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 bowl 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.
Decorated in underglaze blue, iron red, colored enamels and gilt, the interior of this gorgeous bowl features four shaped panels of a gilded hare (traditionally a symbol of spring) jumping over a fence and two panels of a flowering tree combined with flowering water plants. In the center is a large oval scalloped panel featuring a two-handled jardinière filled with more flowers. There are four narrow panels of traditional geometric motifs separating the larger panels. This foliate bowl is nicely scalloped and edged in gilding.
On the outside there is a continuous large floral and leaf design. But due to the outward flare of the bowl, this design is not prominent. The flowers depicted are all traditional Japanese, such as peonies and chrysanthemums.
The condition of this 19th century bowl is excellent. The colors are still vibrant and the gilding in the hares, flowers and water is luminous. However, there is some gilding loss to the very edge of the bowl as might be expected from being handled over the years.
It measures 12 inches by 10-1/4 inches. The height is 3-1/8 inches.
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