I spent a fascinating morning in the Japanese Galleries at the British Museum today on a tour led by Yannick Pucci, one of the team of volunteer guides who take you round the galleries and help you understand what you’re seeing. The tour only lasts half an hour so we just looked at a small selection of the exhibits but I found it all highly illuminating. When the tour finished I asked Yannick to pick out his favorite objects for me. Here they are, along with a couple of my favorites as well.
The porcelain dish in the photo above is on his favorites list and mine as well. It’s a modern work, ‘Dawn’, made in 1992 by Tokuda Yasokichi III who was the third generation of a family of potters in Ishikawa Prefecture. He was made a living national treasure in 1997.
Yannick pointed out to me the deep blue of the reverse of this dish too but it’s hard to capture the depth and beauty of the colour in a photo – go and see it for yourself..
Continuing the porcelain theme, he chose this Nabeshima dish, from the section on Arts of the Samurai and Court, which dates from 1680-1720. The wave in the background was done in the ‘disappearing ink’ technique where ink lines painted on to create the wave pattern disappeared during firing to leave white lines instead. We agreed that having a picture of porcelain pots on a porcelain dish gave an interesting chinese boxes feel to it.
I liked this portrait of a retired townsman who had taken buddhist vows (hence the shaved head) from the late 1600’s-1700. The crystal eyes bring the statue to life and he seems to have a little smile on his face.
This picture of the Meiji Emperor from 1887 made me smile – he looks so dashing and gallant!
And some more modern porcelain, this time created by Nakagawa Mamoru in 2010 especially for the British Museum. The design was inspired by the mountain scenery near his home in Kanazawa City and also represents dawn.
The tours are free and you can see details about them on the British Museum website. I thoroughly recommend them.