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This volume covers Japanese cloisonne enamels which were a technical triumph of the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-26) periods. The 107 examples in the Khalili Collection offer a panorama of the achievement centred around the work of three artists: Namikawa Yasuyuki, Namikawa Sosuke, and Ando Jubei. In assembling this group of pieces the emphasis has been on work of the highest quality and there are many superb examples made for exhibition in Japan, Europe, and the United States, or for presentation by the Imperial family to Japanese and foreign dignitaries. The collection includes a large number of works by each of the three leading artists, making it possible to establish a reliable chronology for the development of enamelling in Japan, firmly based on extensive documentary research as well as on the internal evidence of the pieces. In their introductory essay the authors trace the brief history of the craft from the first experiments of Kaji Tsunekichi in the 1840s and '50s, based on Chinese models, and identify three strands of stylistic evolution that took place from the 1860s: the conservative, the pictorial, and the exotic. The conservative Yasuyuki continued to treat the wires separating the different areas of colour as an integral part of the design, while the more pictorial Sosuke, in his late works, almost dispensed with them altogether to create works which are really a variety of painted enamel. An essay by the great British scholar Jack Hillier, one of his last publications, traces the relationship between Sosuke and the painter Watanabe Seitei. The volume, combining magnificent colour reproduction with pioneering scholarship, will serve as a guide to a little-known facet of Japan's artistic achievement.
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