A Japanese wood and lacquer Suzuribako writing box and cover signed Koma Kansai
Edo period, early 18th century
Of standard rectangular form with bevelled edges and kabusebuta (overhanging lid), is entirely covered in black lacquer and decorated in gold, silver, various colours and mother of pearl, takamaki-e (high relief lacquer) and hiramaki-e (low relief lacquer), the lid decorated with a kõmõ-honkoku (red-haired foreigner) and a tenjikin kurombõ (servant from Indonesia), is based on two Nagasaki colour woodblock prints of a Dutchman and his attendant in an illustrated book, portraying forty-two types of foreigners by Ishizaki Gensho, published in 1765, the interior of the box with a nashiji (sprinkled gold lacquer) ground, has a removable tray for fude (brushes) and kogatana (paper-cutting knife) and is fitted with an oval partially gold-lacquered suzuri (ink-grinding stone) and a round silver suiteki (water-dropper).
H. 4.2 x L. 24.2 x W. 21.3 cm
Storage box: H. 7 x L. 26.6 x W. 24 cm
In the original wooden storage box with label reading, right to left: Namban-JinMakie (made for European), Ink-stone case and Niseki 7 go (a shipment or order number?).
Koma Kansai II (1767-1835) is a famous lacquer worker, maki-e artist, in the late Edo period. His main work is inro’s and there are still many around bearing his signature. However, his signature was also often used by other lacquer workers, as is likely to be the case in this box. Koma Kansai is not known to have worked with colours in his lacquer work. The decoration of the Dutchman and his servant on the lid, therefore, are presumably done by another late Edo or more likely an early Meij lacquer worker, perhaps using an older box with Komo Kansai’s signature.