Mots-clefs

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Paper screen. Paper, mineral colour, 168.5 x 187 cm, Japan, Edo period, 19th century. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A two-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with a resting hanaguruma (flower cart) laden with flowers including red and white botan (peony), ajisai (hydrangea), kiku (chrysanthemum), hagi (bush clover) red and white yuri (lilies) and a branch of weeping sakura (cherry tree) in full bloom. Some details of the cart and the chrysanthemums are rendered in moriage (raised design).

Provenance: Holcombe House, Painswick, Gloucestershire, UK

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A seated Amida Nyorai (Amitābha). Wood, crystal; 79 x 65 x 53 cm; Japan, Heian period, 11th century. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

The head adorned with crystals representing the byakugō (white spiraling hair) on the forehead and the nikkei-shu (red jewel on the protrusion on top of the Buddha’s head). The right arm raised and the left arm extended with the forefinger and thumb of each hand forming a circle representing the raigōin mudra, welcoming the believer into Amida’s Great Western Paradise.

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A pair of four-fold paper screens. Ink and mineral colour on gold and paper, Japan, 18th century, Edo Period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A pair of four-fold paper screens painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with calligraphy and several applied paintings, 110 x 256 cm.

The first screen screen has three fan paintings, the first one on the right hand side, shows hills with sakura (cherry blossom) and refers to the meisho (famous place) Yoshino, a favourite spot for picnics and parties during the cherry blossom season. The second fan is painted on both sides, one with plants and the other with autumn grasses and the final fan on the left shows a matsu (Japanese pine).

The calligraphy reads:

First panel: Sanshi seiran Mountain village after storm
Second panel: Gyoson sekishō Fishing village in sunset glow
Third panel: Enho kihan Returning sails off distant shore
Fourth panel: Kōten bosetsu River sky in evening snow

Moving on to the second screen the first fan is also painted on both sides, the main part with two birds on a branch and the back with a scene from the Tale of Genji. Beneath it is a panel painted in sumi-e (ink) of Shoki (the demon-queller) standing on a bridge above a fast running river, looking for an Oni (demon) who is hiding under the bridge. Further to the left, the next fan shows autumn grasses on one side and asagao (morning glory) on the reverse. The final fan has several egrets in a river landscape.

The calligraphy reads:

First panel: dōtei shūgetsu Autumn moon over lake Dongting
Second panel: heisa rakugan A wild geese descending to sandbar
Third panel: enji banshō Evening bell from a distant temple
Fourth panel: shōshō yau Night rain over the Xiao and Xang

The Chinese Xiaoxiang bajing; (eight views of the Xiao and the Xiang) eight designated scenes of the area around the confluence of the Xiao and Xiang rivers and Lake Dongting in China’s Hunan province. Each of the eight views is identified by a four character poetic title as translated here. Japanese paintings of the Shoushou Hakkei, particularly those executed on byobu (folding screens) and fusuma (sliding doors), often have a distinct seasonal character and show the changes from spring to winter through the eight scenes. The Japanese also adapted the idea of eight views and applied it to their own geography. The Oumi Hakkei (eight views of the Lake Biwa region) and the Kanazawa Hakkei (eight views of Kanazawa) being just two examples.

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Pair of six-fold paper screens. Ink and mineral colour on gold and paper ground. Japan, 17th century, Edo period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A pair of six-fold paper screens painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with tsuru (cranes) and matsu (pine trees), 174 x 373 cm.

Tsuru (cranes) are among the premier symbols of longevity and good fortune in East Asia. For at least two millennia, the Chinese have viewed them as living to a great age and as being able to navigate between heaven and earth. In turn, these attributes have made them logical companions of sennin, the Taoist Immortals. Ancient Taoist alchemists believed that imbibing beverages made with crane eggs or tortoise shells would increase one’s vital energies.

The pair of cranes depicted on the right-hand screen are the white-naped crane, which migrates yearly to its wintering grounds in Southern Japan. The red-crowned, or Japanese, cranes depicted in the painting on the left-hand screen are said to live for 1.000 years.

