Paperweight with lizard and lotus leaf

Decorated by Kataro Shirayamadani American, born Japan
Manufacturer Rookwood Pottery Company American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

It was at the Rookwood Pottery that the drive toward more organic, plant-based forms found fruition in American art pottery. Whether it was a result of the general zeitgeist of 1900 or more specific influences from Europe, some Rookwood artists gradually freed their designs from the constraints of wheel-based forms and painted decoration. A small paperweight designed by Kataro Shirayamadani, depicting a lizard momentarily alighting on a leaf, is a charming example of the sort of sculptural object that Rookwood began producing after the turn of the century.

The intimacy of the small lizard clambering about the leaf is similar to designs observed in Japanese netsuke, where the humblest members of the animal kingdom became the subject of endlessly charming variations. Rookwood was not the only pottery to mimic the playful, sculptural compositions of these small toggles. The Royal Copenhagen pottery in Demark produced a popular line of realistic animal sculptures in the early twentieth century. The popularity of these Japanese-inspired objects with European and American consumers reflected their longstanding fascination with Japanese art.

Paperweight with lizard and lotus leaf, Decorated by Kataro Shirayamadani (American (born Japan), Tokyo 1865–1948 Cleveland, Ohio), Earthenware, American

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.