Imari Vase with Cover

Japan, Arita, Edo period, circa 1700

Porcelain, richly decorated in underglaze blue and the overglaze colours iron-red, black and gold.

Height: 64 cm (25.2 inch) Ref No: 1457

A Japanese Edo Period (late 17th century) Imari Vase and cover, porcelain painted in the Imari palette of underglaze blue with overglaze iron-red and details in gold, decoration with irises, peonies and chrysanthemums, the finial in a form of karashishi holding a brocade ball.

Imari is a general name, usually applied in the West to a particular type of enamelled decoration, but some Japanese authors use ko-Imari to indicate the entire assortment of (old) Arita wares, enamelled as well as underglaze blue. The name is derived from the port of Imari near Arita, from where porcelain was shipped north for domestic distribution or to Nagasaki for export.

The name ”Imari” is therefore used here to indicate a polychrome ware, which developed fully in the last quarter of the 17th century. It is characterised by a rather complex and full enamelled decoration, frequently in combination with underglaze blue, which uses the entire surface. Japanese painters combined traditionel, often Chinese-based motifs in their own way. The exuberance of the scenes is characteristic: flowers, shishi and phoenixes have a voluptuousness altogether lacking on Chinese wares.