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Lacquer Named Kabuki Actor Portrait Box, Daihachi Role

Lacquer Named Kabuki Actor Portrait Box, Daihachi Role

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Lacquer: Pre 1920: Item # 1145959
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Frederick, MD, 21701

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A Japanese lacquer bowed top box with portrait of a Kabuki actor - presumably named in gold lacquer and the role of Daihachi named in a lustrous iron color. All slightly raised work, the portrait is in gray, black, red, flesh tone, browns and gold. Lines including pattern and folds in the figure's attire and hair in his coiffure and sideburns cleanly defined with raised work. Metal along the facing edges of the top and bottom have no doubt contributed nicely to the preservation of the box. Actor portraits being not uncommon in woodblock prints, we have only found one example in lacquer - an important inro sold by Bonhams in May 2011. The present box is not signed and does not enjoy the colorful provenance of the Bonhams' inro. The condition of this box is fair with small losses on corners and edges (see our illustrations), light surface wear and need of a cleaning. The top has a very slight warp mostly along the length so that the facing metal edges do not rest entirely flush on one side (otherwise would not be noticed and probably not surprising with a little shrinkage over time.) There is no wrinkling, no blisters, no peeling at all to the lacquer (solid work.) This should touch up and clean up nicely in the hands of a qualified lacquer conservationist. It was difficult to capture the raised work in our photographs. Our last enlargements are taken close and under direct halogen light at angles that distort the composition and exaggerate wear but which highlight the raised work. Length, 6 inches (15.24 cm), Width 3 3/8 inches (8.57 cm), Height 1 1/2 inches (3.81 cm). Late Meiji, possibly early Taisho.