The extravagantly decorated “Satsuma” ceramics which proved so popular with European and American collectors were equally popular with other late 19th century collectors of taste, and Sir Ratan Tata was no exception. The quality of his Satsuma ceramics collection is of the highest standard as exemplified in this piece.
The decoration of wares in the round is typical of those being produced by Yabu Meizan from the late 1890s until the Japan-British Exhibition at the White City, London in 1910; a bowl with a similar decorative layout was exhibited by Meizan here.1 Despite high sales at these exhibitions, Meizan’s work was exhibited in the “industrial” sections of the fairs and he did not achieve the status of “artist” until the 1904, St. Louis World Fair.
The scene which wraps around the bowl is very painterly in its technique and uses space more economically than those earlier pieces by Meizan which tended to have somewhat crowded decoration. The scene here is of a river running through a hilly landscape with wooded islands on which we see willow trees and Shinto shrines. The boats on the river bear Shinto priests who carry religious symbols decorated with sacred white paper slips – gohei.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
Earthenware with glazed and enamelled decoration
Meiji period; Satsuma ware
Satsuma prefecture, Japan
Ht 14.5 x D 20.2 cm