A Mino hon-zukuri wakizashi by Hida (no) Kami Ujifusa, circa 1600. Quite dark steel. Shallow Torii-sori, chu-kissaki, iori-mune. Nagasa 19 5/8 inches (49.85 cm), wide haba, medium kasane. Tight, small itame hada. Wide nie-deki o-gunome midare hamon with togari and koshigaiba. No doubt more activity and hada will be brought out with polish. Fukura-tsuku kissaki. Midare-komi boshi ending in togari rich in nie before thin, fukai kaeri. Iriyama-gata nakago with good patina and crisp feel with (like the blade) some scattered surface rust, o-sujikai yasurime and confidently, deeply cut mei. One mekugi-ana. Only the blade and habaki convey (as we found it.) Has surface rust, habaki locked in place, and some nicks to the edge. Wide haba, characteristic of the Hida Ujifusa line, and wide yakiba ensure this will take a good, restorative polish. I have received a quote to polish and, believing it to be our best candidate for polish, we may later have this done if still possessing it.
Hawley's lists three smiths who worked in Mino province (UJI 19, UJI 21, UJI 22) who signed Hida No Kami Ujifusa (and two Hida Ujifusa listings for Owari province which probably represent the same smiths moving between the two neighboring provinces, UJI 26 and UJI 36). The master of this storied, well connected line was the grandson of third generation Kanefusa and became known as one of the "three Owari masters" (Owari-sansaku.) In his youth, the master Hida Fujiwara Ujifusa was in 1577 appointed page to Oda Nobunaga's third son, Nobutaka (Owari province was also home to the Oda clan), about the time of the subjugation of Kii province. Ujifusa became Ronin in 1582 when Nobutaka committed seppuku. In 1588 Ujifusa entered into apprenticeship under his father, Wakasa no Kami Ujifusa (already a renkowned Owari smith of the late Koto working by appointment by Oda Nobunaga) and received the title Hida no Kami from Toyotomi Hidetsugu, nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and regent for Hideyoshi's son Hideyori, in 1592 (the Toyotomis also came from Owari province.) By 1610 Ujifusa was working from Nagoya castle (as the Toyotomi reign was unraveling after Sekigahra and Hideyori had also fortified in Osaka castle.) Five years later the Toyotomi reign ended with the fall of Osaka Castle. There was one more generation of Hida Fujiwara Ujifusa in Mino province after the master (three total when counting Wakasa Ujifusa who, from Hawley's, it would seem also signed "Hida" within the second generation's atelier - now the master swordsmith in the line). This sword, with gonome-midare hamon, wide haba and o-sujikai yasurime is consistent with the work of the master, Hawley's UJI 21.
A Japanese, Meiji era, six part bronze usabata with relief decoration. Used for ikebana flower arrangements. The baluster form main vessel with bird and crab on one side and hawk and snake on the other side - both in forested water fall landscapes - and four smaller birds in landscape panels. Separate floral and foliate handles. Separate top flaring to a broad, disc form with tall rim featuring six birds in landscape panels below incised key bordered rim surrounding incised decoration of carp, salamander and turtle in water among aquatic plants. Separate trifid support with high relief and sculptural peonies decoration. Separate base with chidori (sparrows) over active sea. Good condition with minor conservation comprised of improvisation to one missing pin supporting one of the handles (an easy fix for a metalwork restorer) and a similar improvisation using a loosely fitted bamboo pin to support one of the peony blooms on the trifid support (also an easy fix for a metalwork specialist.) Very minor losses to peony petals. Signed Yamashiro ju min Shikishi Takayoshi Kore Tsukuru. Overall height 23 1/4 inches (59.05 cm). Rim diameter 11 3/8 inches (28.89 cm). Weight and to some extent size will be a factor when shipping this uncommon find.
