Pair of Vases thumbnail 1
Pair of Vases thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery

Pair of Vases

ca. 1880-90 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Although these three vases do not constitute a set as such, the designs on one side are so similar in terms of colour scheme and layout that they have been grouped together here. The bodies are of copper and each has an applied gold rim, inner neck-ring and base plate. The central panels in the first illustration are decorated with butterflies and summer and early autumn flowers in silver and gold yusen enamels on a mottled brown ground. The flowers on the larger, central vase include pink hollyhock and what would appear to be form of Sorbus (Mountain Ash) with red berries. The flowers on the smaller vases have not been positively identified but may include a type of aster. The larger vase has formal shippo motifs surrounding the central panel. The panels of each of the vases are surrounded by stylised flowers in yusen enamels on a coloured enamel ground with areas of chakinseki. Designs very similar to the central panels can be found on pages 148 to 150 of the Kyo Shippo Monyo-shu. All three vases have Namikawa's mirror-black ground. The lids (which have solid gold knobs in the form of lotus buds), shoulders, and lower sections of each of the vases have finely applied yusen coloured enamels depicting stylised flowers and geometric formal panels. Parts of the ground of the upper areas of the vases are executed in chakinseki.

The central panels shown in the second illustration are quite different. While the two smaller vases continue the theme of late summer or early autumn (with flowers such as chrysanthemum and gentian) on a sombre speckled brown ground, the panel of the larger vase is quite different. Here we see the mythical Ho-o (phoenix) on a dark cream, slightly speckled ground. The Ho-o is superbly fashioned in silver and gold yusen polychrome enamels with chakinseki details, and is surrounded by Hosoge flowers and karakusa scrolls. The bird seems almost to float within the panel and is far less formal in execution than other examples of Ho-o produced by Namikawa, for example the designs on pages 123-124 of the Kyo Shippo Monyo-shu.

The engraved, rather formal signatures on the smaller vases read Namikawa Zo (made by Namikawa); the more freely engraved signature on the larger vase reads Kyoto Namikawa Zo (made by Namikawa of Kyoto). The signatures are engraved directly into the base plates on all three vases. See Fairley, Japanese Works of Art, no.42 for a vase by Yasuyuki of different shape but with a central panel of almost identical design to the larger vase. See Meiji no Takara nos. 5 & 6 for two vases decorated with similar designs and colour schemes (no.6 also illustrated in Barry Davies, no.21), Splendors of Imperial Japan no.23 for a pair of jars with a similar design of Ho-o birds.

This description refers to both FE.60-2011 and FE.61-2011

Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 4 parts.

  • Vase
  • Lid
  • Vase
  • Lid
Materials and techniques
Cloisonné enamel with silver and gold <i>yusen</i> (with wires) enamels.
Brief description
Pair of cloisonné enamel vases decorated with butterflies and flowers, mark of Namikawa Yasuyuki, Kyoto, Japan, c.1880-90.
Physical description
Pair of vases decorated with butterflies and summer and early autumn flowers. Each with the mark of Namikawa Yasuyuki. The bodies are in copper with an applied gold rim.
Dimensions
  • Height: 11cm
  • Width: 6cm
Content description
flowers, butterflies
Marks and inscriptions
(Each with the mark of Namikawa Yasuyuki)
Gallery label
Group of lidded vases with butterflies, flowers and phoenix 1880–90 Namikawa Yasuyuki was one of Japan’s greatest cloisonné enamel artists. He worked for the Kyoto Cloisonné Company before setting up his own workshop. His work is distinguished by the use of extremely intricate wirework and painstaking attention to detail. He won numerous prizes at international exhibitions. His former workshop in Kyoto is now maintained as a museum. Signed ‘Made by Namikawa’ for Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845–1927) Kyoto Copper with cloisonné enamels, gold and silver wires; gold fittings Edwin Davies Gift Museum nos. FE.60, 61-2011 (04/11/2015)
Credit line
Given by Edwin Davies
Summary
Although these three vases do not constitute a set as such, the designs on one side are so similar in terms of colour scheme and layout that they have been grouped together here. The bodies are of copper and each has an applied gold rim, inner neck-ring and base plate. The central panels in the first illustration are decorated with butterflies and summer and early autumn flowers in silver and gold yusen enamels on a mottled brown ground. The flowers on the larger, central vase include pink hollyhock and what would appear to be form of Sorbus (Mountain Ash) with red berries. The flowers on the smaller vases have not been positively identified but may include a type of aster. The larger vase has formal shippo motifs surrounding the central panel. The panels of each of the vases are surrounded by stylised flowers in yusen enamels on a coloured enamel ground with areas of chakinseki. Designs very similar to the central panels can be found on pages 148 to 150 of the Kyo Shippo Monyo-shu. All three vases have Namikawa's mirror-black ground. The lids (which have solid gold knobs in the form of lotus buds), shoulders, and lower sections of each of the vases have finely applied yusen coloured enamels depicting stylised flowers and geometric formal panels. Parts of the ground of the upper areas of the vases are executed in chakinseki.

The central panels shown in the second illustration are quite different. While the two smaller vases continue the theme of late summer or early autumn (with flowers such as chrysanthemum and gentian) on a sombre speckled brown ground, the panel of the larger vase is quite different. Here we see the mythical Ho-o (phoenix) on a dark cream, slightly speckled ground. The Ho-o is superbly fashioned in silver and gold yusen polychrome enamels with chakinseki details, and is surrounded by Hosoge flowers and karakusa scrolls. The bird seems almost to float within the panel and is far less formal in execution than other examples of Ho-o produced by Namikawa, for example the designs on pages 123-124 of the Kyo Shippo Monyo-shu.

The engraved, rather formal signatures on the smaller vases read Namikawa Zo (made by Namikawa); the more freely engraved signature on the larger vase reads Kyoto Namikawa Zo (made by Namikawa of Kyoto). The signatures are engraved directly into the base plates on all three vases. See Fairley, Japanese Works of Art, no.42 for a vase by Yasuyuki of different shape but with a central panel of almost identical design to the larger vase. See Meiji no Takara nos. 5 & 6 for two vases decorated with similar designs and colour schemes (no.6 also illustrated in Barry Davies, no.21), Splendors of Imperial Japan no.23 for a pair of jars with a similar design of Ho-o birds.

This description refers to both FE.60-2011 and FE.61-2011
Bibliographic references
  • Japanese Cloisonne Irvine, Gregory. Japanese Cloisonné. (London:V&A Publications, 2006), p. 108.
  • Japanese Cloisonne Enamels. Irvine, Gregory. Japanese Cloisonné Enamels. (London: V&A Publishing, 2011). pl. 33.
Other number
ED 295 - Edwin Davies collection number
Collection
Accession number
FE.61:1 to 4-2011

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Record createdFebruary 16, 2011
Record URL
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