Accessory Box with Thistles
Harui Komin (1869-ca. 1940)
Item number: T-4182
Size: H 6.1" x W 12.8" x L 10.4" (15.5 x 32.4 x 26.5 cm)
Era: Taisho (1912-1926) or Showa (1926-1989)
Tebako (accessory box) with rounded corners and inrōbuta (flush-fitting lid) decorated in gold, silver, and colored togidashi maki-e on a polished black- lacquer ground with a close-up design of thistle leaves, stems, and flowers, the interior gold nashiji, the rims silver
Fitted wooden tomobako storage box inscribed outside Togidashi kusabana maki-e ontebako Kōmin saku 研出草花蒔絵 御手箱 恒眠作 (Accessory box with togidashi maki-e [design of] grasses and flowers, made by Kōmin), with a seal
The storage box is signed by Harui Kōmin (birth name: Seizaburō) who was born in 1869, apprenticed to the leading maki-e artists Nakagawa Shibasen (1846–1897) and Yamamoto Rihei V (1839–1908), and studied painting at the Naniwa Gagakkō, an Osaka art academy founded in 1884. In 1888 he moved to Osaka and was appointed to a senior position at the Ikeda Gōmeigaisha, a large art trading company, operated by Ikeda Seisuke, which sold most of its production to foreign clients. Kōmin was in charge of around 40 craftsmen and improved his technique by studying Ikeda’s large stock of classic lacquer wares. The Ikeda Gōmeigaisha was disbanded in 1911 and in the following year Kōmin took a position with another company, Mikami Yōkōdō of Kyoto, but retired to Suma, near Kobe, for health reasons in 1914. Several works attributed to Kōmin are in the Baur Collection, Geneva, probably because Alfred Baur’s principal dealer, Tomita Kumasaku, had previously worked for the Ikeda Company. Kōmin’s best known work is a splendid cabinet in the Khalili collection, reputedly made between 1904 and 1911 and presented in 1921 to the Prince of Wales (the future King George VIII).1 The date of his death remains unknown.