From the Meiji Period to the present day, Dreweatts' Mark Newstead takes a look at some of the Japanese works of art highlights from Part 2 of our two-day auction of Asian Ceramics and Works of Art (17 & 18 May 2023).
Japanese artist Toko Shinoda, best known for her abstract sumi ink painting and prints, was an important part of the Japanese ‘Sosaku Hanga’, or ‘creative print’, movement in Japan established in 1918 with the formation of the Japanese Creative Print Society. The movement followed western ideals in believing the artist should be actively involved in the entire print making process, from the design to the finished product.
Featured here, Lot 608, Shinoda’s work displays her signature style with her use of bold black brushstrokes. The mid-century Abstract Expressionism lithograph also includes a striking splash of gold, contrasting against the black ink.
Toko Shinoda remained active in the art world until her death in 2021, at the age of 107, with her works still consistently exhibited in museums across the world, more recently in 2021 at the British Museum in the ‘Contemporary Women Artists of Japan: Six Stories’ exhibition and in 2022 at the Musée Tomo, Tokyo, in their exhibition titled ‘Toko Shinoda: Bridge Over Fleeting Dreams’.
The use of Fukusa has been a long-standing Japanese tradition. Often made of silk, these embroidered fabrics were used for gift wrapping or purifying equipment during a Japanese tea ceremony. The practice of gift wrapping with fabric became widespread during the Edo period, 1603-1867, the richness of the fabric and its embellishment an indication of the givers wealth.
The choice of Fukusa given was an important aspect, ensuring that the style was appropriate for the occasion. Featured in Lot 617, are embroidered figures ‘Jo and Uba’, a design typically given at weddings as the characters ‘Jo and Uba’ are from the Noh play ‘Takasago’ and symbolise marital fidelity, often portrayed as a couple living in perfect harmony until they grow old together. From the Meiji period, 1868-1912, the design features gold embroidery set on a blue ground.
During the Meiji period, 1868-1912, Japan opened to the West. Prior to this Japan had been a relatively closed Feudal society. The Meiji era saw a rapid expansion of decorative bronze making in stark contrast to the relatively limited production of mainly swords and armour commissioned by samurai patrons/warrior families in the Edo period.
Lot 587, is a well-executed bronze by master maker, Suzuki Masayoshi, modelled as a globular mass of swirling clouds from which writhing dragons appear. The piece is raised on three dragon legs and surmounted by a cover bearing a further coiled dragon, cast to the base with a rectangular seal Masayoshi chu.
Wednesday 17 & Thursday 18 May | 10.30am BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Viewing in London (highlights only):
Viewing in Newbury (full sale):
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