Imari porcelain originated in the early-17th century in the southern Japanese town of Arita. It is primarily known for its stylized depictions of bamboo, flowers, and geometric designs in blue and white at first, and then later in orange, blue, red and sometimes green. The ware was manufactured specifically for the European export trade near the Japanese port of Imari in the town of Arita, on an island in the south of the country. Today the town hosts an annual week-long ceramics fair that draws a million visitors.
As can be said of most finely painted porcelain pieces, the beauty depends upon the talent of the artist as a designer, the skill of the artist as the executioner of his design, and lastly but most important, the artist’s ability to harmoniously blend all of the elements required in a fine painting. This beautiful jardiniere was obviously done by an experienced and creative Imari artist who knew his art well and also had exceptional talent.
Imari was wildly popular from the 17th century until the mid-18th in Europe until Chinese--followed by European--potters began creating their own versions of this pottery. By the last half of the 19th century, however, there occurred a great resurgence in interest in all things Japanese, including Imari, especially after the world Expositions in Paris, Philadelphia and Chicago that took place between 1867 and 1893. This heightened interest by the West was given the name, “Japonism,” by a contemporary artist, and took place in the midst of great societal changes in Japan. The Meiji period dates from 1868 until 1912, when the emperor of that name died.
At 18 inches in diameter, this is an impressive charger. It weighs 7 pounds, including the old metal hanger on the back. It also happens to be one of the most decorative Meiji Imari chargers I have found in a very long time. The fine hand enameling is carried out throughout this porcelain piece. The various motifs, strong Imari colors and overall design all fight for one’s attention. The inside large circle encloses a wonderfully decorative vase of exuberant blooms that cascade down to near the floor. There are enough blues, oranges and even pinks to satisfy anyone’s Imari palette.
Circling around the central motif are small segments filled with storks, flowers, leaves and tree boughs in dark, rich cobalt blue bursting with gold-veined leaves. Adding to this fantasy of color and form are geometrically-based panels interspersed between the birds and flowers that anchor the design to the central, larger motif. And just when you think the artist could not add anything more, he interspersed floating circles filled with Japanese symbols and flowers. The artist used a striking jade green color to several of these circular panels, adding to the sumptuousness and richness of this charger. The scalloped edge was beautifully finished in cobalt blue enamel.
This is the kind of Imari work that mesmerizes and delights the more one views it. Not only is it large and colorful, but it also is extremely decorative. Even the back was decorated so as to create a very finished piece.
The condition is excellent, especially for its age, type and large size. As this is a 19th century piece, the wrought iron hanger was no doubt attached early on.
This piece has been hanging on a wall, which helps explain its fabulous condition. There is no wear to the enameling. There is one teeny manufacturing fault in one of the circles (see photo); however, unless very closely inspected it is difficult to spot. The thick glaze that was originally applied has protected it well over the years.
I can’t imagine a finer piece of Japanese Imari hanging in any room that could bring such color and excitement into one’s decorating scheme.
Large 19th Century Meiji Period Japanese Imari Charger
$495 $595 SALE