An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912
Lot 294*
An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover
By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912
£200,000 - 250,000
US$ 330,000 - 420,000
Auction Details
An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912 An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912
Lot Details
An important documentary inlaid shirokiri (white paulownia) wood tebako (cosmetic box) and cover
By Asahi Gyokuzan (1843-1923), dated 1912
Decorated on the outside with flowering chrysanthemums, arranged in a diagonal composition across the domed cover, with the design of a single stalk continuing down one side, the inside of the cover with one plover in flight, the en-suite, fitted, detachable tray with two plovers in flight, the inside of the box embellished with drops of water inlaid in mother-of-pearl among pebbles, each side also applied with a shell and ring handle, all variously inlaid in wood, mother-of-pearl, pewter and coloured horn, set against the natural unpolished grain of white paulownia wood; the rim of silvered-metal, signed with circular seal Gyokuzan; with double tomobako dated and signed by the artist Meiji yonju-go nen go-gatsu (May in Meiji 45 [1912]), Asahi Gyokuzan saku with seal Gyokuzan. 7cm x 29.5cm x 21.5cm (2¾in x 11 5/8in x 8½in). (4).

Footnotes

  • 菊に千鳥図象嵌白桐製手箱 旭玉山作 明治45年(1912年)

    Born in Asakusa, Asahi Gyokuzan together with Ishikawa Komei (1852-1913) were designated Teishitsu gigeiin (Imperial Court Artists) and were two of the most famous and influential carvers in Japan during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Gyokuzan first trained as a Buddhist priest in the late Edo period, but as a young man Gyokuzan took to a more secular life as a carver. He soon became renowned for his unsettlingly realistic compositions of skulls and skeletons. After becoming a professor at the Tokyo Art School, he later moved to Kyoto. Here Gyokuzan re-established his Buddhist ties, while also mastering techniques of inlay.

    A hallmark of the finest Japanese art is the depiction of the magical transience of nature, and this is elegantly and poetically encapsulated in the subject matter of the changing season which is being depicted here. The chrysanthemums, quintessential symbol of Autumn, the coming to the end of the open beauty of Summer's flowering and the beginning of the seasonal change of colours and seeds back to the earth, like the box that can be open with its content showing or closed, holding within it many treasures, only to be opened again for the next cycle.

    The chrysanthemums are placed very cleverly to the left and arranged diagonally across the cover, and to the one side using the space not as a flat surface, but as a miniature landscape. The chrysanthemums are designed to face different directions, some flowers facing out, others to the side and more to the back, thus giving the viewer the feeling of depth and space as if inside the box itself. More so, the artist created the flowers in different stages of blooming, so we can find buds appearing and fresh young curling petals; these are made exquisitely with assorted shell and mother of pearl that gives a life-like glow to the flowers.

    The box, which is itself a static object, carries the most unusual feeling of movement. The artist deliberately used this medium since a box is to be opened and closed, to create a series of stories and movement of life concealed within: the changing colour of Autumn, the growing plants, the flying birds, and the light droplets of water, inlaid in mother-of-pearl - to contrast its weight and colour - among the pebbles. Furthermore, by virtue of a box's enclosed empty space, the viewer gets a sophisticated design of a three-dimensional object where the clever usage of space is manipulated to include the basic five elements of nature, the WOOD which is the box itself, the birds that represent the WIND, the EARTH from which the flowers grow, and the WATER represented by fine drops of water on top of pebbles (made again with mother-of-pearl) all three symbols of water, and the METAL used for the handles.

    The selection of contrasting inlay is also deliberately chosen and is set off most effectively by the natural white paulownia-wood ground, on what is a utilitarian object, resulting in a creation which appeals as much to the recipient's intellect, as it does to the emotions. Furthermore, there is a fine contrast between the empty space and the engraved one, both by the placement of the subjects in their respective spaces, as well as by the virtuoso complex technique of inlay and engraving. There are over five shades of wood for the birds themselves, as well as the leaves and stems of the flowers, the details of which are of all of exceptional quality. At once, evocative, lyrical and dynamic, it is a tour-de-force in design, epitomising the height of craftmanship, representing the best of Japanese art during a period of great changes in this field.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
* Import low rate

VAT on imported items at a preferential rate of 5% on Hammer Price and the prevailing rate on Buyer's Premium.

Contacts
  1. Suzannah Yip
    Specialist - Japanese Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8368
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5840