The ALTFIELD GALLERY is proud to present Japanese Decorative Arts from the Meiji Period, showcasing a remarkable selection of objects that were used for furnishing and ornamenting the interior setting. These pieces are objects of daily use with examples in a variety of materials including wood, lacquer, porcelain and textiles. The objects were prized for their form, function and overall decoration, reflecting the design sensibilities of this epoch as well as the timeless quality and restrained elegance of Japanese style.

The tansu is a form of mobile cabinetry and it is traditionally used for storing personal possessions, documents and clothing in households and businesses throughout Japan. These chests have a distinctive appearance and are constructed in richly grained wood and enhanced with detailed metalwork. On display is a selection of two piece tansu chests in paulownia wood, which is favoured for being lightweight. Of interest, a tansu with intricate iron and brass hardware, the circular roundels are intricately carved with a butterfly motif, a symbol of joy and longevity.

The hibachi is a portable heating device and it is designed as an open topped container; the interior is fitted with a copper casing in which ash and burning charcoal are held. We have assembled a fine collection of circular hibachis with examples in both lacquer and paulownia wood, which also come as a single piece or in pairs. These pieces demonstrate the sophisticated craftsmanship of the lacquer artists, featuring exquisite decoration in gold or coloured lacquer, mother of pearl inlay, or a combination of these techniques.

Imari porcelain is highly sought after for its striking designs, balanced composition and rich colours. It was produced primarily at kilns located around Arita for both the domestic and export consumption. These porcellaneous wares were decorated with a vibrant colour scheme of underglaze cobalt blue and often overglaze enamels, gold and reddish orange are popular colours, are added. We will showcase a small group of Imari tableware, including plates, shallow dishes, bowls and tea cups.

Japanese lacquer is renowned for the refinement of its wares, which are highly valued and extremely costly due to its labourious and time consuming production process. The thick, lustrous sheen of the lacquer and the lavish effects of maki-e, a uniquely Japanese development that involves applying sprinkled gold and silver powder onto lacquer, are characteristic of these pieces. We have assembled a large selection of lacquerwares, including stacked food boxes, document boxes, writing boxes, trays and raised stands. Of interest, a low table with a pair of deer in a landscape decorated with gold maki-e on a black lacquer ground.

Textile production in Japan is synonymous with the bright colours and striking designs of their sumptuously decorated silks and brocades. We have acquired a small group of silk obis, the long and narrow sash worn to accompany the kimono; it is tied at the waist and holds the outfit together. It can provide either a matching or contrasting focus with the kimono, to heighten the overall visual effect. With its classic design, the obi is also easily incorporated into a contemporary interior; its length makes it ideal as a runner or a wall hanging.