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A fine soft-metal-inlaid bronze vase Oshima Yasutaro (born 1849), signed Dai nihon Shokaken, Meiji Period, late 19th century
The vase constructed in three sections, elaborately inlaid in gold, silver, shakudo and coloured metal hirazogan and takazogan, the cover with Empress Gensho (683–748) seated on rockwork, her kimono and outer robe finely detailed with brocade design, her hair carved and chased with an elaborate headress in silver, the rockwork with bamboo leaves and moss inlaid in silver and gold, each of the four corners with archaic-form ho-o birds, the cover fitting closely into the main section of the vase, the rectangular section with an upper rim with four panels of flowers and foliage, insects on Musashi moor and plum blossom in moonlight, inlaid into silver, and shakudo, the slightly rounded section beneath with two large panels framed in silver depicting Prince Obito, who was later to become Emperor Shomu, standing beneath an umbrella held by an attendant, the two figures beside pine trees and rockwork and a meandering stream, the other panel with a wood cutter holding a ladle and sake flask beneath a cascading waterfall, the panels bordered by intricate gold, silver and shakudo inlay with blossom, on a nanako ground, the sides with two handles in the form of swallows, their feathers finely inlaid, chased, cut and carved, gold eyes, the whole section on a circular foot, the signature and an ikebana display on the underside (see image), this fitting into the base, the circular opening revealing a central deisgn to the base of clematis (see image), the top with fans and tempestuous waves, each decorated with birds, flowers, inlaid silver spray, bordered by a geometric design and further very fine inlay of flowers, the four archaic style feet with chidori flying above waves, the feet on a plinth elaborately inlaid in silver with brocade lappett design, the whole with a rich deep patination uniformely over the vase, fitted liner
57 cm high, 22 1/2  in.
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相關資料

Before the Meiji period (1868–1912), the casting of bronze had been predominantly made for use in Buddhist ritual paraphernalia and samurai warrior accessories, which flourished during the Edo period (1615–1868). However, due to the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in the mid-19th century, demand for these equipments was only decreasing, and the new Meiji government would eventually issue the Abolition of Buddhism (Haibutsu Kishaku) and the Sword Abolishment Edict (Haitorei) in 1876. Consequently, Japanese metalworkers lost their traditional patrons and were obliged to find new markets for their skills, which resulted in a dissolution of the traditional boundaries of art and definitions of beauty by incorporating Western elements in their craftmanship. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, decorative bronze vessels were made that were never intended for practical use but purely for visual appreciation.

Oshima Yasutaro (artist name: Shokaken) was born to a prominent family of metalworkers in 1849 and was a son of Oshima Takajiro. Together with his younger brother Oshima Joun (1858–1940), he successfully ran a studio called Sanseisha and produced bronzes of the finest quality. In Recollections of Oshima Joun, by Katori Hozuma published in 1941 by Tokyo Chukin-kai (Tokyo Cast Metalwork Association), he talked of his older brother who died young as being of the first rank of bronze metalwork artists in 1878, producing works of the very highest quality and commissioned for the world exhibitions. Shokaken indeed exhibited his works at numerous international expositions, including a metalwork incense burner at the Vienna World Exposition in 1873, which is now housed in the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts and Contemporary Art, Vienna. (Illustrated in Arts of East and West From World Expositions 1855-1900: Paris, Vienna and Chicago (Commemorating the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan), (Osaka, 2004), p 020, plate l-16)

Treasures

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