Writing Box (Suzuri-bako)Artist(s)Ogata KôrinObject Creation Date1661-1716Medium & Supportblack and gold lacquer on woodDimensions
1 3/4 in x 9 1/16 in (4.5 cm x 23 cm)Credit LineGift of the Baroness Maud Ledyard von KettelerLabel copy
Gallery Rotations Fall 2012
Writing box (Suzuri-bako)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Black lacquered wood with gold, abalone shells, silver, and corroded lead strips
Gift of the Baroness Maud Ledyard
von Ketteler, 1942.7
This elegant writing box, which originally came with a paperknife, a water-dropper, and a stone for grinding the ink, was made at the pinnacle of Japan’s production of lacquer ware. Against a black background, poetic motifs are formed out of abalone shells, gold, silver, and corroded lead. In this autumnal scene, the lone gate, moon, tree, and thatched fence create a rustic feeling. The interior of the box, however, is lavishly decorated with wild autumn flowers (Patrinia scabiosaefoliais) using the laborious maki-e (“sprinkled picture”) technique. This playful contrast is one of the characteristics of decorative art made during the Edo period.
The design of this box is attributed to Ogata Kôrin, who with his younger brother Kenzan (1663–1743) revived a painting style originated a half-century earlier by Tawaraya Sôtatsu (died circa 1643) and Hon’ami Kôetsu (1558–1637). The two brothers grew up in a wealthy merchant family in Kyoto, honing their artistic sensibilities in a circle of elite cultural connoisseurs that included their father. Their painting style, later named the Rimpa School,
is known for its sophisticated designs and ostentatious use of gold, silver, and colors.Subject matter
An autumnal scene of a lone gate with tree, thatched fence and the moon. Interior of the box is decorated with wild autumn flowers done using the laborious maki-e technique.Physical Description
An elegant writing box, which originally came with a paperknife, a water-dropper, and a stone for grinding the ink. Black laquer with poetic motifs formed out of abalone shells, gold, silver and corroded lead.Primary Object Classification Decorative Arts Primary Object TypelacquerAdditional Object Classification(s)Wood and WoodcarvingCollection AreaAsianRights
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