Tea bowl

ARTIST / MAKER: Ryokuzan (maker)
DATE: 19th century (made)
PLACE: Japan (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware painted in overglaze enamels and gilt

Although Satsuma makers produced vast quantities of export wares which were well documented in published catalogues, very little records survive and many small workshops are known today only by their signatures. One such workshop is Ryokuzan, the maker of this bowl. His output tends to focus on decorative bowls and vases, usually painted with blossoms characteristic of Japan. This bowl’s exterior is painted with trailing branches of purple and white wisteria above daisies and a profusion of red and pink chrysanthemums. Most Satsuma painters use gilt dots to create depth to the backgrounds of their busy scenes, but here Ryokuzan creates empty cloud-like spaces to suggest a sky. The interior is decorated with thousands of minute, colourful butterflies.