Works by Imperial Household Artists, Maki-e Lacquerware
In the Meiji era the production of superb artworks such as metalwork, cloisonné, and maki-e was an important Japanese industry for putting on display the country’s sophisticated culture and national power just as it was beginning to open to the outside world. The Imperial Household Artist system was established to continue and further develop these fine art skills under the protection of the Imperial Family.
In the Japanese art world of the time, an appointment as an Imperial Household Artist was the highest of honors, one that at the same time imposed on the artist the responsibilities to produce works on request from the Imperial Family or Imperial Household Ministry, cultivate their technique to its highest possible extent, and foster the development of a younger generation of artists.
There were only four artists appointed in the maki-e field: Shibata Zeshin, Ikeda Daishin, Kawanobe Iccho, and Shirayama Shosai. Each was a superb representative of Japan and their works flourished at international expositions. They overwhelmed the competition with sophisticated and perfectly executed designs that possessed unparalleled grace and elegance.
At this exhibition we present works by these four Imperial Household Artists and invite you to gaze at your leisure on the exquisitely original and elegant works they left behind.