Cloisonné enamelled table cabinet
Japan; probably Nagoya
Copper, cloisonné enamel
Height 18.5 cm
Museum no. M.70-1969
This exterior of this small table-cabinet has a cloisonné enamel decoration of butterflies in hanging wisteria, all on a blue enamel ground. On opening, seven small drawers can be seen; these, and the inner face of the doors, are decorated with birds, including the mythical Hō-ō bird (a type of phoenix) in an autumnal maple tree together with chrysanthemums. This type of work is typical of the cloisonné enamels being produced in and around Nagoya in the latter decade of the nineteenth century.
The V&A's cloisonné collection has grown only modestly since 1910. The hope is that the Museum will be able to expand its holdings of cloisonné enamels and thereby give due recognition to an aspect of Japan's artistic legacy that has been the focus of increasing interest among museums and collectors during the last fifteen years.