- Museum number
Hexagonal lidded jar, made of porcelain decorated in polychrome overglaze enamels in Kakiemon style and nigoshide body; the body is made by slab construction. The body has two alternating designs of flower sprays round sides; shoulder and lid with three quatrefoil floral panels superimposed on green tendril-scroll ground with blue blooms on red ground; shoulders with a border of triangles and neck with key-fret band.
- Production date
Diameter: 16 centimetres
Height: 31 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The Japanese first began to create porcelain in the early 17th century in the Arita area of the Saga domain (currently Saga Prefecture). Techniques were based on both Korean and Chinese prototypes. The painting of overglaze enamel colours over a porcelain ceramic body was first introduced in the mid 1640s. In the 1670-90s, overglaze enamels were taken to the height of perfection by the creation of Kakiemon style ware at the Nangawara kiln group, which included the Kakiemon kiln where this jar was made.
Kakiemon style ware is characterized by refined clear glaze applied over a creamy white body (nigoshide) that is fired in a reducing atmosphere in the kiln. Against this background polychrome overglaze enamel designs are applied with greater effect. Bright reds, greens, blues and yellows are commonly employed.
Kakiemon style ware was first made by Sakaida Kizaemon (1596–1666). He developed a distinctive orange-red enamel, the colour of a persimmon (Japanese: kaki) and subsequently received the name of Kakiemon. More than three hundred years later, Sakaida Kakiemon XV (born 1968) is still producing the distinctive Kakiemon style porcelain in Arita, Saga Prefecture, Northern Kyushu.
With the decline of the Chinese Ming dynasty (in about AD 1660) Japan took over as the main supplier of export porcelain to Europe, in a trade monopolised by the Dutch East India Company. Objects like this lidded jar came to ornament the stately homes and palaces of Europe, such as Hampton Court. This type of Kakiemon jar is commonly known as the Hampton Court vase. Many copies were made at European kilns in the eighteenth century.
Porcelain with coloured enamels
Arita, late 17th century.
This jar represents the perfection of Kakiemon style ware, with its opaque milky white glaze and fresh enamelled colours. Hexagonal jars like this have come to be identified with the fine examples in the Hampton Court collection, although similar pieces are found in grand houses and palaces throughout Europe. They were widely copied by European ceramicists during the 18th century. (label copy, VH, 1999)
Smith et al 1990
This jar represents the perfection of Kakiemon ware which so attracted Europeans who were used to a greyer body, with its faultless milky-white ground and its jewel-like enamelling in clear colours. Existing jars of this type have all been found in European palaces and grand houses, notably at Hampton Court, where they were used as ornaments and rarely show signs of wear. They were widely copied by European ceramicists in the eighteenth century.
Jenyns, Soame, 'Japanese Porcelain', London, 1965, pl. 65b(ii).
Ayers, Impey & Mallet 1990
Of the same form as No. 151 and and [sic] painted in Kakiemon enamels. Round the sides are two alternating designs of flower sprays and on the shoulder, three quatrefoil floral panels superimposed on a green tendril-scroll ground with blue blooms on a red ground - a design repeated on the cover - with a border of triangles below. A key-fret band runs round the neck.
Tokyo National Museum, 'Masterpieces of Japanese and Chinese Art from the British Museum', 1987, No. 56.
- On display (G93/dc7/sC)
- Exhibition history
2006 Oct 13-, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
- Registration number