Tiered Box (Jūbako) with Design of Boats and Plovers
Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891)
Meiji period (1868–1912)
second half of the 19th century
Gold maki-e on black and brown lacquer, with mother-of-pearl inlay and pewter
L. 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm); W. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm); H. 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm)
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 2015
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.
Charles A. Greenfield , New York (until d. 1989) ; [ Eskenazi Ltd. , London, until 1990; sold to Irving] ; Florence and Herbert Irving , New York (1990–2015; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "East Asian Lacquer from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection," November 22, 1991–February 23, 1992.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer," December 2, 2006–April 1, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Asian Lacquer: Masterpieces from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection," November 3, 2007–May 11, 2008.
New York. Japan Society Gallery. "The Genius of Japanese Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin," March 21, 2008–June 15, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Mandalas: Emanations and Avatars," June 18, 2009–November 30, 2009.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Beautiful Country: Yamato-e in Japanese Art," November 20, 2010–June 5, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Summer and Autumn in Japanese Art," June 24, 2011–October 23, 2011.