Masterpieces by Japan’s most famous lacquer artist to go on sale at Bonhams


Panel with design of farmhouse in the snow at Sano by Shibata Zeshin

Bonhams in London is to hold a series of sales from the Misumi Collection of Important Works of Lacquer Art and Paintings, the first of which will take place on Wednesday 5 November 2014 at its headquarters, 101 New Bond Street, London.

The sale features a selection of masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891), an artist admired by Western collectors for over a century. Nine of them were included in a comprehensive Zeshin exhibition held in 2012 at Tokyo’s acclaimed new Nezu Museum

Among the highlights is a very rare lacquer panel based on a Noh play, made in 1883 in imitation of Western paintings on canvas which were becoming widely known in Japan at the time. Executed in lavish silver on black lacquer with minute architectural details, it is estimated at £80,000–120,000.

The sale also includes examples of Zeshin’s much loved inrō (miniature medicine cases). One example, formerly in the legendary Vever and Greenfield Collections, is shaped as a rustic hut containing a box decorated with Shōki the Demon-queller in pursuit of his quarry. Famous among Zeshin enthusiasts the world over, this inrōis estimated at £60,000–80,000.

Suzannah Yip, Bonhams Director of Japanese Art, comments: “We are honored to have been entrusted with the sale of this remarkable collection of lacquer and painting by an artist whose work is so admired both inside and outside Japan. This landmark sale underscores Bonhams status as the leading global auction house for truly important Japanese art.”