Eagle with Outstreched Wings
Suzuki Chōkichi (Japanese, 1848–1919)
late 19th century
Iron, pigment, shakudo, shibuichi, wood
H. (without base), 17 in. (43.2 cm); W. of wingspan, 55 in. (139.7 cm)
Gift of James R. Steers, 1911
Not on view
This life size eagle is dynamically posed on a stump of an old tree, with its head cocked to the side, its feet spread, and its wings outstretched as if ready to pounce. At the end of the nineteenth century, as westernization was radically transforming traditional Japanese society, culture, and government, the eagle was emblematic of Japan asserting itself on the international stage.
The head and talons, modeled in low relief, are cast iron. A tour de force of late nineteenth-century metalwork, the thin feathers that cover the body, wings, tail, and legs were individually forged, incised, and riveted to metal sheets that form an inner core. Though unsigned, it is the work of Suzuki Chōkichi and was intended for display at 1893 international exposition in Chicago.