THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
HAMADA SHŌJI (1894–1978), A GROUP OF ELEVEN DISHES SHOWA PERIOD, 20TH CENTURY
each of shallow circular form of coarse reddish clay, variously glazed in brown and black glazes on a greyish body with abstract designs, tomobako fitted wodden box signed Shōji saku [made by Shōji], Namako-yu egawari-zara [Namako-glazed egawari dish], Shinsaku shiki [acknowledged by Shinsaku]
Each approx. 8.5 cm., 7¼ in. cm. diam.
- All in good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Born in 1894 in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Hamada Shōji (1894–1978) is widely recognised as one of the most influential potters of the 20th century.
Hamada began his formal instruction in Japan, graduating from the ceramics department of Tokyo Industrial High School (Tokyo koto kogyo gakko) under the supervision of Itaya Hazan (1872–1963) in 1916, and following graduation, Hamada worked at the Kyoto Tojiki Kenkyujyo Kyoto Ceramics Testing Institute (Kyoto shi tojiki kenkyujo). Thereafter, he spent three formative years working with the British potter Bernard Leach (1887–1979) at his studio in St. Ives, Cornwall.
Returning to Japan in 1924, Hamada settled in Mashiko in the Tochigi prefecture. Along with his close friend Yanagi Sōetsu (1889–1961), he co-founded the Nihon Mingei Kai [Japanese Folk Art Association] that focused on everyday objects produced by common craftsmen, as opposed to highly refined works of art (fine art) as a response to Japan’s rapid industrialization.
The Mingei craftsmen relied on local materials and techniques to preserve the cultural and historical tradition of handmade crafts. A similar movement was occurring first in Britain, leading to the Arts and Crafts Movement, which later flourished across the Euro-American regions.
Hamada was among the first craftsmen to be designated a Ningen Kokuhō [Living National Treasures] in 1955 and was appointed to the Bunka Kunshō [Order of Cultural Merit] in 1978. Widely recognised as one of the most influential potters of the 20th century, Hamda continues to inspire generations of potters and art lovers and to make them re-think what it means to live a “simple life”.
This group of eleven handmade dishes with their earthy haptics and optics using local clay individually decorated with different glazes embodies Hamada’s philosophy of returning to lifestyle essentials and living simply with the earth.
For a similar example of a set of ash glazed dishes see: The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, Hamada Shoji: The Horio Mikio Collection in The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, (Osaka, 2012), p.53, pl. 56.