7781 Makuzu Kōzan II (1859-1940)
A ceramic vase of bulbous double-gourd form, decorated in enamel with a stylised design of cresting white waves against a black ground
Impressed seal mark: Makuzu
Japan early 20th century Taishō/Showa period
Dimensions: H. 30 cm x Diam. 21 cm (11¾” x 8¼”)
Box lid: Kabin (flower vase)
Inside: Makuzu-yō, kokuyū tatsunami no e (Makuzu kiln, black enamel standing waves decoration), Kōzan-saku (made by Makuzu Kōzan)
Miyagawa Hannosuke was the nephew and adopted son of Makuzu Kōzan I (1842-1916), one of the greatest potters of the Meiji period. Hanzan played an active role in the workshop and officially became Makuzu Kozan II in 1917.
The potters of the Makuzu workshop are known for their ability to respond to changing circumstances especially during the Meiji and Taisho eras, whilst exploring technical innovations and yet maintaining their fidelity to Japanese artistic traditions. They came from a long line of potters based in Kyoto and Makuzu Kōzan I took over the family business in 1860. In the summer of 1871, he set up a kiln and a shop in Yokohama and started to manufacture ceramics for the export market. This was a bold move for despite the obvious advantages of being close to the capital, Tokyo, and the tourist shops and trading houses of Yokohama, there was no tradition of porcelain manufacturing there. Nevertheless, during the 1880s Kōzan started to concentrate on producing the high-quality porcelain for which he is best known today, and the Kōzan workshop introduced a vast range of new decorative effects drawn both from Japanese and Chinese ceramic traditions and from newly developed Western techniques and styles, which made their pieces very popular in the West.
As represented in The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave, the world-famous woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), the extensive and freely drawn representation of rough waves often with foam and spray have been one of the most iconic and popular motifs in Japanese art history. In particular, rough waves have been repeatedly picked up by the Rimpa School artists since the Edo period, most notably by Ogata Kōrin (1658-1716) and Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828) amongst others – it is highly probable that the stylised wave design of this vase was inspired by such decorative traditions of Rimpa motifs.