• Japan, 19th century
  • Lacquer, gold and silver 
  • Inv. 1350

Writing box

This writing box, or suzuribako, contains a removable tray with an inkstone, a small container for water and a water-dropper. The lid is decorated with two screens and a clothes-rack with several male accessories, including an inrō, a tobacco pouch, a pipe and the respective case.

The two leaves of one screen are decorated with an owl perched on a branch of a Japanese cypress tree. The other screen with feet shows an eagle with its wings open and tied to a perch. The very varied techniques used to decorate this piece are generically called makie (sprinkled picture) and involve creating drawings by sprinkling metal or coloured powders onto a surface of fresh lacquer.

Sir Trevor Lawrence Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through B. Coureau, at the sale of the Sir Trevor Lawrence Collection, Christie's, London, 6 November 1916 (lot 324).

H. 24 cm; W. 22 cm; D. 4,3 cm 

Lisbon 2001 (a)

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, pp. 80–1, cat. 59.

Lisboa 2001 (b)

Pedro Moura Carvalho (coord.), The World of Lacquer. 2000 Years of History, exhibition catalogue. Lisbon: Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, 2001, p. 96, cat. 47.

Updated on 22 april 2022

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