Tsuitate Screen with Design of Golden Fox

Itaya Kōji, Japanese, 1925 - 2006

Geography:
Made in Wajima, Japan, Asia

Period:
Shöwa Period (1926-1989)

Date:
c. 1950s

Medium:
Lacquer on wood with chinkin (incised gold), gold leaf, and inlay of raden (shell); single-panel screen

Dimensions:
45 1/8 x 47 3/4 x 11 inches (114.6 x 121.3 x 27.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
2006-31-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Frederick R. McBrien III, 2006

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Label:
The artist Itaya Kōji specialized in the chinkin (incised gold) technique, which involves carving a design on the lacquer surface and then filling it with gold leaf. It is particularly difficult and exacting. Even a small bowl with this type of decoration can take as long as three months to produce, because every step in the process is done by hand and the lacquer must be allowed to dry thoroughly between each application of the multiple layers.

Additional information:
  • PublicationThe Art of Japanese Craft: 1875 to the Present

    The lacquer artists of Wajima (in Ishikawa prefecture) specialized in two techniques: gold maki-e (sprinkled design) and, as seen on this screen, chinkin, or incised gold, which involves carving a design on the lacquer surface and then filling it with gold leaf. The chinkin technique is particularly difficult and became the hallmark of Wajima lacquer wares. Even a small bowl with chinkin decoration can take as long as three months to make, because every step in the process is done by hand and the lacquer must be allowed to dry thoroughly between each application of the multiple layers. It would have taken the lacquer master Itaya Koji considerably longer to create this single-panel tsuitate screen with a golden fox hunting in the moonlight. Each hair of the fur and each blade of reed grass are carefully incised and filled with both gold and silver lacquer. The fox's paws and muzzle are done in maki-e, producing the appearance of a soft surface that balances the precise linearity of the grasses. The fox's eye and the sliver of a moon that hangs in the black lacquer sky are inlaid with mother-of-pearl that reflects the light. There are blue streaks of clouds in the night sky, which is otherwise black in this dramatic composition. Felice Fischer, from The Art of Japanese Craft: 1875 to the Present, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin (2008), p. 32.