Shibata Zeshin 柴田是真 (1807-1891), Zansaisage (box for leftovers) with design of the moon and mare’s-tail 月に杉菜図蒔絵残菜提, Meiji era (1868-1912), circa 1870-1890. Estimate £15,000 – 20,000 (€19,000 – 25,000). Photo: Bonhams
With tapering sides, rounded corners, and fitted lid, the wood body in dark green-brown seidō-nuri and with a design of the full moon with seed-heads and stalks of sugina(mare’s-tail), the moon in shibuichi-nuri on the lid and one side, the sugina in takamaki-e with kirigane and shell, some details carved and scratched, the top edge of the box with a key-fret pattern in silver togidashi maki-e imitating silver inlay in bronze Signed in scratched characters on the underside of the lid Zeshin 是真 – 9.2 × 11.9 × 6.9 cm (3 5/8 × 4 5/8 × 2¾ in.). With fitted wooden storage box inscribed Onzansage 御残提 (Box for leftovers) and open-weave silk storage bag
Exhibited and published: Nezu Bijutsukan 2012, cat. no. 32
Notes: This type of box was likely intended for use during an outdoor tea ceremony in late spring or early summer, perhaps in conjunction with a larger tea-utensil box of the same form. The Khalili Collection includes such a box, decorated like this one with Zeshin’s favourite spring plants; a second box, in a different shape, has the same dramatic moon design (Earle 1996, cat. nos. 9-10). The fertile sugina heads are variously either lacquered in takamaki-e with a stylized hexagonal ground or carved and scratched to produce a more painterly, naturalistic effect, a contrast characteristically reflecting Zeshin’s dual background as both painter and lacquerer. Capturing an exact moment in the year, the group of plants is shown at the stage when sterile stalks, intact fertile heads, and fertile heads beginning to release their seeds all occur simultaneously. The lustrous green-brown ground is an outstanding example of Zeshin’s meticulous craftsmanship.
Bonhams. THE MISUMI COLLECTION OF IMPORTANT WORKS OF LACQUER ART AND PAINTINGS, Part I – 5 Nov 2014 14:00 GMT – LONDON, NEW BOND STREET