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Large covered vessel (kazaritsubo), part of a pair

Large covered vessel (kazaritsubo), part of a pair

H : 149 cm ; Diameter : 64 cm
M.C. 3725-3726

It is difficult to determine the origins of these vessels, ordered by the German trade company Arhens & Cie. This company first had its headquarters in the Tsukiji neighbourhood of the port of Tōkyō and, in addition to stores at number 29 then number 10 in Yokohama beginning in 1869, also opened a branch in Kōbe. In the late 1870’s, Arhens placed orders for ceramics with artists living in Tōkyō and Seto; the ceramist who created the vessels in the Cernuschi collection came from Seto.

The descendants of the Fukugawa family, from Arita, recently still thought that these vessels came from the factory that bears their name, but several clues contradict this theory. The large vessels produced in Arita in the late 19th century have always had a slender shape and rather bare shoulder, unlike the two vessels in the Cernuschi Museum, which have a “baluster vessel” shape. This difference stems from the use, in Arita, of a more pure, and therefore more fusible, kaolin than the clay used in Seto, which was a mixture of laonin and local clay. The Seto material better supported high temperatures and was better adapted for the production of this type of shape. A second argument in favour of Seto origins is the very vivid blue shade, characteristic of this centre. Finally, the decorative repertoire is particular to Seto potters.

The ceramist in this region who worked the most for the Arhens company, using the mark of the number 41 address in Tsukiji in a hat, is incontrovertibly Kawamoto Hansuke VI (1844 – 1905). However, Hansuke affixes his own mark next to the company’s mark on the pieces he created for Arhens, and it’s unclear why these vessels would be an exception to the rule. Most importantly, it seems unlikely that he ever created such large pieces. On the other hand, Mokuzaemon specialised in large pieces. However, the very large vessels created in Seto by Katō Mokuzaemon (1832-1900) included several assembled parts. Those kept in the Ceramics Museum of Seto show that the neck was fired separately and assembled after firing. It is not absolutely certain that Katō Mokuzaemon created these vessels, but it is more probable, as long as this production was not part of a collaboration.

It does not seem as if these vessels were brought back from Japan by Henri Cernuschi; they appear in photographs of the hotel that the Durandell photography workshop created for the financier in 1870s or 1880 at the latest. The Arhens company was apparently well connected to the Parisian dealer Siegfried Bing (1838-1905), and perhaps these vessels were exported from Japan to France through him.

Auteur de la notice : Michel Maucuer
Collection : Japanese decorative arts
Marques Inscriptions Poinçons : Mark inside the lid: "A-rensu-sha Tsukiji yonjûichi" [Cie Arhens, Tsukiji, number 41]
Mode d'acquisition : Bequest of Henri Cernuschi, 1896.
  • Grand vase kazaritsubo

Grand vase kazaritsubo
© Musée Cernuschi