In Japan, the crane is the animal most frequently seen in the fine and applied arts. Although a common subject of painting, it is most closely associated with the New Year and with marriage ceremonies. In earlier times, when the Japanese still used circular brass mirrors and presented them on the occasion of a marriage, the crane was a favoured decorative theme due to its association with fidelity. In recent centuries, the crane has appeared on elaborately embroidered wedding kimono and among the mizuhiki (cord made from twisted paper) decorations presented at the time of betrothal.

The matsu (pine tree) holds a prominent role in Japanese art, largely due to its auspicious associations which were originally adopted form Chinese traditions. This evergreen has long been seen as a symbol of longevity, steadfastness and good fortune due to its ability to remain green and fresh even during the fiercest of winters. Furthermore, in Japan the pine has always been prized for its practical uses, and its attractive appearance lends itself to being creatively represented in both painting and design. Along with the plum and bamboo, the pine is also one of the ‘Three Friends of Winter’ which is a popular theme in Japanese art.

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Two-fold paper screen. Ink on paper and gold ground. Inscribed ‘Eishin Hōgen hitsu’ (painted by Eishin Hōgen), ‘Kojakuan kaō shō’ (authenticated by Kojakuan* with monogramme). Japan, 17th-18th century, Edo period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A two-fold paper screen painted in ink on a buff and gold ground with a tora (tiger) crouching beneath a rocky outcrop on the seashore with araumi (cresting waves); 177 x 195 cm.

Kanō Yasunobu (1613-1685). Familiar names: Genshirō, Shirojirō, Ukyōnoshin. Gō (art names): Bokushinsai, Eishin, Ryōfusai, Seikanshi. Yasunobu was the son of Kanō Takanobu, who died when Yasunobu was a child. He studied under Kanō Kōi and his elder brother Tan’yū. Yasunobu began working in Kyoto, then moved to Edo with Tan’yū, who founded there the Kajibashi branch of the Kanō family. He became goyō eshi (official painter) to the shogun’s court, founding the Makabashi Kanō School. Yasunobu was later adopted by Kanō Sadanobu as his heir; hence also regarded as the eighth-generation head of the main Kyoto Kanō line. A connoisseur of paintings, Yasunobu signed many certificates of authentication for Kanō paintings. He was awarded the honorary title of Hōgen (lit. Eye of the Law). One of his greatest accomplishments was painting the walls of the Shishinden Seiken of the Imperial Palace, Kyoto. He also painted landscapes, figures, kachōga (birds and flowers) and Buddhist subjects.

*Ōkura Kōsai (1795- 1863). Gō (art name): Kojakuan. An art connoisseur and authenticator who served the Tokugawa Family in Kishu Province. In 1825 Ōkura Kōsai became a monk and took the art name Kojakuan. In 1851 he was granted the title of Hokkyō (lit.Bridge of the Law) the third highest honorary title bestowed upon Japanese Buddhist priests.

Freely drawn representations of cresting waves, foam and sea spray are known as araumi (lit. rough sea) motifs. Following in the artistic traditions of T’ang China, such seas were initially portrayed with fearsome animals among the waves such as on this particular screen.

Tora (tiger), in Chinese thinking, is supreme among the land beasts and it is sometimes depicted with the ideograph for the word ‘king’ on its forehead. Although viewed as dangerous, it is a symbol of strength, courage, longevity and is also accredited with the ability to fend off demons, ill-fortune and disease.
In the traditional cosmology of China, the tiger is one of the Four Sacred Creatures, representing autumn, the western direction, the wind and the colour white. It is thus the complement of the dragon, which represents the east, spring, and water. The interaction of the two representing the play between wind and water is thought vital for creating the nurturing weather that makes soil fertile and crops prosper.
Japan’s artistic treatment of tigers is usually highly stylised. With no indigenous specimens to study artists of the pre-modern period constructed their notions of the tiger from skins imported into the country. This has resulted in a rather cat-like depiction of this noble feline beast.

n.b. Whilst painted by a member of the Kanō school I do not believe this screen to be a work by Kanō Yasunobu.

