After years of shogun rule, in 1868 Japan was once again ruled by an Emperor. He took the name Meiji which means "enlightened rule". This period is called the Meiji Restoration and endured until 1912. The government realized that Japanese arts and crafts could be exported to answer the Western curiosity about Japanese culture and to help stabilize the Japanese economy. The province of Satsuma was a particularly important producer of porcelains and stoneware during this rich period of production.
The Satsuma ceramic pieces in this exhibition represent the characteristics that attracted collectors in the West as well as at home in Japan. The artists painted with delicate brushes, applying tiny strokes of enamel on the ceramic surface. Their compositions were intricate and highly detailed scenes of Japanese life. Each piece is unique with designs that tell stories about Japanese customs, the landscape and life at court and in the countryside.
These images captured the imagination of turn of the century collectors just as they do today. The level of detail requires close study to uncover all the nuances of each piece. Through them the viewer can be transported into a fantasy world of ancient Samurai and festivals under blooming sakura trees in Japan's parks.
What is Meiji magic? Collector Alex Kasten believes that the magic of Meiji is that after so many years living with this collection he still finds new details to amaze him.
Location: Gallery 15