Box for writing utensils

Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 19th century
Wood, lacquer, gold, metal, shell
H x W x D: 5.2 x 24.7 x 22.5 cm (2 1/16 x 9 3/4 x 8 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Writing box with ink stone

Edo period (1615 - 1868), horse, Japan, noble, writing

To 1903
Charles Gillot (1853-1903), Paris, to 1903 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from the sale of the Charles Gillot Collection, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Paris, through Yamanaka Sadajiro (of Yamanaka & Company), in 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See S.I. 11, Original Miscellaneous List, pg. 17, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] After his death in 1903, a sale of Asian art belonging to French artist Charles Gillot took place in February 1904 at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris. Yamanaka Sadajiro (of Yamanaka and Co.) attended the sale and annotated the sales catalogue (which is now in the Freer and Sackler Library) on Charles Lang Freer's behalf (see Curatorial Remark 6, Louise Cort, July 11, 2001, in the object record). Also, see note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Gillot (C.L. Freer source) 1853-1903
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Artists of the Rimpa school, named in the late nineteenth century after the painter, textile, and lacquer designer Ogata Korin (1658-1716), are credited with innovative designs for objects, including lacquerware, a craft that demands excellent technical knowledge. In the early seventeenth century, the calligrapher Hon'ami Koetsu (1559-1637) participated in lacquer design. In addition to the traditional gold and silver that had been used in Japanese lacquer decoration since the eighth century, Koetsu is thought to have encouraged the use of new materials, such as sheet lead worked to a textured rather than a polished surface. Korin's lacquer designs carried on the tradition of heavy mother-of-pearl and metal inlays combined with traditional maki-e (sprinkled gold and silver).

This box contains a spurious signature of Korin, but it lacks the fine execution associated with his best designs. It does, however, reflect the importance of Korin's style throughout the nineteenth century, when it was disseminated as much through woodblock-printed books as through direct transmission of his artistic style. The scene comes from the eleventh-century court classic Tales of Ise, in which a courtier rides a horse over a hill. Most of the gold used to depict the hill has rubbed away.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 22, p. 46.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.