Japanese Works of Art

The arts and antiques of Japan have been collected in the West ever since the country reopened its doors to trade with foreigners in the 1853. 

Japanese art spans early wood sculpture dating back to the Momoyama period and prized early porcelain from the Nabeshima or Kakiemon kilns. However many of the collectable categories of Japanese art date from the Meiji period (1868-1912) such as miniatures like netsuke and inro, metalwares, bronze sculptures, armour, swords and sword fittings such as tsuba.


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Pair of Edo iron and bronze vases at Kevin Page

27 September 2017

The collection of Japanese and Chinese works of art at Eaton Neston near Towcester was formed largely by Thomas George Fermor-Hesketh (1849-1924).

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Japanese screen reveals demand

11 September 2017

The slow, but observable, return of competition for fine Japanese works of art was evident at Hannam’s (20% buyer’s premium) of Selborne on August 23 in the form of this large Meiji ivory scholar’s table screen, below.

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Tiger displays bite as Kent tartanware checks in

10 July 2017

One of the earliest examples of the lucrative tartan tourism, which dates back to George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822 and was turbo-charged by Queen Victoria’s love of the Highlands, were the sycamore boxes and trinkets made in small factories in the little Ayrshire town of Mauchline.

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Asian art Japanese: Tomatada shines in Katchen collection

05 June 2017

The centrepiece of Bonhams’ Japanese offering on May 11 was the second part of the extraordinary collection of netsuke formed by US concert pianist Julius Katchen (1926-69) and his wife Arlette.

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Meiji incense burner is €12,000 (£10,435) Dusseldorf auction buy

10 April 2017

Numerous bidders competed for a5½in (14cm) high Japanese incense burner from the Meiji period (1868-1912) at a sale held by Hargesheimer (25% buyer’s premium) in Dusseldorf on March 10-11.

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Krugier name adds to appeal of £55,000 Hokusai drawing

01 April 2017

This Japanese rice paper drawing was among a number of lots to draw strong bidding at Dreweatts and Bloomsbury’s (24% buyer’s premium) offering of the Jan Krugier collection.

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Chiswick sees eastern promise

01 April 2017

As evidenced by prices recently recorded on these pages for Meiji and earlier material, collectors and dealers have been ahead of the City analysts currently looking at the revival of the Japanese stock exchange.

Meiji period netsuke of a rat

The rat awakens – Netsuke estimated at £200-300 sparks bidding war and sells at £28,500

22 July 2016

This tiny ivory netsuke of a rat was the major suprise of a recent auction in the Cotswolds.

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Sweet scent for best of 18th century France

02 May 2015

Briefly owned by Louis XVI, who intended them for the Louvre, this 13in (33.5cm) high pair of fine gilt-bronze-mounted kakiemon porcelain and Egyptian porphyry brûle parfums sold for £1.65m at Sotheby’s in London this week.

Netsuke bonanza at Cologne saleroom

12 May 2014

In a series of sales to be spread over the coming years, Cologne auctioneers Lempertz are selling netsuke from the Kolodotschko collection.

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Stolen antiques now safe after ATG alert

31 March 2014

A Derby porcelain plaque and two Japanese plates have been returned by Surrey Police to two stately homes after they were recognised from an alert in Antiques Trade Gazette

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Rediscovered Japanese coffer sells to Rijksmuseum at £5m

09 July 2013

An exceptional piece of 17th century Japanese export lacquer with a provenance to match has produced the highest auction price in France this year when it was sold to the Rijksmuseum for a hammer price of €5.9m (£5.26m).

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Tiny Japanese ivory takes £13,000

11 March 2013

This 1½in (3.5cm) Japanese ivory okimono stole the show at Tamylns’ in Bridgwater, Somerset when it sold to a telephone bidder for £13,000.

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Tokyo treasure at £25,000

30 July 2012

This intricate ivory okimono group from c.1880 took £25,000 at the most recent sale held by Nicholson’s of Fernhurst.

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Netsuke collection goes to Liverpool

17 November 2008

Liverpool World Museum’s Japanese holdings have been given a significant boost by the donation of 128 netsuke. The gift represents around half the collection of the late Jonas G Gadelius donated by his widow Gabita.

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$12.8m for a Kamakura Buddha with X-ray vision

25 March 2008

The highlight of the Asia week series of auctions put on by the major salerooms was an impressive early Japanese wood sculpture of Buddha. It set a new auction high for a Japanese work of art when it was hammered down to the Japanese company Mitsukoshi Co Ltd for $12.8m (£6.7m) plus premium in Christie’s sale of Japanese and Korean art on March 18.

Fraudster poses as buyer to get away with auction find

10 March 2008

A FRAUDSTER has tricked a US auction house into handing over a valuable Japanese artwork by posing as the representative of the buyer, an English dealer. It is thought they targeted the piece after realising that it was worth a great deal more than it sold for.

Bonhams welcome Sotheby’s Japanese specialists

02 July 2007

Bonhams are to take advantage of Sotheby’s decision to end Japanese sales by recruiting their top specialist and consultant.

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A good luck charm brings £41,000

06 March 2006

It was catalogued simply as “a carved and signed ivory netsuke modeled as a dragon” and estimated at just £200-300, but this 11/2in (4.5cm) netsuke shot to £41,000 (plus 15 per cent premium) at Paul Beighton of Thurcroft, near Rotherham on February 26. Why? The reason was twofold.

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Japanese specialist takes koro at £14,000

13 April 2005

Dreweatt Neate (Buyer's premium: 17.5 per cent)SOMETIMES one could be forgiven for thinking that the words ‘Oriental work of art sleeper’, as, for instance, ‘English middle order collapse’ don’t require spaces between them and that, German-style, they are all one word.

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