A small cloisonne enamel vase and cover by the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845-1927), Meiji period (late 19th century), 4 3/4in (12cm) high. Est. USD15,000-20,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- The March 19 auction of Fine Japanese Works of Art at Bonhams will feature an assortment of notable Meiji period highlights, emphasizing the high quality materials and excellent craftsmanship collectors seek. During the Meiji period – the late 19th century - the rise of cultural exchange between East and West resulted in a distinctive style of decorative arts that today appeals to a broad range of collectors. An impressive selection of cloisonné enamels, as well as gorgeous lacquer works, striking bronzes and ever popular woodblock prints will be on offer. 

Many of the cloisonné enamels featured in the auction were produced by the top studios of the 19th century. For example, a baluster vase by the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845-1927) is certain to impress collectors with its elongated neck and dark blue ground accented with chrysanthemums and butterflies (est. $12,000-18,000). Also from the Namikawa workshop is a small meiping vase with a celadon drip design, highlighted with chrysanthemums (est. $15,000-20,000). 

Exquisite Japanese lacquer will also be on offer in the March 19 auction. The Japanese have been working in lacquer since its arrival from China. They adapted it to their aesthetic needs almost immediately, leading to an assortment of arresting objects decorated with a variety of metallic powders and inlaid embellishments. A Meiji period lacquer writing box with beautiful inlays in the style of Hashichi (1817-1882) is an especially notable highlight, decorated with exquisitely inlaid sea creatures in a variety of materials (est. $12,000-18,000). 

Other highlights include a massive, late 19th century bronze incense burner with shishi (lion dogs) by Suzuki Masayoshi, which is already attracting attention at Bonhams 580 Madison galleries (est. $35,000-45,000). The elaborate piece is notable for its high quality casting and carving, and the tasteful use of mixed metal accents. This piece was conceived to capture the imagination of the newly emerging Western market. 

Building on Bonhams excellent results with woodblock prints in the September 2012 Fine Japanese & Korean Works of Art sale, the March 19 auction will also feature striking classical woodcuts from Japanese masters including Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). A print from his series Hyaku monogatari (Ghost tales), entitled Kohada Koheiji – or, The Ghost of Kohada Koheiji - features an unforgettably eerie skeletal figure peering over mosquito netting (est. $3,000-3,500). 

Bonhams will also offer an exciting selection of modern Japanese prints from a private Washington DC collection. Ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s, the collection features modern masters such as Hashiguchi Goyo, Kawase Hasui, Hiroshi Yoshida and Sekino Jun’ichiro. The sale will also feature ever popular items such as netsuke, inro, decorative screens and Samurai arts. 

The Fine Japanese Works of Art auction will take place March 19 at Bonhams in New York. The sale will preview at Bonhams from March 15-18.


A cloisonne enamel vase by the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845-1927), Meiji period (late 19th century), tablet mounted on base. Est. USD12,000-18,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.