In stunning shades of deep reds and ivory, this elegant Japanese cloisonne enamel on silver vase is an eye-catching lot in July’s Asian Works of Art Auction. Cloisonné is an ancient process dating back to the Bronze Age, using fine metal wire to secure enamel decoration to metalwork. From the French word cloisons (literally partitions), the process involves applying gold, silver or metal wire to an object to form ‘compartments’ or partitions across the surface. Into these compartments is placed enamel or inlays. Cloisonné enamel is a type of artwork seen very often at auction. The enamel powder is worked into a paste, applied to the areas on the object as desired, and then fired.
This early 20th century vase is exemplary of Japan’s prowess in cloisonné, demonstrative too of the Japanese penchant for highly technical artistic techniques. The Japanese artist here makes full use of this intricate process and yet leaves us with the impression of delicacy and spontaneity. We enjoy the ‘empty’ space as much as the powerful floral motif, a flower which appears to blow in the wind. Enamel on silver is fairly rare to auction and this vase will soon start its new chapter in a new collection, sure to be much-loved by its lucky new owner.