About the Mazarin Chest


The Mazarin Chest (exterior of lid), Japan, about 1640. Museum no. 412-1882 マザラン・チェスト(蓋表)、日本製、1640年頃、館蔵番号 412-1882 (画像をクリックすると拡大します)

The Mazarin Chest (exterior of lid), Japan, about 1640. Museum no. 412-1882

マザラン・チェスト(蓋表)、日本製、1640年頃、館蔵番号 412-1882 (画像をクリックすると拡大します)

The Mazarin Chest, renowned as one of the finest pieces of Japanese export lacquer to have survived from the second quarter of the seventeenth century, is a star item in the V&A's internationally acclaimed collection of Japanese art. It measures 59.0 cm high, 101.5 cm wide and 63.9 cm deep. It is made of black-lacquered wood lavishly decorated with landscape scenes incorporating subject matter from the Tale of Genji and the Tale of the Soga Brothers.

マザラン・チェストは17世紀第二四半期に遡る、現存する日本輸出漆器の最高級品の一つとして名高く、V&Aの世界屈指の日本美術コレクションの中でも目玉の所蔵品です。高さ59.0 cm、縦101.5 cm、横63.9 cm。木の素地に黒漆塗りの表面は源氏物語と曽我物語に取材した画題で豪奢に装飾されています。

Japanese export lacquer, which was first produced in the late sixteenth century, was quite distinct from lacquer made for the domestic market. It was made in a hybrid style that combined western forms with techniques and styles of decoration derived from both Japanese and foreign traditions, especially those of China and Korea. One of their most characteristic features is their extensive use of mother-of-pearl.


During the 1630s, a new style of export lacquer evolved. This was characterised by a small group of objects of exceptionally high quality which showed similarities to lacquer for the domestic market. It is to this group of export lacquer that the Mazarin Chest belongs.


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