Kodansu (small cabinet)

Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, early 17th century
Lacquer, gold, shell on wood with gilt metal fittings
H x W x D: 28 x 21.3 x 33.4 cm (11 x 8 3/8 x 13 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Furniture and Furnishing, Lacquer


Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615)

From at least 1914-to 1943 
Alexander George Mosle (1862-1945), possibly purchased in Japan [1]  

A. Henry Mosle (1866-1957), held a lien on Alexander George Mosle’s collection through a Deed of Trust – Chattels [2] 

From 1944 
The Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Alexander Mosle through A. Henry Mosle [3] 


[1] See Alexander George Mosle, “Japanese Works of Art: Armour, Weapons, Sword-Fittings, Lacquer, Pictures, Textiles, Colour-Prints, selected from the Moslé Collection” [book] (Leipzig: E. A . Seemann, 1914), vol. 1, cat. 1679, p. 21; vol. 2, pl. CV. See also Alexander George Mosle, “The Mosle Collection: Descriptive Catalogue to be used in Connection with the Illustrations of ‘Japanese works of art’ selected from the Moslé Collection – Portfolio II” [book] (Leipzig: Poeschel & Trepte, 1933), vol. II, cat. 1679, p. 33. Alexander Mosle was a businessman who lived in Japan from 1884-1907, during which time he began collecting Japanese works of art.

[2] See June 17, 1943 Deed of Trust – Chattels, between Alexander G. Mosle and Jesse Knight and Eugene W. Goodwillie, trustees on behalf of A. Henry Mosle. Alexander was indebted to his cousin Henry, and his entire collection of Japanese Art was secured as chattel for the debt under the terms of the Deed. See original Deed of Trust – Chattels in object file. 

[3] The Freer Gallery of Art paid A. Henry Mosle and Alexander G. Mosle separate payments on May 29, 1944, approved on May 27, 1944. See also April 28, 1944 letter from A.G. Wenley to Alexander Mosle wherein Wenley indicates which items the Freer wishes to purchase from Mosle’s inventory list. See also May 26, 1944 letter from A. Henry Mosle to Alan C. Maxwell, charging Maxwell to act as agent for Henry, in the matter of the release of the Deed of Trust – Chattels at the sale of the selected objects from Alexander’s collection to the Freer. See object file for copy of invoice, letters, and original Release of Deed of Trust - Chattels. 

Research updated January 12, 2023

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

A. Henry Mosle
Alexander G. Mosle


Chrysanthemums in gold maki-e, the Japanese technique of sprinkling gold or silver powder on freshly applied lacquer, are accentuated by large inlays of iridescent shell. Meandering across the fronts of the drawers inside the cabinet is a floral design in the same materials. The Japanese preference for treating surfaces as a continuous space rather than as separate elements is beautifully demonstrated by this design.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 10: pls. 12-13.
  • Alexander G. Mosle, Henri L. Joly. Japanese Works of Art: Armour, Weapons, Sword-fittings, Lacquer, Pictures, Textiles, Color-prints selected from the Mosle Collection. 2 vols. Leipzig. cat. 1679, vol. 2: pl. CV.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 111, vol. 2: p. 181.
  • Edward F. Strange, Victoria and Albert Museum. Catalogue of Japanese Lacquer. 2 vols., London. pp. 11-14.
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 8, p. 20.
  • Alexander G. Mosle. The Mosle Collection: Descriptive Catalogue... Leipzig. cat. 1679, p. 33.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 92.
  • Martin Feddersen. Japanese Decorative Art: A Handbook for Collectors and Connoisseurs., 1st American ed. New York. p. 159, fig. 147.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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