Introduction
Exhibition 2004

Brandt Oriental Art has been dealing in Japanese and Chinese art for over
twenty five years. This year’s catalogue is an eclectic and unusual mixture of
good Meiji objects, Tibetan sculptural works of art, scholars-items, export
material and pieces that result from the collaboration between western and
eastern cultures.

The iron carp No.23 is one of the finest pieces of Japanese metal
workmanship to have passed through our hands. The subtle use of mixed
metals and delicate gilding,allied to the articulated body, give it a suppleness
that exceeds similar representation on other materials such as cloisonné or
porcelain.

The scholar’s table provides a number of interesting carvings, from the
beautifully patinated ivory incense vase No.7 to the abstract scholar’s rock
No.19, used to break up the uniformity of a room, to the burr wood scroll pot
No.52 the natural form cleverly incorporated into a receptacle, and ultimately
to a model of a scholar himself No.47, masterfully represented in a horseshoe
chair.

Amongst the export material, two wonderful screens stand out, not only for
their expertise in execution but also for the subject matter depicted. Both
Japanese, the first is a six panel silk screen No.74 using the raised technique
(oshi-e), showing rice production, the other a Kano School screen No.69,
using a popular depiction, Chinese boys at play.

Finally we must mention a number of pieces that cross the cultural divides,
the study of which is so relevant today, politically, sociologically and
culturally. The table screen No.14, with a Dutchman seen on the reverse,
points to the well established traderoutes between China and Holland, while
the European merchant No.1, carved in ivory, suggests a more personal touch,
perhaps some form of portraiture. But it is the white marble figure of a Jesuit
priest No.5 that brings the whole concept of two cultures exchanging ideas on
a myriad of subjects (with the Jesuits in China it ranged from glass-making to
astronomy, to mathematics to horology) to the fore, in this rare
representation. In addition the fact that this sculpture was commissioned in
the early seventeenth century, suggests the immediate absorption of men like
Matthieu Ricci, into Chinese society, while their legacy emerges in full flower
later on in the Kangxi and Qianlong periods.


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