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Fujii Shōrin (1824-1894), Four-fold paper screen. Ink and mineral colours on paper. Japan, 19th century, Meiji period, *1887. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A four-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a buff ground with five flying suzume (sparrows) among golden clouds; 137 x 241 cm. Signed ‘Hinoto i shoshū kin’ō Shōrin sha’ (Painted by Shōrin, official painter and old man, in early autumn of the Hinoto i year*). Upper seal ‘Fuji in Kōbun’ (seal of Fuji Kōbun). Lower seal ‘Shōrin’.

Fujii Shōrin Gō (art name): Kōbun, Seien, Hyakusai. Born as the oldest son to a feudal lord in Chōjamachi near the Fukuyama castle Hiroshima, Shōrin was an official painter who served at the Fukuyama Domain (Bingo province).

He started his career in 1837 at 14 years old and became a young painting assistant in order to manifest his talent in painting. After a 10-year apprenticeship Shōrin decided this was the correct path for him and set his mind on Kyoto and its painting circles.

In 1856, after completing a coastal defense survey map for his hometown Fukuyama feud he moved to Kyoto where he became a disciple of the Maruyama School master Nakajima Raishō (1796-1871). He became friends with other prominent artists of master Raihō’s art circle such as Mori Kansai (1814-1894), Kōno Bairei (1844-1895) and Kawabata Gyokushō (1842-1913) amongst others. Shōrin also studied waka poetry under Ōkuni Takamasa (1793-1871) and Matsumoto Yoshitō (1814-1879).

In 1859 Shōrin returned to his family and continued working in a double post as an official cartographer and a commissioner at the Fukuyama Shogunate Account Magistrate Office.

Recognition amongst the artistic circles came later in his 50’s with an array of National exhibition participations, honourable mentions, Imperial donations and awards for excellence in painting. His painting of swimming koi (carp) fish painted in 1889 is said to have challenged similar paintings by Maruyama Ōkyo and the realism expressed in the animation of figures and facial features of his painting of 100 wise and lucky men was considered an equal match to the illustrations of Hokusai.

His greatest achievement however was a three-year project completed in 1893 when Shōrin was 70 years old. He was commissioned to cover the walls and fusuma doors of the Abbot’s champers and living quarters of Jōdo-ji in Onomichi Hiroshima with his paintings of animals, plants and landscapes. The temple was so densely decorated with Shōrin’s art that it became known as Shōrin-ji (lit. Shōrin’s temple).

Shōrin is buried in Hōshin-ji at Yoshizu Fukuyama and two pine trees are planted next to his tombstone.

Works by the artist can be found in the collection of Fukuyama Museum of Art, Hiroshima.

Suzume (sparrow) is said to be obsessed with honour and especially with the repaying of debts making it a particularly popular subject matter with the samurai class.

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Ryoji Koie. A six-fold paper screen. Ink on paper and gold ground. Japan, Heisei period, 2013. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A six-fold paper screen painted in ink on a gold ground with calligraphy; 173.5 x 368 cm. Inscribed ‘hibi deisui’ (blind drunk everyday).Signed ‘Ryoji Koie’.

This contemporary painting by Ryoji Koie is a clear example of the artist’s ebullient personality. Although famous for his ceramic art, he never misses the opportunity to surprise his admirers by betraying their expectations and producing something different, be it in ceramic or another medium.

The calligraphy writing of hibi deisui (blind drunk everyday) captures the characteristic rhythm that the artist is known to use while creating in his studio. In order to cope with his extremely busy schedule and continue to produce work, Koie has said that he drinks, creates and sleeps cyclically at irregular intervals.

“I don’t work without drinking. So I do my job while drinking, and when I get tired from drinking too much, I go to bed. Then, when I wake up, I start drinking and working. I keep on repeating that.”
(Interview by Yokoya Hideko 2002)

Ryoji Koie was born in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture in 1938. He has exhibited and participated in numerous workshops around the world with a flexible attitude and a power transcending international borders.

