Sebastian Izzard LLC Asian Art presented fine and rare Japanese art of the 17th through 19th centuries at Frieze Masters, Stand B9, Regent’s Park, London. Highlights included a magnificent pair of six-panel screens depicting the environs of the capital city of Kyoto – Rakuchu rakugai zu– that date from the second quarter of the 17th century. The screens were formerly in the collection of the Manno Art Museum in Osaka. (Sebastian Izzard LLC handled the sale of ukiyo-e paintings from this institution in 2003.)
The pair of screens depicts a panoramic overview of contemporary Kyoto replete with temples and shrines and other architectural and natural landmarks. Filled with scenes of everyday life, rakuchu rakugai zu represent the first true genre painting in Japan. Such screens were in great demand among the people of Kyoto, and were also purchased by out-of-town travelers as a souvenir of their visit to the capital. Painted in rich mineral pigments on a gold leaf ground, these screens are of a quality that rarely comes to the marketplace.
An extremely rare set of five Nabeshima porcelain dishes decorated with a stylized cloud and cherry blossom design in colored enamels were also featured. This set, circa 1704–16, is representative of the mature period of Nabeshima porcelain production. The dishes were acquired in Japan around 1898–99 by James Alexander Scrymser (1839–1918), and have remained with his descendants until the present day.
Rounding out the exhibition was a group of important Japanese color woodblock prints and paintings of the ukiyo-e school including a particularly fine example of Toshusai Sharaku’s (active 1794–95) portrait of the actor Ichikawa Yaozo III as Tanabe Bunzo, and an extremely rare early first version of Utagawa Hiroshige’s (1797–1858) Nakatsugawa from the Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido series.