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Vase

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1883 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kasson (designer)
    Suzuki, Chokichi, born 1848 - died 1919 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast and patinated bronze, with applied gold and with shakudo, shibuichi and other patinated copper decoration

  • Museum number:

    30-1886

  • Gallery location:

    Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery, case 4

This superbly executed bronze vase is the product of many traditions of Japanese art, not only of metalworking. The decorative inlay techniques derive from those employed by the makers of sword fittings, the naturalistic depiction of nature from the Shijo school of painting (which developed in the later 18th century) and the overall composition from the Rimpa school founded in the early 17th century. The skills required to decorate metal objects of this type became available as a result of the downfall of the ruling military government of Japan in 1868, and the eventual banning in 1876 of the wearing of swords in public. The traditional market for decorative metalwork on weapons and armour effectively disappeared and craftsmen had to quickly find new outlets for their talents.

The advent of the great world expositions in the 19th century (in which the Japanese government was actively involved) gave Japanese craftsmen an opportunity to excel in the production of sumptuous decorative objects, such as this vase. This particular example was bought directly from the Universal Exhibition at Amsterdam in 1883 from the Kiryu Kosho Kaisha (The First Japanese Manufacturing and Trading Company) which had been set up following Japan's great success at the 1873 Vienna World Exhibition in order to promote traditional Japanese craft industries. The vase was produced by the notable bronze-caster Suzuki Chokichi (1848-1919).

Physical description

Decorated with chrysanthemums, bamboo and vine with a thrush and butterfly. Lappet borders with butterfly design. Signed on the base 'made by the Kiryu Kosho Kaisha' under a double mountain mark.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

1883 (made)

Artist/maker

Kasson (designer)
Suzuki, Chokichi, born 1848 - died 1919 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cast and patinated bronze, with applied gold and with shakudo, shibuichi and other patinated copper decoration

Dimensions

Height: 27.2 cm, Diameter: 29.5 cm, Weight: 8.66 kg

Object history note

Commissioned by Kiryu Kosho Kaisha.

Descriptive line

Vase of cast and patinated bronze, decorated with chrysanthemums, bamboo and vine with a thrush and butterfly, signed 'made by the Kiryu Kosho Kaisha', Japan, about 1880.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Labels and date

Vase
About 1880

This remarkable vase was made using metalworking techniques previously employed to make sword fittings. It was bought by the V&A at the 1883 Amsterdam International Exhibition from a company established by the Japanese government to promote the manufacture of high-end crafts. In the late 19th century, international exhibitions of this kind gave Japanese craftsmen the opportunity to show off their skills on the world stage.

Designed by Kasson and cast by Suzuki Chōkichi (1848–1919); marked ‘Made by the Kiryū Kōshō Kaisha’
Tokyo
Bronze with gold, silver and patinated copper alloys including shakudō and shibuichi
Museum no. 30-1886
[04/11/2015]

Subjects depicted

Bird; Chrysanthemum; Butterfly; Insect; Thrush

Collection

East Asia Collection

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