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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: Seated Female Figure
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1670
Creation End Date: 1690
Creation Date: Edo period, c. 1670-1690
Creation Place: Japan, Saga Prefecture
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with overglaze enamels, with traces of gold (Arita ware, Kakiemon style)
Dimensions: H. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.241
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The rapid development and diversification of the Japanese porcelain industry in the 17th century is one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of ceramics. During this period, the city of Arita, located in the Saga Prefecture in Hizen Province on the southern island of Kyushu, became the largest and most important center for the production of porcelain in the world. Several factors contributed to this development. One was the contribution of the many technically advanced potters brought to Japanfrom Korea during the late 16th-century Japanese invasions of that country. Another was the prohibitive effects of the civil disarray in 17th-century China on its ceramic industry, which led Europeans and other customers in search of highly prized porcelains to turn to Japan.
Many questions remain regarding the development of porcelain in Japan. Traditionally, the discovery of the type of clay needed to produce porcelains has been credited to a potter named Ri Sampei, who was one of the Korean artisansbrought to Japan. Production of porcelains began around 1610 in the Karatsu stoneware kilns located just to the north of Arita. Karatsu wares also reflected the influence of other Korean advances, such as sophisticated types of kilns and kick wheels for throwing.
The first Japanese porcelains were painted with underglaze cobalt blue, known as "old blue-and-white" ware (ko-sumetsuke). But by about 1640, overglaze enamels had been added to the palette. It is generally accepted that overglaze enamels were introduced to Kyushu from Kyoto rather than from China. One reason for this assumption is the use of a vibrant overglaze blue in both Kyoto ware and Japanese porcelains, a color not found in Chinese ceramics of that period.
The majority of Japanese porcelains are classified as Arita wares, based on the location of their production. Arita wares are traditionally subdivided into Imari, Kakiemon, and Nabeshima styles (although this system is currently under revision). This sculpture of a seated woman, painted in the Kakiemon-style palette of pale overglaze enamels, is representative of a popular type of porcelain figure produced in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many examples are found in European collections. The beautiful woman (bijin) theme invoked here was a staple of Japanese ukiyo ('floating world') paintings and woodblocks. The clothing and hairstyle seen here were popular in Japan during the Kanbun era (1661-1673), when this coiffure and the loose outer robe and black sash were worn by courtesans. The hairstyle, with the hair pulled up and wound around an ornamental pin, is believed to have originated at the court. The woman's kimono is decorated with a red lattice pattern on which are multicolored floral medallions.Plums and floral wheels are painted on her outer garment. Seated women such as this are much rarer than standing figures. The body of this sculpture was produced using press molds, and the head and hands were slip cast for greater delicacy of modeling.
Porcelain figurines of beautiful women, lion-dogs, and ducks were exported to Europe as exotic examples of the art of Japan, and it is unlikely that their imagery was well understood there. This is particularly true in the sculptures of women, which were often identified as men in early Western publications on Japanese porcelains.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 106.
Related Document Description: Meech-Pekarik, Julia. 'Notable Japanese Ceramics.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 437.
Related Document Description: Shimada, Shujiro, ed. Zaigai Nihon no shiho (Japanese Art Treasures Abroad). Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbun, 1981, vol. 9, pl. 54.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.241
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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