Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Tiered Box (Jūbako) with Design of Boats and Plovers

Artist:
Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891)
Period:
Meiji period (1868–1912)
Date:
second half of the 19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Gold maki-e on black and brown lacquer, with mother-of-pearl inlay and pewter
Dimensions:
L. 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm); W. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm); H. 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 2015
Accession Number:
2015.500.2.53a–g
Not on view
In the nineteenth century Shibata Zeshin, who exhibited at several world's fairs, was one of the few Japanese artists known in the West. He is noted both for his use of lacquer as a painting medium and for his innovative melding of techniques and unusual materials in lacquers. The boats here are made of pewter that was roughly finished with lacquer, while the traditional "sprinkled gold" (maki-e) technique defines the sheaves of rice. The combed pattern on the waves illustrates Zeshin's revival of the "blue wave" (seigaiha-nuri) technique, in which lacquer thickened with egg white or clay is placed on a surface and then combed into a pattern with a bamboo brush. Small pieces of pearl shell form the plovers flying over the scene, which has autumnal overtones.
Signature: Zeshin
Florence and Herbert Irving , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
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