Bonhams to Auction Part Two of the Edward Wrangham Collection

. April 26, 2011 . 0 Comments

Following the success of Part 1 of the Edward Wrangham Collection in November 2010, which realised over £2 million and included a world record price for an inro** sold at auction, Bonhams is delighted to announce the second sale of the collection that will take place at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 10th May.

Considered one of Europe’s most important and comprehensive private collections of Japanese Gentleman’s accessories, it was formed by the late environmentalist, mountaineer, scholar and collector Edward Wrangham OBE.

Wrangham’s first piece was given to him in 1936 when he was eight years old and was considered the last of the great British collectors. Wrangham continued to add to his collection until his death in 2009, sourcing works of art from all over the world. His collection, which was also published and written about by Wrangham himself, comprises over 1000 pieces of inro, netsuke and Japanese sword fittings assembled over many decades.

An extremely rare early 20th century, roiro lacquer four-case inro by Shirayama Shosai (1853-1923) is one of the top lots in the sale and is estimated to sell for £20,000 – 30,000. Finely lacquered in gold, the inro depicts a full-length portrait of the Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX, a contemporary of the artist.

Ichikawa Danjuro was one of the most famous and successful Kabuki actors during the late 19th century Meiji Period in Japan, and is widely credited with ensuring that the traditional art form remained vibrant as Japan struggled with Westernisation. Represented in a Shibaraku role, one of the most popular pieces in the Kabuki repertoire, he is showing off a fan, with the large square sleeves of the extravagant costume continuing on the reverse. Works by Shirayama Shosai, one the most important lacquer artists of the time, are very rare and highly sought after.

Further highlights include a stunning roiro lacquer five-case inro by the renowned lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), also of the Meiji Period. Decorated in gold, silver and black, with a finch perched on a finely detailed cherry branch, with a mosquito; the exquisite inro is estimated to sell for £20,000-25,000. A lacquer four-case inro by Shibata Zeshin is also estimated to sell for £20,000 – 25,000.

In addition to the exquisite collection of ino, netsuke and sword fittings, the Edward Wrangam Collection also includes works of art. A woven writing box, in gold and silver lacquer, by Mochizuki Hanzan in the 18th century, depicts the fable of Rosei. The figure of Rosei is reclining on a bench, beside the terrace of a pavilion framed by rocks and trees, holding a fan over his face as he dreams. The box is estimated to sell for£15,000-20,000.

**An inro (literally meaning sealed case) is a traditional Japanese case consisting of a stack of small, nested boxes that were used to carry small objects such as seals, tobacco and medicines; the netsuke is a small carving in wood or ivory that keeps the inro securely closed. Japanese men wore traditional Kimono and the inro were worn suspended from the sash for all to see. After humble beginnings as functional items, between the 17th-19th centuries inro and netsuke were developed by some of Japan’s finest craftsmen into miniature works of art.

Image: A lacquer four-case inro By Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), Meiji Period

Category: Antiques

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