03/01/2019 News and Film
For nearly a generation, the market for Japanese works has been quiet, with a few dedicated dealers and collectors actively seeking out fine and rare examples of ceramics, lacquers, cloisonné, bronzes and works of art. Part of this may be due to the overwhelming international attention which has been paid to the booming market in Chinese works of art, due primarily to the meteoric growth in the interest and buying power of Chinese collectors, who tend to bypass Japanese works.
This has led in the past years to a buyer's market; however, there are indications that renewed interest is on the rise, with prices for fine Japanese pieces beginning to climb and dedicated stand-alone Japanese auctions re-appearing.
Freeman's has been fortunate to assemble an exceptional group of Japanese fine and decorative arts from private Pennsylvania and New Jersey collections for the March 12 auction. From a New Jersey collection comes a group of Shinhanga color woodblock prints, including works by Hiroshi Yoshida and Kawase Hasui. These 20th century works combine the technical skills of traditional color woodblock printing with an evocative modern sense of color and mood, such as in Hasui's "Sakuradamon at Night" (lot 556).
This range of color and line are echoed by a particularly fine group of Meiji and Taisho period cloisonné vases from the collection of Duane Lease. The quality of these works is particularly high, often with fine cloisons, sometimes utilizing silver or gold wires, and a wide range of colored enamels. While often unsigned, such as the pair of "Chrysanthemums, Aster and Sparrows" cabinet vases (lot 596) and the "Butterflies" vase (lot 594), many of these are obviously the work of master artisans, and as more research on this golden age of cloisonné is conducted, the individual hand of each master and workshop will undoubtedly be discerned. Other fine Japanese works from Lease's collection include a charming patinated bronze sculpture signed Miyao (lot 586), Satsuma-type enameled wares, and Zushi shrines.
From another complementary Pennsylvania private collection come a group of well-executed mixed metal vases. From another owner come an impressive mixed-metal inlaid bronze vase, Meiji period, with exquisite inlays and chasing (lot 583). These are joined by a group of Edo period porcelains of Kakiemon palate, Arita porcelains, including a rare Arita landscape-decorated jar, 17th century (lot 502), additional Satsuma-type wares, including works from the Kinkozan workshops, Nabeshima and Hirado-type porcelains, and studio porcelains by Makuzu Kozan. The elegance of these wares is echoed by lacquers of the Edo and Meiji period. Of particular note is a small writing table, decorated with Phoenix and paulownia (lot 561).