AN EXTREMELY RARE JAPANESE GLASS TELESCOPE WITH LACQUERED LEATHER CASE

Edo period, late 18th/early 19th century

The telescope is decorated in various colours and gilt with flowers, foliage and geometric designs over and beneath the glass that is finely wheel-engraved, the glass sections separated by silverwork and copper rims, the cylindrical case of lacquered leather and paper is impressed with European style ornaments and applied with gold and lacquer.

Length of telescope: 56.7 cm

Length of case: 68.3 cm

 

Literature:
Suntory Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue Japanese glass: Stylish vessels, playful shapes, Tokyo, 2010, no. 18 (ill.)

Exhibitions:

Suntory Museum of Art, Japanese glass: Stylish vessels, playful shapes, 27 March - 23 May 2010

Note:

It is believed that the telescope was first imported to Japan as a gift from King James I (1566-1625) in 1613 to the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) who made well use of his telescope during his battles. Since then many of the country rulers asked the representatives of the Dutch East India Company on Dechima for telescopes as tributes. Sometime after the seclusion policy was executed in 1641, the making of telescopes started in Japan, mainly in Nagasaki where the Dutch had their factory on the island of Deshima. The best-known opticians during the Edo Period were Mori Nizaemon (1673-1754) of Nagasaki and Iwahashi Zenbei (1756-1811) of Osaka.

 

AN EXTREMELY RARE JAPANESE GLASS TELESCOPE WITH LACQUERED STAND

Edo Period, late 18th/early 19th century

The telescope decorated in various colours with birds and sprays of flowers painted over glass that is finely wheel-cut engraved, the glass sections and copper rims separated by lacquered wood, the stand lacquered wood, with original wood box with inscription Otoomegane (telescope) and the name of the previous owner Mr. Nakata.

Length of telescope: 15.3 cm

Length of stand: 16.2 cm

Note:

A similar, larger, telescope, previously in the collection of Ikenaga Hajime, is now housed in the Kobe Museum.

A RARE LARGE JAPANESE LACQUERED LEATHER TELESCOPE

 

Edo Period, late 18th century

In four sections, the smaller innermost end fitted with a cow horn disc pierced with a central hole to maximise the use of the centre of the lens and the largest, outermost section finished with a copper disk with a central hole, all four sections of lacquered leather embossed and applied with gold lacquer on a black ground with bands of European style patterns including flowers, scrolling foliage and geometric designs, two covers for both ends.

L. 32 cm (retracted with the two end covers)
L, 87 cm (fully extended)

Note:

The first telescope to arrive in Japan was a gift from King James I (1566-1625) to the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) in 1613. The Shogun made good use of his telescope during his battles and since then the Shogun and many of the country rulers asked the VOC, the Dutch East India Company based on the island of Deshima in the bay of Nagasaki, for telescopes as a tribute. At the end of the seventeenth century making of telescopes started in Japan, mainly in Nagasaki. The best known opticians during the Edo Period were Mori Nizaemon (1673-1754) of Nagasaki and Iwahashi Zenbei (1756-1811) of Osaka. The important role played by telescopes, of both European and Japanese manufacture, in the visual culture of the Edo Period is discussed in detail in Timon Screech, The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan, (Cambridge, 1996).
For a similar example see NHK Service Centre and Siebold Council, Chikuzo 350-shunen Nagasaki Dejima ten (Exhibition commemorating the 350th anniversary of Deshima in Nagasaki, Tokyo and Osaka, 1986, cat. no. 134) for another example see Doris Croissant and Lothar Ledderose (eds.), Japan and Europe, 1543-1929 (pl. 61 in the exhibition catalogue: Berlin, Argon Verlag, 1993) there is an example in the Kobe Museum collection and two further examples of glass tube telescopes are in my catalogue Uit Verre Streken, Maastricht March 2015, cat. no. 59 and 60.

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