wood lacquered in nashiji and togidashi-e; shibayama, silver, ivory
23 x 10.5 x 23 cm
A cabinet of drawers comprising a pair of doors hinged at the sides, which open to reveal four drawers decreasing in height towards the top, as well as another drawer at the bottom. The exterior of the cabinet portrays various groups of cockerels, hens, and chicks, some pecking at the ground. Those on the front carried out in Shibayama-style encrustations predominantly of shell and coloured ivory, with kirikane, those elsewhere of gold, silver, black and red togidahie, all on a nashiji ground. The insides of the doors also depict a cockerel, hen, and chicks, while the fronts of the drawers are decorated with a profusion of different types of feathers, the details of the latter extending over the confines of the drawers and frame, all in polychrome togidashie on a black lacquer ground with muranashiji. The main cabinet door-handle and knob in the form of a cockerel and chrysanthemum in shibuichi, gold, and silver, the remaining fittings all of silver, carved with flowers and in openwork. The doors edged with silver and the insides of the drawers of nashiji.
A similarly decorated cabinet in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in Earle (ed.), The Toshiba Gallery, No. 190, is signed Shinryo (not Shinso), Shinsei and Ozeki. Shinryo Ekisei is known to have won a prize for a decorative panel exhibited by the commissioner Ozeki Yahei at the National Industrial Exposition of 1877. He is also recorded in Tokyo-fu Kangyoka, Tokyo meikokan (1879), as having produced an object exhibited by Shibayama Senzo, who may have been associated with both this and the V&A cabinet.
O. Impey, M. Fairley, J. Earle (eds.), Meiji No Takara: Treasures Of Imperial Japan: Lacquer Vol II, London 1995, cat. 195.
J. Earle, Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji period from the Khalili Collection, London 2002, cat. 155, p. 230.