With its distinct color palette of blue, red-orange and gold, Imari porcelain is the result of a series of cross-cultural exchanges in Japan during the Momoyama and Edo periods. Thanks to the dual invasions of Korea led by General Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1592 & 1598, an appreciation for Korean ceramics led many of the feudal lords to return to Japan with Chinese-trained potters. Imari porcelain takes its name from the port where it was frequently shipped and traded in southwest Japan.
First known for Korean-influenced blue and white pottery, Imari porcelain would soon be characterized by the Kinrande style’s distinct blue underglaze and overglaze of rusty red-orange and gold. Gold, though scarce in China, was abundant in Japan at the time and so heavily used. Imari design took its playful motifs from traditional Japanese imagery such as winged cranes, courtesans, flora, fauna and dragons and subsequently grew in demand by the West after the destruction of the kilns at Ching-te-Chen and the halting of trade during the tumultuous political climate of the Qing Dynasty. With the lack of Chinese porcelain on the market, Japanese Imari was able to take center stage in the taste-making homes and palaces of Europe, soon flooding vessels of the Dutch East India Company headed west.
Now a classic decorating element in modern homes looking to incorporate time-honored antiques, Imari porcelain is hitting the auction block at Great Gatsby’s this February. The lots offered include a number of beautiful pieces in great condition from a private Palm Beach collection. Some of the highlights are an impressive lobed charger decorated with a central basket filled with chrysanthemums and surrounded by floral designs, a pair of small vases shaped with figural dragons, a pair of lidded ginger jars decorated with leaves and flowers on associated wooden stands, an ornately patterned lobed charger with a central floral design and a pair of square baluster jars topped by Fu dog covers, all in the palate of blue, red-orange and gold. With such a range of sizes and forms, this collection is a fantastic opportunity to pack a subtle yet colorful punch to your decorating scheme.