An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd  By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century

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Lot 190
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd
By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century

Sold for £ 125,062 (US$ 170,355) inc. premium
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd
By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century
Modelled as a decaying gourd with mottled dark-brown patination, supported on a base formed by an extremely long stem descending from the mouth, twining around the body and trailing to the ground where it sprouts three large vine leaves, a snake emerging from an opening on the reverse watching a tree frog making its escape at bottom left, other short curling tendrils draped across the front, details of the leaves executed in variegated flat-relief inlays of bronze, gold and shakudo, signed on the reverse with chiselled characters Dai Nihon Okayama Shoami sen (Chiselled by Shoami, Okayama in Great Japan). 33cm (13in) high.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Sold at auction in Dorset, England in 2011.
    Subsequently purchased for their collection by the present owners.

    One of the greatest metalworkers of the Meiji era, Katsuyoshi was born in Mimasaka Province (present-day Okayama Prefecture). He received his early training from his father Nakagawa Katsutsugu, but was adopted at age 18 by a local branch of the Shoami, a dynasty of sword-fitting makers active all over Japan, and went on to work for the Ikeda family in Bizen Province. Although he remained in his home district for most of his career, he developed his practice by studying with his older brother Nakagawa Issho, from whom he absorbed something of the style of Issho's teacher, the great Kyoto master Goto Ichijo. With the onset of the Meiji restoration (1867-8) and the Haitorei edict of 1876, which proscribed the traditional samurai privilege of wearing two swords, Katsuyoshi lost his traditional sources of patronage but soon became exceptionally successful at adapting his skills to new kinds of production including tea-ceremony utensils, flower vases such as this example, and incense burners, always in an individual, creative style that remained largely independent of metropolitan artistic convention.

    Despite his provincial location, Shoami Katsuyoshi exhibited frequently at major domestic and international expositions, garnering no fewer than 28 awards. His works are featured in several important collections of Meiji era art, including a silver incense-burner in the form of a caparisoned Buddhist elephant in the Khalili Collection, a large group in Kyoto's Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, and an iron hanging flower-vase in the British Museum (inv.no.1969,0210.1, as illustrated here) formed as a gourd entwined with vine, leaves, a bird, insects, and a snake in copper alloys with gold-inlaid details.
Contacts
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd  By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd  By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd  By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century
An exquisitely cast and inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd  By Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908), Meiji era (1868-1912), late 19th century
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