Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Pair of mounted bowls
Pair of Japanese lacquered bowls; each with black ground sprinkled with gold; depicting landscape designs of pines and stalks. Fitted with gilt bronze mounts: chased Bacchic head at front of rim from which ribbed mouldings follow rim to form double handles. Splayed foot.
These bowls combine Japanese lacquer and French mounts of equally high quality. Each bowl was made by building up numerous very thin layers of lacquer on a thin wooden base. The lacquer is decorated with swirling eddies, herons and plants against a granular gold (nashiji) ground. Lacquer objects of this quality were not made for the export market and this may have reached the West by means of the private trading that officers of the various East India companies were permitted to carry on. The heavily cast and finely chased gilt bronze mounts consist of nine separate castings. The deep rim is centred on a bacchic mask surrounded by grapes and vine leaves, and appears to be tied at the sides by the thick, sinuous double handles. These terminate in a mount in the form of overlapping clouds or petals of descending sizes, a rare case in which the designer of the mounts appears to have adopted a convention of oriental art. In most cases the marchands-merciers were content either to transform the oriental vase into a Western form, or to invent spurious chinoiserie motifs. This bowl is raised on a tapering foot of a standard early neo-classical design, equally likely to be found supporting a vase or urn of Sèvres porcelain or hardstone.
Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002