Antique Circa 1800 Japanese Maki-e Lacquer Panels Edo Period
This pair of late 18th, early 19th century rectangular panels have been framed and glazed in a contemporary ebonized frame of quatrefoil design with inner gilt slip. PLEASE excuse any reflections on the glass. Each visible 6.75" by 2.5" narrow panel has completely different depictions. Both inner cartouche depict raised relief images (takamaki-e) of the red-crowned cranes (tanchozuru) in flight. Each individual crane is so fabulously animated and so fabulously decorated, all chasing, fighting and vying with each other. Of course Cranes are an ancient auspicious symbol that are considered a national treasure in Japan. They have been long associated with happiness , well being, fidelity and longevity; as the Crane has been thought to live for a thousand years. We see the male cranes that are decorated in actual applied gold leaf with their red hiramki-e lacquered caps. The females are not quite so vivid in their mat black but they are just as beautifully decorated with similar red hiramak-e crowns and very fine gold painted decoration on their feathers, legs and beaks. Both male and female cranes also have beautifully hand decorated necks. The black lacquer ground has nashiyi decoration of gold sprinkles over the surface. Each panel has a small white metal floral handle to its opposite corner. This metal fitting is very patinated and we wonder if it is actually silver underneath much age related grime and originally had a center loop for pulling open the fronts. The borders of each panel are delightful with their coordinating grey and gold leaf motifs with inner gilded cartouche edge.
The outer frame measures 9" by 7.5" and is later backed with a modern plywood replacement backing board with no suspension hook.
Condition - There is deterioration to the gold leaf on two of the male crane's wing feathers. This has been touched up in the past with gold paint. The gold foil is also flaking or wrinkling on some of the decorative border motifs. Probably due to English damp weather in the distant past, we wonder if this could be stabilized by a professional ( also the gold leaf restored). However, these panels are behind glass and so further destabilization in modern heated homes should not be a worry.
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