Apart from his clay ceramics rendered in the classical Oribe-style with its green copper glaze, Koie adopts a variety of styles and art disciplines, from happenings with raw earth to significant works of social commentary which raise the eyebrows of the traditional ceramic establishment. He enjoys innovation whether through his paintings or via the surface of his pots. It is in this flexible approach between materials and styles that he shows his rebellious character. While his work reflects all the pleasure and value associated with the Japanese sense of beauty, there is in them a break with tradition.

Koie started producing his own pottery in 1957 soon after graduating high school and before entering the Tokoname Ceramic Art Institute. During his busy career he has won numerous awards (3rd Prize in the Contemporary Japanese Ceramics Exhibition (1962); Point and Line accepted, Asahi Ceramic Art Exhibition (1963-69); Japanese Contemporary Craft Art Exhibition (1963-64); Grand Prix, 3rd Biannual International Ceramics Exhibition, Vallauris, France (1971); 3rd Oribe Award (2001); Chunichi Cultural Award (2005); Gold Prize, the Japan Ceramic Society Award (2008))

Koie has travelled extensively and has produced works in America, Britain, Italy, Mexico and South Korea. A member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC) since 1980, his work has been exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Centre National de Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2002 he completed building a twenty-meter anagama (single-chamber kiln) in his hometown Okujo in Tokoname, which was specifically made to fire uneven ceramics.

Works by the artist can be found in the collections of Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art; Idemitsu Museum; Kyung Sung University Museum, Pusan; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seoul; Musée Ariana, Geneva; Museo internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy; Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu; Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; River Retreat Garaku, Toyama; Seoul Museum of Art; Tokoname City Hall, Aichi; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art

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Miyagawa (Makuzu) Kōzan, Kōro (incense burner). Porcelain, 11 x 12 x 14 cm. Impressed seal mark ‘Eiraku Hozan’.Japan, 19th-20th century, Meiji-Taishō period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

This kōro (incense burner) is in the form of a rabbit, the eyes in under glaze red and the reticulated cover in the form of a tama (Buddhist Jewel).

Miyagawa (Makuzu) Kōzan (1842-1916) was a potter in the Meiji Era. A remarkable figure with outstanding business acumen, Kōzan had the ability to respond to changing circumstances, whilst exploring technical innovations and yet maintaining his fidelity to Japanese artistic traditions.
He came from a long line of potters based in Kyoto and took over the family business in 1860, at the age of nineteen. In the summer of 1871, he set up a kiln and a shop in Yokohama and started to manufacture ceramics for the export market. This was a bold move for despite the obvious advantages of being close to the capital, Tokyo, and the tourist shops and trading houses of Yokohama, there was no tradition of porcelain manufacturing there.
Nevertheless, during the 1880s Kōzan started to concentrate on producing the high-quality porcelain for which he is best known today and the Kōzan Workshop introduced a vast range of new decorative effects drawn both from Japanese and Chinese ceramic traditions and from newly developed Western techniques and styles. His pieces were very popular in the West and he gained international recognition at the Paris International Exposition of 1889, where he won a gold medal. Part of Kōzan’s commercial success lay in his ability to absorb not just new approaches to design, but also elements of western ceramic technology. In 1896 he was awarded the position of Teishitsu Gigeiin (Artist to the Imperial Houshold). He was only the second potter to achieve this honour. He continued to exhibit successfully until his death in 1916.

