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  • Place of origin:

    Kyoto (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1875 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kanzan workshop (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, decorated in overglaze enamels and gilt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 3

Object Type
This vase is a good example of late19th-century Japanese export porcelain. It was made in Kyoto, Japan's former imperial capital, which had grown into an important centre of ceramic manufacture during the 17th century. It is one of a pair of vases decorated with an astonishing degree of skill, with naturalistic bird and flower studies framed within a stylized border. The subject matter and treatment of the painted panels is similar to that found in Japanese illustrated books of the kind that were arousing much interest in the West at the time.

The opening up of Japan in the mid-1850s after more than two centuries of seclusion from the rest of the world triggered a huge expansion in the manufacture of export goods in ceramics and other media. These were avidly sought out by western collectors, artists and designers, and played a central role in the development of 'Japonisme' and then art nouveau.

Historical Associations
This vase was one of over 200 Japanese ceramics bought by the V&A after they had been shown at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in the United States in 1876. Some were old, but the majority, like this piece, were new or nearly new. The collection was assembled by the Japanese with funds sent from Britain.

Place of Origin

Kyoto (made)


ca. 1875 (made)


Kanzan workshop (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, decorated in overglaze enamels and gilt

Marks and inscriptions

Mark 'Kanzan sei' in overglaze red on the base


Height: 37 cm, Width: 18 cm, Diameter: 13.5 cm base

Object history note

Made at the Kanzan workshop in Kyoto, Japan

Descriptive line

Two-handled vase, one of a pair, porcelain painted in overglaze enamels and gilt; Japan, Kyoto, Kanzan workshop, Meiji period, ca. 1875

Labels and date

British Galleries:
In 1876 this museum acquired a large collection of Japanese ceramics from the International Exhibition in Philadelphia, U.S.A. Many of the ceramics were modern, highly decorated pieces made for the European market. The collection also contained some older objects made for use in the Japanese tea ceremony. Such objects had never been seen in Britain before. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Birds


Ceramics; Vases; Porcelain


East Asia Collection

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