Exhibitions/ Art Object

Portable Writing Cabinet with Tokugawa Family Crests, Chrysanthemums, and Foliage Scrolls

Kōami School
Edo period (1615–1868)
late 17th century
Lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, and applied gold foil on nashiji ground
H. 9 in. (22.9 cm); W. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); D. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881
Accession Number:
Not on view
This portable writing box has three drawers; the two upper ones are for paper and documents, while the one at the bottom holds the inkstone, water dropper, and brushes. The cabinet is elaborately decorated with the highest quality maki-e (“sprinkled pictures”). It was produced for the Tokugawa family in one of their official maki-e workshops, probably that of the Kōami family. The chrysanthemum flowers are depicted almost individually, each executed in a different hue or maki-e (flat or relief pattern) technique emphasizing the layered petal structure. Some of the flowers are shown frontally, others from the side or the back. Chrysanthemums, which represent both longevity and autumn, are often featured in classical Japanese poetry.
Stephen Whitney Phoenix , New York (until d. 1881)
Related Objects

Incense Box with Kyōgen Theater Scene at Mibu Temple in Kyoto

Date: 18th century Medium: Lacquered wood with gold, silver, and red togidashimaki-e on black ground Accession: 29.100.723 On view in:Not on view

Shelf for Cosmetic Boxes (Kurodana) with Wild Grapevine and Family Crest

Date: first half of the 17th century Medium: Lacquered wood with gold, silver hiramaki-e Accession: 2015.300.293 On view in:Not on view

Cabinet of Drawers with Birds and Flowers

Date: late 16th century Medium: Lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e; mother-of-pearl inlay Accession: 1989.17a–l On view in:Gallery 226

Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō)

Date: 14th century Medium: Wood with lacquer, color, gold, and inlaid crystal eyes Accession: 2015.300.254a–f On view in:Gallery 224