Bronze Okimono

Antique Bronze and Gilt Merchant Figure with Monkey | Japanese Okimono By Miyao Eisuke of Yokohama | Meiji Period

Age:Late 19th/Century

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-0”h x 2-1/8”l x 1-3/4”w 

Shown is a very fine and exceptional mixed alloy figure using bronze making techniques known as “shakudo and shibuichi”. The expressive figure illustrates a seated merchant dressed in traditional garments by Miyao (workshop of Miyao Eisuke of Yokohama), Meiji Period, late 19th century. This bronze figure has rich brown patinas to the face, hands, and feet, contrasting the darker bronze body, that has intricate gold and copper details simulating a brocade-patterned garment. He has a very sweet and expressive monkey, (saru), sitting and reaching over his shoulder. His face is also finished in a rich brown patina with intricate gold detailed hair on his head and flowing down his back. His small tail is also accented with gold. The artist has selectively accented various elements of the seated figure such as his hat, belt, tied garment around his shoulders. Signed Miyao in ink on the bottom of each piece. This is a free-standing figure and not attached to a stand as it was custom for larger pieces. The piece was purchased at auction in 1998 in Yokohama, Japan.

Antique Condition: Excellent and quite heavy, with the goldwork and detailed elements intact. As is”, the piece has not been cleaned or restored and retains the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, surface wear, or structural damage is noted.

NOTE: The Japanese metalwork craftsmen adapted their existing skills to manufacture a wide range of fine objects focused on traditional Japanese life.  Elaborate bronze figures depicting artisans, performers, merchants, farmers,  and Bijin, (beautiful women), as well as bronze animals, (tanuki, pheasants, eagles, owls, roosters to name a few, along with numerous articulated figures such as lobsters). Noh masks, which were commonly featured in traditional Japanese life. The Miyao Company, founded by Miyao Eisuke had production centers in Tokyo and Yokohama and produced fine three-dimensional bronze objects, with intricate gilt details. Pieces ranged in all sizes but his large Samurai figures we the favorite export item during this period.

These intricately designed items are not just meant to serve as decorative props but are actually deeply intertwined with the country’s history and artistic expressions. This Japanese influence had a direct impact on many British artists notably the architect-designer William Morris, Edward William Godwin, and Christopher Dresser all of who contributed to the Anglo-Japanese and Arts & Crafts movements.