Inkstone box (suzuribako)

Historical period(s)
Edo period, 19th century
Lacquer, gold, and silver
H x W x D: 4.5 x 20.9 x 23 cm (1 3/4 x 8 1/4 x 9 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer

Inkstone box (suzuribako)

crane, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan

From at least 1933-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 Moslé, “The Mosle Collection: Descriptive Catalogue to be used in Connection with the Illustrations of ‘Japanese works of art’ selected from the Mosle Collection – Portfolio II” [book] (Leipzig: Poeschel & Trepte, 1933), vol. II, cat. 1698, p. 39. 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 13, 2023

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

A. Henry Mosle
Alexander G. Mosle


Although both the exterior and interior scenes suggest autumn, their moods contrast.  The suggestion of evening solitude on the exterior gives way to the luxuriant brilliance of chrysanthemums in full bloom when the box is opened. The outer lid is decorated with a pair of cranes facing each other on a sloping water bank.

Published References
  • Alexander G. Mosle. The Mosle Collection: Descriptive Catalogue... Leipzig. cat. 1698, vol. 2: p. 39.
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 20, p. 42.
  • Linda Merrill. The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography. Washington and New Haven. pp. 182, 239, fig. 4.34, 6.4.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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