Image series 08 / 2024: Urushi

Japanese Lacquer Art

18 February 2024 | By: Bettina Pfleging

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Japanese lacquer is produced in a complex process from the sap of the East Asian lacquer tree. The raw lacquer is initially cloudy, then clear and very light to dark yellow after hardening through polymerisation. Coloured urushi is then applied in numerous layers, traditionally pigmented red or black. The beginnings of this processing technique can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. In the 6th century, the traditional Japanese craft of Japanese lacquer art reached a very high artistic level and for many centuries was reserved as a luxury item for the imperial family and the nobility.
One chapter of the exhibition is dedicated to the materials used in Japanese arts and crafts. Examples of objects made of ceramics, lacquer, bronze and bamboo are presented.

„Inspiring Japan. The Walter Gebhard Collection“
26 November 2023 until 20 May 2024, Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg


Lackdose mit Weintrauben-Dekor, 1573 –1603, Lack, maki-e, raden, D 11,3 x H 9 cm, Tôkeiji; HeidICON – Ostasienwissenschaften, Ruprecht-Karl-Universität Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek


Lacktruhe mit Pfeifendekor, 1573 –1603, Lack, maki-e, B 19,5 x T 29,9 x H 20,8 cm, Kyôto; HeidICON – Ostasienwissenschaften, Ruprecht-Karl-Universität Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek


Pulverflasche mit Namban-Motiv, 1580-1850, Lack, 45,5 × 29,1 cm, Tokio; HeidICON – Ostasienwissenschaften, Ruprecht-Karl-Universität Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek


Ogata Kōrin. Letter Box, 1700s, lacquer with pewter and mother-of-pearl inlay, 24,2 × 21,6 cm, Cleveland; The Cleveland Museum of Art


Tea bowl with flames, 1775 – 1825, stonewareglazevitrification, H 10,2 x D 9,1 cm, Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum Collection, Amsterdam


Boîte, Ausschnitt, from 1789 until 1914, black lacquermetal, wood, silvery, 133 × 96 mm, Paris; RMN Musée d’Orsay, Réunion des musées nationaux


Kubota Shunman. A Lacquer Bowl, Ausschnitt, 1815 – 1820, 197 × 167 mm, color woodcut | polishing, Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum Collection, Amsterdam


Ryūryūkyo Shinsai. Lacquer Box for Clothes, Ausschnitt, 19th century, ink and color on paper, 14,3 × 19,1 cm, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art