An extraordinarily expressive, esoteric, Edo period lacquered wood sculpture of Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Manjusri). The figure seated in relaxed posture. The lower hand likely held a sutra scroll while the right hand likely held a sword. The sutra signified enlightenment (which attribution was particularly ascribed to this Bodhisattva) and the sword signified wisdom cutting off delusion. The Shishi association represents power and wisdom. The finish contrasts between the burnished gold lacquer of the figure and the painted matte lacquer of the dramatically portrayed beast and rockery. A mandorla was once attached to the back (no dovetailed slot so unclear if a mandorla was originally intended.) All raised on a multipart gold lacquered plinth with decorative borders and base with ornately carved bas relief frieze of clouds centering a deer among roiled waters. Both the figure and beast with inlaid crystal eyes with dramatic affect - particularly the large eyes of the Shishi. Monju Bosatsu's eyes are casts toward his right hand as if to examine the sword which would have been held (an activity any samurai sword connoisseur can relate to.) Expected moderate loss and distress to the lacquer surface, the gold lacquered figure of Monju Bosatsu in particularly decent condition. Overall height, 14 3/4 inches (37.5 cm). Overall width 11 1/4 inches (28.58 cm). Height of figure, Shishi and rockery, 10 1/4 inches (26 cm). Height of the figure and Shishi only (together forming one piece), 8 7/8 inches (22.5 cm).
A fine and early museum quality complete set of five Ko-Imari, Kakiemon style cups or choko. Blue underglaze and green, red, aubergine, yellow and black overglaze enamel decoration of peonies and prunus blossoms in garden landscape with rockery and fence. Traces of rubbed gilt enameled highlights. The choko form saw many uses such as teabowls (also seen in early European ceramics after Japanese examples of the period), large sake cups, and mukozuke. We estimate from the delicate but sure potting, the free hand but care of painted decoration, and color of enamels that these cups are Genroku era - late 17th to early 18th century. Each with blue underglaze spurious six character Chenghua mark in single blue circle inside a narrow ring foot. Very good condition considering age and use with expected light scratching to surfaces from use over the centuries and minor imperfections as would be expected from the period. One with an attractive, old gold lacquer filled stable line from the rim - that bowl also rendering a pleasant resonance when lightly tapped. Diameters are not perfect circles but longest length of each is nearly 4 inches diameter (about 10.15 cm). Height (and foot diameters) similarly varies near 2 1/2 inches (6.35 cm). We acquired this set with an old, labeled tomobako in which we continue to store the cups. The label reads "Ko-Imari choko go kyaku, inokuchi" (the last term, inokuchi, referring to the possible use of this five piece set as sake choko.) The box (missing its top) apparently having started its life with the cups, it is understood that the cups are earlier.
Rare "Buddha Asuka (B)" woodblock print by Kiyoshi Saito, 1955, number 40 of only 50 printed, signed in white ink and sealed in red ink both on the image area. Signed and sealed printed label "self-carved self printed" also included (attached to paper backing removed to inspect condition.)
We were not able to find a recent auction record for this image with data available. Another mid-century work by Saito (in color) titled Asuka (Kudara Kannon) [possibly confused by the artist with one of the Roku Kannon also of the Horyuji] was bestowed in 1959 by the artist to the Collection of The University of Michigan Museum of Art. It is noted that Saito was creating works in a series of early Nara sculptures around the time. A Saito subject similar to the present, muted work (but printed two years later in a run of 100) of another Nara sculpture, Miroku, was offered in Christies sale 8862, lot 306 together with a Winter in Aizu print.
The muted colors of the present work is a reflection of the somber lighting within the temples housing sculptures of this period.
Condition of the present work is good, with some toning and with brown paper tape around the edges (covering up to about a half inch margin.) A penciled note (from the framer?) appears in the margin on the verso. Some ink bleed on the verso from the original printing not at all compromising the image. Not clear if this was the first framing, the print was nonetheless not removed for some time until we removed the backing to inspect condition (image included of verso before removing paper.) Sheet height about 33 inches, sheet width about 21 1/4 inches. Image height about 29 5/8 inches, image width about 16 inches.
