Attributed to Chin Jukan XII (1835-1906), unsigned
Japan, second half of 19th century
The two-part kogo (incense box) finely modelled as a young boy with a large bag inscribed with the characters dai (great) and matsu (pine), holding a sweet potato in his hand. Beautifully decorated with polychrome enamels of red, blue, black, and gold.
LENGTH 8 cm
Condition: Very good condition, one tiny chip to the edge of the sweet potato.
Provenance: Collection of Louis Lawrence, author of Hirado: Prince of Porcelains (Chicago 1997, part of the Encyclopedia of Japanese Art Series).
Sweet potatoes are often referred to as “Satsuma Imo” in Japan as the province is traditionally the center of production. There are many stories of boys raiding the fields to pick these sweet delights to eat them. The representation of this kogo is very unusual.
Chin Jukan XII (1835-1906) was a highly skilled potter and an innovative entrepreneur. His work was first displayed to the West at the 1867 exposition in Paris where it was internationally acclaimed. The resulting success was the catalyst that inspired the Japanese export trade to blossom with overglaze decorated ceramics that became known as Satsuma ware being created in many regions of the country. Few potters or decorators were able to achieve the quality of workmanship attained by Chin Jukan XII. Interestingly the renowned Osaka based decorator, Yabu Meizan, ordered all his blanks from Chin Jukan rather than create them himself.
A very similar model is in the collection of the British Museum, accession no. Franks.2052.
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