The Asahi Shimbun Display Made in Japan: Kakiemon and 400 years of porcelain, Room 3 British Museum Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 21 August 2016
This is a great celebration of Japanese porcelain which was first made four hundred years ago in the town of Arita. Japan was a latecomer to porcelain production when compared to China and Korea but thanks to domestic unrest in China it was able to quickly gain a market which thanks to the Dutch East India Company, included Europe.
The traditional classic Kakiemon style of the last thirty years of the 17th century comprised of overglaze enamels (orange-red, green, blue and yellow) which were sparsely but elegantly applied to the porcelain. It was particularly popular with Queen Mary in this country and you will find examples in many stately homes and museums too. Although the production of the classic style actually ceased in Japan in the 18th century it was copied by the Chinese and in Europe.
One porcelain maker was Sakaida Kizaemon who in 1647 was thought to be the man who introduced the overglaze enamelling technique to the porcelain kilns in Arita; a fact which earned him the name Sakaida Kakiemon I – which reflects the orangey-red colour that comes from kaki (persimmon). Kakiemon I was the starter of a dynasty of potters which passes down to the eldest son and in fact the current Sakaida Kakiemon XV who succeeded his father Kakiemon XIV in 2013 has especially made a new work, decorated with acorn branches, for the British Museum. In the mid-20th century Kakiemon XIII brought back the traditional style in a more contemporary form and that tradition continues today.
This is a must see exhibition for anyone interested in porcelain!