In a month where we literally said goodbye to May, the month of May featured the bi-annual series of Asian art sales and exhibitions in London, a very busy period for the big auction houses, and an opportunity for the smaller galleries to sell to a captive audience, not least the Chinese buyers, not my market but you cannot help but be involved when visiting the various venues, there were one or two stand out results. A Quinlong period three colour lacquer throne reputedly made for the Emperor himself, sold for 5.2 million in London. Whilst a modern Chinese painting realised 2.3 million in the provinces, there were multiple other 6 figure sales.
By contrast amongst the stand out sales of the Japanese Meiji period wares were a Lacquer panel at a more modest £450,000 by the Imperial painter and lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin and an 18th century box wood Toad Netsuke at £42,000 by Aki Provence carver Mitani.
This really does reinforce for me how lucky we are to be able to buy, sell and collect high quality Meiji period items that by todays market standards seem ridiculously undervalued, Indeed it is very unusual to find Japanese metalwork, ceramics and lacquer wares with prices in excess of £150,000, of course there are exceptions and these exceptions are highly coveted and often extremely rare pieces. Usually made by one of the Emperor Meiji’s small group of Imperial artists, artists such as Shibata Zeshin mentioned above, Shoami Katsuyoshi who excelled at metalwork, and more commonly of late Cloisonné enamels by Namikawa Yasayuki the master enamellist of the early 20th century.
Indeed many if not most of the high six figure priced pieces are known, recorded and sit in the worlds greatest collections or museums. They can generally be traced when they appear on the market, there are always exceptions however and each waking day I strive to unearth another Meiji period masterpiece.
Thankfully the art world is slowly waking up to the fact that Japanese works of art from the Meiji period are amongst the greatest artworks ever created, with Chinese buyers tentatively entering the market, many European museums now hosting exhibitions on this period, as well as Japanese museums in the major cities dedicating entire galleries to a period they had previously cast aside as “modern.” It can only be a matter of time until the penny finally drops, until that day we are privileged to be able to afford to buy, collect and cherish these masterpieces.
In last months newsletter I featured this fantastic large Bear Okimono by Genryusai Seiya, I am delighted to say he has now found a new home in an extensive UK based Japanese art collection that we are helping to develop.
We have multiple market fresh pieces to list in the coming days including a mixed metal panel on stand, a damascened Iron charger and further Cloisonné wares all from the USA, as well as other interesting pieces from Europe.
In this months members area we feature this large and imposing parcel gilded Bronze Samurai Okimono on Gold lacquer decorated stand by the leading artist Miyao Eisuke.