A rectangular Japanese transition style coffer with domed lid and gilt-copper fittings. The decorations are in various techniques. The cartouches are on a rare woodgrain ground called Mokumé (a pattern to suggest the presence of woodgrain). The cartouches shaped as butterflies decorated with landscapes of Japanese pavilions, pagodas and birds. The inside of the lid is decorated with Wisteria vines and a Phoenix. Bronzes re-gilded, restorations to the lacquerwork and decorations.
Lacquer work with Mokume in such a large scale is very rare on a large object like this. The only comparable pieces with Mokume on such a large scale are in the collection of the Groninger Museum and another coffer in a private collection since 2011.
Japanese export lacquerware was one of the many goods the VOC shipped from Asia to Europe. The lacquerwork was made in Japan for export and delivered in all forms, such as suitcases, trunks, boxes and cabinets. These pieces of Japanese lacquerware regularly stood as a kind of artpieces in the reception rooms as conversation pieces. Collecting exotica was in general something for the master of the House. The ladies were bussy setting up and showing off their dolls houses.
Making Japanese lacquerware was fiddly, took a lot of time and was very expensive. Eventhough the lacquerwork was popular it did not bring the VOC much profit because of the size of the pieces, they simply took to much room in the hold of the ship. The trade in Japanese lacquerware was therefore only a small part of the VOC trade with Japan. It was purchased on a limited scale, initially in Hirado and after 1641 in Nagasaki. Since then the trade went through Deshima, a small artificial island in the Bay of Nagasaki.
Especially in the seventeenth century the lacquerware came to Europe. The highlight of the trade in Japanese lacquerware was between 1635 and 1670.
By family repute from the Cecil family, England.