Writing Box with Chinese Poet Su Dongpo and Attendant, Black lacquer with gold, silver, and red togidashimaki-e, Japan

江戸時代 蘇東坡蒔絵硯箱
Writing Box with Chinese Poet Su Dongpo and Attendant

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
second half of the 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Black lacquer with gold, silver, and red togidashimaki-e
Dimensions:
H. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm); W. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); D. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881
Accession Number:
81.1.170
Not on view
This writing box depicts one of the most famous poets and statesmen in Chinese history, Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi, 1037–1101). He is often represented riding on the back of a donkey, a poor man’s conveyance and a symbol of the eremitic life of a scholar-poet. His young attendant is holding a gourd presumably filled with wine, which also helps identify the figure as Su Dongpo, who was also famed for his consumption of this beverage. The lush and detailed surface of this box was created by burnishing sprinkled gold and silver powders to achieve a smooth surface, a technique known as togidashimaki-e.
Stephen Whitney Phoenix , New York (until d. 1881; bequethed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection," February 1, 2014–September 7, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sumptuous: East Asian Lacquer, 14th–20th Century," October 25, 2014–August 9, 2015.