A complete Edo period tantric sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai seated on original lotus throne and with original sun mandorla. The figure seated in the lotus position with crystal inlaid eyes and third eye; metal crown, bead jewelry and ornamentation; and hands held in Vajra Mudra. The lotus throne with petaled seat on raised, fenced plinth with decorative panels all on shaped base carved and textured to suggest clouds (inscribed on bottom.) The mandorla with openwork radiant son positioned behind the figure's head and with lotus and cloud decoration toward its base. This is consistent with reference to "the Great Sun Buddha". Expected moderate loss and distress to the lacquer surface, the sculpture and throne are in relatively good condition. The mandorla has old lacquer repair securing and stabilizing a few cracks or breaks (all original.) Overall height, 18 inches (45.72 cm). Height of figure on throne (excluding the mandorla) 15 1/2 inches (39.37 cm). Height of the figure only, 8 1/4 inches (20.95 cm).
Thai sutra box and sutra. The rectangular box with ornate gilt decorated panels (each a different scene), three on each side and one on each end, of deities in combat on black lacquered surface. the interior painted red. The sutra with leather ends and sturdy paper leaves with mostly Sanskrit and hand illustrated in colors variably throughout. All good condition with reasonable wear. Sutra (closed) cover length 26 3/4 inches (67.9 cm). Box length (along the base), 32 1/2 inches (82.55 cm). Box height, 13 5/8 inches (34.6 cm), Box width (along the base), 11 inches (27.94 cm). This item will ship oversized and with significant weight in a wood crate all at buyer's expense (or we can arrange with buyer to pick up after paid.)
A pair of fine and very unusual Art Deco Japanese studio porcelain Iroe Nabeshima style sculptural vases. Of waisted, triangular section, seeming to suggest an origami depiction (if not being too imaginative - though these vases are imaginative if anything) of crossed rhinoceros horns as seen in Chinese art symbolism of the 'Hundred Treasures'. Each vase with three angular parts forming the triangular section with uneven rims, the three distinct parts curved (forming the waist) and tapered through to the three feet. Nabeshima palette enamels and underglaze blue decoration of Chidori-Mon and bamboo lattice and of Botan-Karakusa. The Chidori and bamboo were used in Mon for clans including prominent Uesugi and Date families. Each vase signed on a triangular, flat bottom inside the splayed feet. It appears there may be two artist names repeated on each so perhaps a collaboration. An old import shop label, "BI'DON importers", still adheres inside the rim of one of the pair. Good condition. Height varies slightly - 12 9/16 inches (31.9 cm) for one and 12 1/8 inches (30.8 cm) for the other. Variation in the weight (and contrary to size) of these substantial vases also is telling of the non-commercial origins of these meticulous studio works - the slightly shorter vase weighing more at 1.685 kg and the slightly taller vase 1.445 kg
An early Koryo dynasty celadon Maebyeong vase. 11th to early 12th century. The color is a more drab, vitreous green than the more opaque, bluer examples from the accomplished production of the middle 12th through early 13th centuries. Height, 10 1/2 inches (25.4 cm). Condition is good. Some oxidized kiln adherence to the sides and particularly the rim, inclusions in the glaze from the firing, a couple small unglazed points along the girth and foot, course foot with a couple old small chips on the foot only, partially glaze inside the foot - exposing an earthy light-brown body. Some traces of red enamel decoration (including some spots on the foot) no doubt added well after production but quite some time ago - now almost completely worn away.
Korean painting of a lone fisherman in boat in Zen (Korean - Seon [not to be confused with the artist]) school landscape with inverted rocky cliff with trees and shrubbery clinging to a bluff over water with grasses in the foreground and hilly, forested shores and clouds in the faded distance. Anonymous. 19th century, Joseon dynasty. Good condition with relatively even toning of the paper with light distress and slight rubbing mostly on the periphery. Image area 19 inches high by 15 inches wide. (Shadowbox frame about 33 inches high by 23 3/8 inches wide.)
