Tea Container with Plum Blossoms

Aoki Mokubeiearly 1800s

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

Aoki Mokubei, born into a family of restaurateurs, was a potter, calligrapher, painter, and scholar, and is considered one of the three masters of later Edo period Kyoto ceramics. He specialized in porcelains fashioned after Chinese prototypes, and created works for steeped tea (sencha) such as these matching tea caddies decorated in an underglaze blue called sometsuke—literally “with applied dye.” He signed them on their bottoms. They also have intricately patterned silk sleeves to both beautify and protect them. On the exterior of the lid of the outer wooden box that contains them, it is written that Mokubei inscribed and painted an image on the box. On the interior of the lid, the signature and seals of a former owner are written. Mokubei has signed the lid of the inner box, and a charming ink and light color composition of West Lake in Hangzhou in China covers its three sides. On the fourth side is a long inscription by Mokubei describing the scene.

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  • Title: Tea Container with Plum Blossoms
  • Creator: Aoki Mokubei (Japanese, 1767-1833)
  • Date Created: early 1800s
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 7.7 x 4.8 cm (3 1/16 x 1 7/8 in.)
  • Provenance: (Mathias Komor, New York, NY, sold to Severance and Greta Millikin), Severance A. [1895-1985] and Greta [Marguerite Steckerl] Millikin [1903-1989], Cleveland, OH, given to the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1989.265.1.a
  • Medium: porcelain with underglaze blue
  • Inscriptions: signed "Ro Mokubei" on base in underglaze blue.
  • Department: Japanese Art
  • Culture: Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)
  • Credit Line: Bequest of Mrs. Severance A. Millikin
  • Collection: Japanese Art
  • Accession Number: 1989.265.1.a

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