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 piece 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.
As an island nation, it is no wonder that fish have long been used as cultural symbols. They are often used so show happiness, well-being and freedom, although this just scratches the surface as to what they can mean.
This dish is painted in typical colors showing the naturalistic details of the scales in overglaze red and gold with fins in underglaze blue and gold with touches of red.
A scholar in green and red enamel appears running through the fins of the fish. The dish shows the traditional peony and other Japanese flowers decorating the white panels.
On the back are large blue dots interspersed with Japanese scrolling motifs in between. On the very bottom of the dish are six blue calligraphy marks under the glaze.
This piece is in excellent condition.
It measures 11-3/8 from head to tail. From end of scale to end of scale (top to bottom) it measures about 8 inches.
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