A good 19th century carved and lacquered wood Noh mask representing the character role of Ko Omote (young woman). The well oxidized wood visible on the inside of the mask exhibiting the knife strokes of the anonymous artist. Generally good condition and the lacquer strong and stable. In the interest of full and detailed disclosure: Some natural age checking of the wood on the figure's left side also conveying to the lacquered surface on the face. Similar age cracks in the lacquer on either side of the figure's nose, where the wood is thicker, not showing any checking to the wood at that point from the inside. Light lacquer loss under the lower lip, near each nostril and the top edge where the hair meets the rim. Some rubbing to the black lacquer where the later silk cords are now strung. The lacquered surface could stand for a light, professional cleaning (though not necessary) of some points such as nose tip, forehead and chin but care should be taken not to disturb patina. Height, 8 3/8 inches (21.28 cm). Width 5 3/8 inches (13.65 cm).
Koryo dynasty celadon bowl. The cavetto with inlaid white slip decoration including ornamental band inside the rim and four strawberry sprays surrounding centered chrysanthemum flowerhead within double ring. The exterior with white and black slip inlaid decoration of two graduated bands of chrysanthemum roundels within double rings. The olive green glaze pooling to blue-green and burned in the kiln to a drab tone on a portion of the exterior. 12th to 13th century. Good condition. Diameter 7 3/8 inches (18.73cm). Height 2 1/2 inches (6.35cm)
A fine 19th century classical rosewood canterbury. The four compartments separated by three rail and stile partitions with handle, enclosed by openwork lyre sides and turned corner posts with finials, all over two drawer case raised on turned feet. Wonderfully appropriate for a period music room. The two drawers likely cost the patron a pretty penny in the period and are not commonly encountered. Secondary woods (exhibiting only hand rendered kerf marks) include red cedar and chamfered poplar for the drawers, and red cedar and knotty pine for the case. Note the darker oxidation (as expected) on the exposed lower drawer bottom. Probably American, inspired by Regency design. Compare with Neal's 2005 Winter Estates Auction lot 261 which lacked case and drawers. Very good condition save some rosewood veneer loss on one side lyre (see third enlargement - a minor consideration easily restored - we will not.) This will ship oversized or by special delivery service at buyer's expense. Length 20 1/2 inches (52cm), Height 18 inches (45.7cm), Depth 14 1/2 inches (36.8cm).
A fine little Hirado figural group depicting two karako playing with a Shishi-mai (lion dance) mask. Sharply modeled with incised details and sparse blue, aubergine and black underglaze decoration. The karako's eyes, the lion mask and the underside unglazed. The biscuit surface of the lion mask intentionally oxidized to an even, light buff tone. Good condition with only a few tiny "flea bite" surface flakes one must look closely for and not detracting (our close images depict them larger than life with commentary in the captions.) Length, 3 1/8 inches (7.94 cm). Height, 2 1/2 inches (6.35 cm)
I visited the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC a little more than a year ago and saw some really creative ceramics with leather incorporated into the composition among related, sculptural works. It did make a spontaneous and lasting impression that led me to recognize and purchase a wonderful and unusual work by the same hand found in an antiques and collectibles market.
Featured here is a monumental mixed media salt glazed pottery charger. My first impression was a landscape with sun (concentric iron colored circles on clay body) on the horizon (leather upon iron colored band) over blue colored area (suggesting water?) Where the horizon meets is reminiscent of Rothko. But the hanger suggests it may have been intended with the concentric rings below, as if a valley. The blue area, in that case, might represent the sky (if indeed it is intended as a landscape.) The horizon would not sit level if the hanger shows intent. One might also remove the hanger and place as a centerpiece. The charger is signed "TURKER GWU CORCORON [sic] 1971".
The artist is Turker Ozdogan, Fellow of Corcoran College of Art and Design. He also received an MFA at George Washington University. As faculty, he established the ceramics program at GWU and continues as the Director. Ozdogan previously received recognition from the Applied Fine Arts School, Istanbul, the Eczacibasi Ceramics Factory also in Turkey, and Furst Adolf Werkstatte Fur Keramik, Buckeburg, Germany. He has achieved recognition, awards or exhibitions with Corcoran Gallery of Art, the International Monetary Fund, the World bank, Meridian House, and the United Nations Plaza, Turkevi Gallery. His work has been featured in the press and in publications and is in many private and public collections including The George Washington University Permanent Collection, and Kale Ceramics Museum, Turkey. Condition is good. Diameter, 22 inches.
