Collectors identify hand thrown Awaji pottery by the name of the Japanese island where it was made from 1831 to 1939. This substantial example has whimsical folded and applied 'ear' handles, the lower lobes pierced by long oval rolled rings that cling to the neck. The sunflowers and leaves are incised into a relief ground of built-up layers of clay, hand cut and applied, giving the piece a textured, dimensional surface. Cleverly hidden foot-rim.
Crafted of durable high fired clay, the pot wears the finely crackled Awaji glaze colors of brilliant green, cream and cobalt blue. The glassy surface of the piece has a faint iridescence. Age appropriate wear consisting of minor losses at the edges of some raised areas of the green ground, the most noticeable of these shown close-up, and a few small pecks that easily escape detection without close scrutiny. Free of cracks or other structural defects.
16.5 inches tall; top is 9 inches across at the handles, lower section is 10 inches across tapering to a 6 inch diameter base. Weighs a hefty 12 pounds.
Sunflowers not being a typical Japanese decorative motif for the period (ca 1920) it may be significant that early in 1921 a painting from Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers series, "Still Life: Vase with Five Sunflowers" arrived in Japan after it's purchase by the industrialist Koyata Yamamoto. Van Gogh's masterpiece was displayed to the public twice, once in Tokyo in 1921 and a second time in nearby Osaka in 1924, both times garnering much acclaim and publicity. Afterward it hung over a sofa in Yamamoto's private residence in Ashiya until its destruction by fire near the end of WWII.
As shown, "Still Life: Vase with Five Sunflowers" was a large painting of mature sunflowers in a green vase against a background of dark blue. The shape of this green Awaji vase seems to mimic what is visible of the shape of Van Gogh's green vase in the painting and his bold expansive background color is reflected in the glaze on the Awaji sunflower. Undoubtedly the potter who created this vase would have heard about the painting. He may even have traveled to view it while it was publicly displayed. It is also worth noting that Koyata Yamamoto's home in Ashiya was less than 70 miles from the kilns of Awaji Island.