Japan, 19th century, Edo period (1615-1868)
The wide-bodied, single-case inro of horizontal rectangular form and oval section, bearing a superbly polished, lustrous roiro ground, finely lacquered in thick red and gold takamaki-e with five dragonflies, the thick lacquer pooling attractively and spilling over the edges. The eyes inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl, the wings and legs detailed with gold hiramaki-e. The interior cases of red lacquer with gold fundame rims.
HEIGHT 5.1 cm, LENGTH 9.3 cm
Condition: Very good condition with minor wear to lacquer along the edges and some minor rubbing to the high points. Tiny chip to the edge of one of the cord holes.
Provenance: Glendining and Co., 15 December 1947. A noted private collection, assembled by the previous owner’s great-grandfather and thence by descent. With an old collection label to the interior of the top case.
The Koami family is one of the most famous dynasty of lacquerers, founded according to tradition by Docho. The family worked extensively for the court and the shogunate until well into the 19th century and had a considerable influence on the development of lacquer art through its leadership of the teams of craftsmen that worked on important shrines and palaces and other national projects. The family is also credited with having created the technique and style known as kodaijimaki-e. The shapes, subjects, and techniques of Koami inro are so varied that no family style can be identified.
A closely related lacquered inro with dragonflies by Koami Nagataka is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET), New York, accession no. 13.67.23.
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