extravagant costume continuing on the reserve, the interior of rich nashiji; signed with seal Shosai. 7.3cm (2 7/8in). Estimate: £20,000 - 30,000, JPY 2,700,000 - 4,100,000, $ 33,000 - 49,000

市川団十郎「暫」図蒔絵印籠 銘「松哉(方印)」 20世紀前期

Provenance: Dave Swedlow collection, sold at Sotheby's London 1972.
Purchased from Eskenazi Ltd., London, 1988.
Wrangham Collection no.1905.

Published: E.A. Wrangham, The Index of Inro Artists, p.255, Shosai, the first row, second from right.

See Jan Dees, Japanese Lacquer Artist, Shirayama Shosai (1853-1923), Arts of Asia magazine, March-April 2002, pp.92-104. In this article, the author lists only ten known inro by the artist. Appointed a Teishitsu gigein (Imperial Court Artist) in 1906, he is one of the most important lacquer artists of the Taisho period. Shosai's works of art are as highly valued as the work of the celebrated Shibata Zeshin but they are much rarer.

The Shibaraku scene is the ultimate confrontation between good and evil in Kabuki, and the most perfect display of the bombastic, stylised aragoto (rough stuff) acting style associated with the Ichikawa Danjuro line of actors. First performed by Danjuro I in 1697, it became obligatory from the early 18th century to include the scene in the opening-of-the-season (kaomise) productions held at every theatre in the 11th month of the year.

The actor portrayed here is probably Danjuro IX who would be contemporary with the lacquer artist Shirayama Shosai. He is wearing the characteristic Shibaraku costume: red-streaked sujiguma makeup, radiating 'cartwheel' wig, black lacquer court headdress (eboshi), pleated white paper 'strength' hair ornaments and a voluminous, distinctive persimmon red ceremonial jacket (suo) over armour.
Provenance: Dave Swedlow collection, sold at Sotheby's London 1972.
Purchased from Eskenazi Ltd., London, 1988.
Wrangham Collection no.1905.

Published: E.A. Wrangham, The Index of Inro Artists, p.255, Shosai, the first row, second from right.

See Jan Dees, Japanese Lacquer Artist, Shirayama Shosai (1853-1923), Arts of Asia magazine, March-April 2002, pp.92-104. In this article, the author lists only ten known inro by the artist. Appointed a Teishitsu gigein (Imperial Court Artist) in 1906, he is one of the most important lacquer artists of the Taisho period. Shosai's works of art are as highly valued as the work of the celebrated Shibata Zeshin but they are much rarer.

The Shibaraku scene is the ultimate confrontation between good and evil in Kabuki, and the most perfect display of the bombastic, stylised aragoto (rough stuff) acting style associated with the Ichikawa Danjuro line of actors. First performed by Danjuro I in 1697, it became obligatory from the early 18th century to include the scene in the opening-of-the-season (kaomise) productions held at every theatre in the 11th month of the year.

The actor portrayed here is probably Danjuro IX who would be contemporary with the lacquer artist Shirayama Shosai. He is wearing the characteristic Shibaraku costume: red-streaked sujiguma makeup, radiating 'cartwheel' wig, black lacquer court headdress (eboshi), pleated white paper 'strength' hair ornaments and a voluminous, distinctive persimmon red ceremonial jacket (suo) over armour.

Further highlights include a stunningroiro lacquer five-case inro by the renowned lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), also of the Meiji Period. Decorated in gold, silver and black, with a finch perched on a finely detailed cherry branch, with a mosquito; the exquisite inro is estimated to sell for £20,000-25,000. A lacquer four-case inro by Shibata Zeshin is also estimated to sell for £20,000 – 25,000.

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A roiro lacquer five-case inro. By Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), Meiji Period.

