A Japanese export lacquer clam-shaped incense container, 19th Century,

Gold, silver and aokin flat makie with cut-gold foil replicate the clam’s texture on the lid. The body has a gold ground, while the interior and base have a pear-skin ground.

On the protuberance of the shell’s joint is a motif resembling chrysanthemum petals, which have worn down through use. Under the cover is an almost illegible, encoded inscription in ink.

The 1835 Burghley Inventory records: ‘Japan Closet, Japan in the Glass case opposite the door(s), sic, A Shell shaped Box Gold Japan.’ 11.8cm by 8.9cm by 4.6cm.

The box was exhibited in the 2008 exhibition: ‘Export Lacquer: Reflection of the West in Black & Gold Makie’ at Kyoto Museum & the Suntory Museum, Tokyo.


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