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Shakujō (Buddist staff) finial. Bronze, 22 x 10 cm. Inscribed ‘Dō shin’ (conscience), Japan, 12th century, Kamakura period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

The inscription on the back of this particular shakujō expresses the zeal and determination of the owner to undergo the hardships of the ascetic practices and training. Its primary meaning embodies the idea of deciding one’s correct path after carefully judging right from wrong. A reminder of one’s strong faith in Buddhism this expression was usually used by young monks who entered the practice while still in their early teenage years.
Shakujō (lit. tin cane) is a Buddhist ringed staff used in prayer to make a distinctive sound and originates from the Indian khakkhara (sounding staff) which is made of bronze or iron. In Japan it is usually made of wood topped with a metal finial with two sections each with three rings, these six rings represent the Six States of Existence or the cycle of samsara, suffering and reincarnation (Beings in Hell, Hungry Ghosts, Animals, Asura, Humans and Deva).
The shakujō is one of the many things a pilgrim monk should carry with him including a nenju (rosary), suge kasa (pilgrim’s hat) and a ji-rei (bell). Its metal rings were originally used by the travelling monk to alert small creatures of his passage and to keep them from accidentally being harmed. It was also used to frighten away dangerous snakes or beasts that the priest might have encountered. The shakujō could also serve as a cane to help the priest walk. When begging, he rattled this staff to announce his arrival at the door or gate of a household without breaking the vow of silence.
In the Japanese martial art shōrinji kempō (Japanese equivalent of Shaolin Kungfu) the shakujō is also used as a weapon in a technique called shakujō-den (method of the shakujō).

Literature: For two similar examples in the collection of Hasedera Temple, Nara see Handicrafts 1, Important Cultural Property, vol. 24, 1976, p. 94, pl. 279

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Ueda Kōho (1860-1944), Four-fold paper screen. Ink and mineral colour on paper and gold ground. Seal ‘Ueda Kōho’. Japan, 20th century, Taishō-Shōwa period. Gregg Baker Asian Art (stand 261). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

A four-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with a takegaki (woven bamboo fence) and tsuta (Japanese ivy). The red leaves of the ivy denote that the season is late autumn. 77.5 x 278 cm.

Ueda Kōho was born in Osaka, the son of the Maruyama School painter Ueda Kōchū (1819-1911). Kōho was a follower of the Nanga School and was active throughout the Meiji, Taishō and Shōwa periods.

Tsuta (Japanese ivy) has long been used as a design motif and is praised in Japanese literature for its beauty. In art its appearance can allude to the tsuta no hosomichi (lit. narrow road of ivy), made famous in episode 9 of Ise Monogatari (Tales of Ise). In this scene the hero who is often identified as Ariwara no Narihira (825-880) is travelling to Mt Utsu and encounters a narrow passage overgrown by ivy and maple. Here he meets a wandering ascetic headed back towards the capital and entrusts him with a message for a lady there.

‘On and on they went until they reached Suruga Province and came to Mount Utsu. The path across it was very dark and narrow, overgrown with ivy and maples, and they were feeling depressed about their situation when they met an ascetic. “What are you doing here, on a path like this?” he asked. The man recognised him. He wrote a letter for the ascetic to take to his loved one in the Capital:

Suruga naru
Utsu no yamabe no
utsutsu ni mo
yume ni mo hito ni
awanu narikeri

Where in Suruga
rise the flanks of Mount Utsu,
neither the senses
nor dreams ever gladden me
with the presence of my love’

(Tales of Ise, excerpt from episode 9, translated by Joshua Mostow and Royall Tyler)

The poem above plays on the name of Mt. Utsu, since it resembles the word utsutsu meaning ‘consciousness’. It was a popular belief that your lover would appear in your dreams when they thought of you. Therefore, with this poem the hero is in fact noting his insecurity and fear that he may no longer be in the thoughts of his lover left behind in the capital.

Established in Mayfair in 1985, the gallery is now located on Kensington Church Street, London, long established as a centre of art and antiques and attracting buyers from all over the world.

The gallery focuses on antique Japanese paper screens with the largest stock in Europe. Our works of art range from metalwork, in the form of flower vessels and sculpture, to lacquer ware, cloisonné, scrolls, scholar’s objects and Buddhist sculpture not only from Japan but also selected works from China and Korea.

We have been instrumental in advising and building collections for clients and supplying additions to the collections of museums in Great Britain, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and the U.S.A.

Gregg Baker Asian ArtDirectors: Olympia Toptsidou, Annika MacFarlan

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