Decorated in gold, silver, black hiramakie and takamakie, with a finch perched on a cherry branch, with details in ishime, keuchi, harigaki and kakiwari, the flowering plant design continuing on the reverse with a mosquito executed in delicate katakiri hovering beneath, the interior of rich nashiji, signed with scratched signature Zeshin. 9.2cm (3 5/8in). Estimate: £20,000 - 25,000, JPY 2,700,000 - 3,400,000, $ 33,000 - 41,000

花鳥図蒔絵印籠 銘「是真」 明治時代

Provenance: F.A. Richards collection, purchased at Sotheby's London, 1964.
Wrangham collection, no.338.

Published: E.A. Wrangham, The Index of Inro Artists, 1995, p.346, Zeshin, left column, top centre.

Nominated as one of the first Teishitsu Gigeiin (Imperial Court Artist) in Meiji 23 (1890), Shibata Zeshin excelled in a number of art forms, including painting, lacquer-making, print design, and calligraphy. He had an outstanding studio with talented students specializing in lacquer, paintings and prints.

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A lacquer four-case inro.  By Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), Meiji Period.

The dark greenish-grey, matt seido-nuri ground decorated in orange and black takamakie with a haori hanging on a bamboo pole suspended from the branches of a plum tree, the design continuing on the reverse with two butterflies rendered in delicate kebori flitting beneath the plum branches, the interior of rich nashiji; the base signed with scratched characters Zeshin. 7.1cm (2¾in). Estimate: £20,000 - 25,000, JPY 2,700,000 - 3,400,000, $ 33,000 - 41,000

羽織に梅の木図蒔絵印籠 銘「是真」 明治時代

Provenance: John Harding collection, purchased at Christies London, 1968.
Wrangham collection, no.875.

Exhibited: Meiji, Japanese Art in Transition, The Haags Gemeentmuseum, The Hague, Holland, 1987, p.115, no.188.

Compare with an almost identical inro by the artist, illustrated by Pierre-F. Schneeberger, The Baur Collection Geneva, Japanese Lacquer (selected pieces), p.160, no.F 145.

In addition to the exquisite collection of inro, netsuke and sword fittings, the Edward Wrangam Collection also includes works of art. A woven writing box, in gold and silver lacquer,by Mochizuki Hanzan in the 18th century, depicts the fable of Rosei. The figure of Rosei is reclining on a bench, beside the terrace of a pavilion framed by rocks and trees, holding a fan over his face as he dreams. The box is estimated to sell for£15,000-20,000.

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A woven rattan suzuribako (writing box and cover). By Mochizuki Hanzan, 18th century

Of rectangular form, the cover with a brass-rimmed roiro lacquered shaped panel inlaid with Rosei reclining on a bench, holding a fan over his face as he dreams, beside the terrace of a pavilion framed by rocks and trees, in gold and silver takamakie and tsuishu, with inlays of soapstone, glazed ceramic and tortoiseshell, the interior of tsugaru-nuri, fitted with a suzuri and oval brass mizuire, signed Hanzan sei with seal Hanzan, with nunobukuro (textile storage bag). 24.7cm x 20.3cm x 4.2cm (9¾in x 8in x 1 5/8in). (2). Estimate: £15,000 - 20,000, JPY 2,100,000 - 2,700,000, $ 24,000 - 33,000

藤網代盧生の夢図蒔絵硯箱 銘「半山 半山(方印)」 18世紀

Provenance: Sir Trevor Lawrence collection, sold at Christie's London, 1916.
Purchased from Yamanaka & Co., Los Angeles, 1980.
Wrangham collection, no.1476.

Published: H.L. Joly, The Trevor Lawrence Collection of Japanese Lacquer, pl.K.

Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., Eccentrics in Netsuke, London 1982, no.36.

**An inro (literally meaning sealed case) is a traditional Japanese case consisting of a stack of small, nested boxes that were used to carry small objects such as seals, tobacco and medicines; the netsuke is a small carving in wood or ivory that keeps the inro securely closed. Japanese men wore traditional Kimono and the inro were worn suspended from the sash for all to see. After humble beginnings as functional items, between the 17th-19th centuries inro and netsuke were developed by some of Japan’s finest craftsmen into miniature works of art.