Bonhams offers part three of a record-breaking private collection of Japanese works of art

Acknowledged as one of Europe's foremost private collections, the Edward Wrangham collection includes masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin, Shirayama Shosai and Ogawa Haritsu

15 May 2012, The Edward Wrangham Collection of Japanese Art: Part III

Bonhams offers part three of a record-breaking private collection of Japanese works of art

Acknowledged as one of Europe's foremost private collections, the Edward Wrangham collection includes masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin, Shirayama Shosai and Ogawa Haritsu

15 May 2012, The Edward Wrangham Collection of Japanese Art: Part III

Bonhams offers part three of a record-breaking private collection of Japanese works of art

Acknowledged as one of Europe's foremost private collections, the Edward Wrangham collection includes masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin, Shirayama Shosai and Ogawa Haritsu

15 May 2012, The Edward Wrangham Collection of Japanese Art: Part III

Following two successful sales of the Edward Wrangham Collection, having already realised over £3.7 million, Bonhams is delighted to announce Part III of the collection that will take place on the 15th May at New Bond Street.

Considered to be one of Europe's pre-eminent and comprehensive private collections of Japanese miniature art, it was formed by the late environmentalist, mountaineer, scholar and collector Edward Wrangham OBE.

One of the last of the great British collectors, Wrangham's first piece of Japanese art was given to him in 1936 when he was just eight years old. Wrangham continued to add to his collection until his death in 2009, sourcing works of art from all over the world. His collection, which was reviewed and published by Wrangham himself, consists of over 1000 examples of inro, netsuke and Japanese sword fittings assembled over many decades.

The world record for an inro** sold at auction was broken in 2010 during Part I of the Edward Wrangham sale.

A lacquer, single-case inro in the sale, by the artist Shibata Zeshin- who still holds the world record price for an inro sold at auction- is estimated to sell for £20,000–30,000. Decorated with branches that have been skilfully rendered to create a realistic and textured surface to contrast with the smooth, glossy lacquer finish of the large persimmon fruit exemplifies minimalist craftsmanship at its very best. This is a classic example of lacquer work by Zeshin; the simulated bronze ground often favoured by the artist provides an elegant canvas for his understated still-life designs. A rare bamboo hako-netsuke (rounded rectangular toggle) by Zeshin is estimated to sell for £2,000–3,000. Zeshin is one of the most highly regarded painters and lacquerers of the 19th century and works of this quality are in high demand by collectors at an international level.

A silver four-case inro by Koma Kansai depicting two crows perched on a snow-covered, twisted trunk of a pine tree is estimated to sell for £20,000–25,000. In Japan, the crow is considered an auspicious creature and is a popular subject with artists. A gold lacquer five-case inro, also by Koma Kansai, depicting a stag and doe grazing on a hillside on a moonlit evening is estimated to sell for £10,000–15,000. Further highlights of the collection of inro include a very rare black lacquer two-case inro by Koma Yasuaki with a netsuke by Ikkyu (est. £10,000–15,000), an unusual black lacquer six-case inro by Sakai Kyozan (est. £10,000–15,000) and a black lacquer three-case inro by Ogawa Haritsu (est. £8,000–10,000).

In addition to the exquisite collection of inro, netsuke and sword fittings, other Japanese works of art in the sale feature a selection of kiseruzutsu (pipe cases). A rare lacquer kiseruzutsu by Shirayama Shosai, one of the most important lacquer artists of the early 20th century, is estimated to sell for £7,500–8,500. Shosai's works of art are as highly sought after as those of the celebrated Shibata Zeshin but they are much rarer. Other highlights include a pale wood kiseruzutsu with tabako-ire (pipe case with tobacco pouch) by Toshiyama Soko (est. £3,500-4,000) and a brown lacquer kiserzutsu by Bokuboku, depicting the Chinese poet Tu fu (Japanese: Toba) riding on his mule in a mountainous landscape (est. £2,000-2,500).

Suzannah Yip, head of Bonham's Japanese department, comments: "The collection has not only been breathtaking in quantity but also in quality, material and subject matter. It is simply one of the most comprehensive and finest single-owner collections of inro ever to have been offered at auction."

Neil Davey, senior consultant for the Japanese department, comments: "I have known Ted Wrangham since I started in the Japanese art business in the late 1950s, when I was unofficially apprenticed to his uncle, William Wilberforce Winkworth. At that time, he was already an established serious collector and, as I came to know him better, I realised that he was one of the most scholarly collectors of his time. I feel proud to have known him and am honoured to have the opportunity of helping to disperse, as he would have wished, his collection to other, like-minded collectors."

    • An inro (literally meaning sealed case) is a traditional Japanese case consisting of a stack of small, nested boxes that were used to carry small objects such as seals, tobacco and medicines; the netsuke is a small carving in wood or ivory that keeps the inro securely fastened to the waistband. Japanese men wore traditional kimono and the inro were worn suspended from the sash. After humble beginnings as functional items, between the 17th-19th centuries inro and netsuke were developed by some of Japan's finest craftsmen into miniature works of art.
Contacts
  1. Neil Davey
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8288
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5840
  2. Suzannah Yip
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8368
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5840
Related auctions