Detail: Teapot Top View
Arguably, this remarkable silver and enamel tea set is among the finest of its type ever made. It comprises a teapot, a creamer, a lidded sugar bowl and a pair of sugar tongs. Each is overlaid in various coloured cloisonne enamels with complex and highly naturalistic iris and wisteria blooms and foliage. The feathery fine wisteria leaves alternate between light green enamel and silver; the blooms between blue, mauve and cream. The iris blooms and buds are in pale green, mauve, cream and pink.
Each handle is formed in silver as iris leaves decorated with iris blooms in pale green, yellow and pinks, again in a very naturalistic manner.
Each piece is further decorated in the lower sections with engraved scenes of mountains and ponds.
Each piece is stamped 'Musashiya' to the base and engraved on the sides with 'Masazane'.
The tea set is in excellent condition.
Musashiya was a company operated by Ozeki Yahei and his son Sadajiro. It was the pre-eminent retailer of high-end decorative arts during the Meiji era. The Yokohama branch of Musahiya was established soon after the Yokohama port opened in 1859. (Yokohama port became the largest of Japan's ports during the Meihi era.) In 1877, both father and son exhibited pieces that they had comissioned under their separate names in Japan's National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai). By 1880, the company employed twenty-four people and dealt in enamels, bronzes, ceramics, ivory, crystal, carvings fans, hardstones, tortoiseshell, and lacquer.
Bennett, J., & A. Reigle Newland, The Golden Journey: Japanese Art from Australian Collections, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2009.
Earle, J., Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji Period from the Khalili Collection, The Khalili Family Trust, 2002.
Provenance: UK art market, UK private collection
Detail: Close-up view