Have not found other works available on the market and no archival basis to establish comparative value. The artist is apparently aesthetically rather than commercially motivated. This will be weighty and careful packing so at the buyer's expense.
A Japanese lacquer bowed top box with portrait of a Kabuki actor - presumably named in gold lacquer and the role of Daihachi named in a lustrous iron color. All slightly raised work, the portrait is in gray, black, red, flesh tone, browns and gold. Lines including pattern and folds in the figure's attire and hair in his coiffure and sideburns cleanly defined with raised work. Metal along the facing edges of the top and bottom have no doubt contributed nicely to the preservation of the box. Actor portraits being not uncommon in woodblock prints, we have only found one example in lacquer - an important inro sold by Bonhams in May 2011. The present box is not signed and does not enjoy the colorful provenance of the Bonhams' inro. The condition of this box is fair with small losses on corners and edges (see our illustrations), light surface wear and need of a cleaning. The top has a very slight warp mostly along the length so that the facing metal edges do not rest entirely flush on one side (otherwise would not be noticed and probably not surprising with a little shrinkage over time.) There is no wrinkling, no blisters, no peeling at all to the lacquer (solid work.) This should touch up and clean up nicely in the hands of a qualified lacquer conservationist. It was difficult to capture the raised work in our photographs. Our last enlargements are taken close and under direct halogen light at angles that distort the composition and exaggerate wear but which highlight the raised work. Length, 6 inches (15.24 cm), Width 3 3/8 inches (8.57 cm), Height 1 1/2 inches (3.81 cm). Late Meiji, possibly early Taisho.
Koryo dynasty olive toned celadon bowl with a large, impressed peony decoration inside the bowl and incised fine line around the inside of the foliate rim. The body thinly potted but strong as in the manner of Chinese Yingqing wares of the same period. Perhaps slightly more stout than Yingqing wares, it emits a similar resonance when lightly tapped. 12th Century. For a discussion of this and a comparable incised bowl, see Figure 6, "The Radiance of Jade and the Clarity of Water - Korean Ceramics From The Ataka Collection". While the condition of the present example is very good, the color of the glaze could be a little cleaner. The irregular shape of the rim seen in our illustrations are due to crimping to form the foliate rim and an imperfection at one point. There are no chips, no frits and no cracks. The bowl sits well on its foot and with no significant leaning. The shape of the bowl sustains some warp from the firing. Some earth or kiln oxidation (not certain which) stubbornly adheres to places on the outside of the bowl. Usual minor faults including a little grit inside the cavetto, pin holes and small openings in the glaze, and three spur relics along the foot. Diameter at the widest point is 7 1/2 inches (19.05cm). Height is about 2 1/2 inches (6.35cm)
A fine, modern footed dish with red, green and yellow overglaze and with cobalt blue and manganese underglaze decoration. The hexagonal, everted rim with red border defining a cloud band around conforming hexagonal cavetto with chidori (sparrows) alternating with polychrome squares - borders of decoration all picked out with manganese (giving an iron effect but fading nicely into the blue decoration rather than spoiling it with fade to brown. The splayed foot with a cloud pattern in modern interpretation of the Nabeshima tradition. As we describe this unusual object, it should become more apparent that it is rather substantial (though small, sturdy potting) and not commercial production. The dish - top and bottom - as well as the foot retains impressed decoration and texture in the porcelain over which the decoration was added with deference... the blue glaze, for example, lightly filling the recesses of, perhaps, a hemp impression over a more broadly ridged surface and leaving the highpoints almost white. The same molded and impressed texture can be felt top and bottom of the dish and the cloud pattern on the foot can also be felt when running one's finger along the decoration. The unglazed foot rim reveals a fine, white kaolin with smooth feel to the touch. Unfortunately, though the molded and impressed decoration rather nicely retained texture, a square impressed mark inside the foot did not and offers no legible mark. We are comfortable proposing an attribution to Hajime Kato (1900 - 1968) but can not make any definitive claim and estimate accordingly. Perfect condition. Diameter, point to point, 6 3/4 inches (17.145 cm). Height, 2 1/4 inches (5.715 cm)