The Meiji era began in 1868 with the restoration of imperial rule in Japan and lasted until the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912. The period is associated with a rapid expansion in art forms, mediums, and styles. Both European and Chinese culture influenced the art of the time—the presence of dragons on these vases harkens back to the traditional association of dragons as auspicious symbols in Chinese culture.
The architecture of this period is characterised by the use of brick and stone instead of the traditional wood. In addition to copying Western styles, these materials also protected against fires. The Industrial Revolution also influenced the period with materials like concrete, steel, and glass appearing for the first time in buildings.
Garden designs were in many cases very opulent with the influence of neoclassicism. Gardens often featured fountains, porticoes, and decorative arches. The Irish architect Thomas Waters incorporated these features in his projects while he worked in Japan.
Porcelain of this period held significance both in its decorative style and in political meaning. The Paris’ World Fair of 1867 represented the first major exhibition of Japanese crafts and was seen as a major opportunity to establish trade businesses with the West.
Stylistically, Meiji period porcelain often featured dense flower arrangements with backgrounds filled with further decoration. In an effort to appeal to European taste, the decoration often included pagodas, folding fans, and traditional landscapes.
We are delighted to share this pair of large Japanese Meiji period hexagonal vases with a red ground. The vases are decorated throughout on panels depicting dragons and flowers. The vases are mounted as lamps with hand gilded turned bases.