Platter with design of deer

Artist: Funaki Kenji (1927-2015)
Historical period(s)
Showa era, ca. 1952-1955
Stoneware with white slip and iron decoration under iron-tinted lead glaze
H x W: 4 x 23.1 cm (1 9/16 x 9 1/8 in)
Japan, Shimane prefecture, Fujina, Tamayu town
Credit Line
Gift of Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


deer, Japan, Showa era (1926 - 1989), stoneware

From at least 1955 to 1991
Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran, Alexandria, VA, acquired in Tokyo, from at least 1955 [1]

From 1991
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, given by Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran in 1991


[1] According to a signed statement from Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran in 1992: "The Japanese platter by Funaki Kenji was obtained by Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran during the three years, 1952-1955, while we and our two daughters resided in Tokyo. During those years Saul was a member of the Economic/Commercial Section of the American Embassy; Elizabeth was associated for a part of those years with the Consular Division of the Embassy. While in Japan we enjoyed travel to various places. We became acquainted with the pottery produced in various parts of the country. We attended exhibits by folk potters in Tokyo at major department stores. It is our recollection that the Funaki Kenji platter was purchased at one such exhibit, probably at the Mitsukoshi department store" (see Provenance Remark 1 in the object record). Also, see Curatorial Remark 1, Louise Cort, December 4, 1991: "The Barans acquired this piece and others when they were based in Tokyo between 1952 and 1955 and patronized the exhibitions held annually by Funaki father and son at the Folk Craft Movement's gallery and store, Takumi, and at Mitsukoshi Department Store."

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Saul and Elizabeth C. Baran


Funaki Kenji's career developed under the influence of the Folk Craft Movement initiated in the 1920s by critic and philosopher Yanagi Soetsu and potters Hamada Shoji and Kawai Kanjiro. Funaki is the fifth-generation head of a family-based pottery in Fujina, near Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture--the sort of establishment that Yanagi saw as the last survivor of a rich rural craft tradition in Japan. Funaki's father, Michitada (1900-1963), studied oil painting at the Tokyo College of Fine Arts, but returned to making pottery in the early 1930s after coming under the influence of the Folk Craft Movement ideals. Bernard Leach, the British potter who was also deeply involved in the Folk Craft Movement, paid several visits to the Funaki workshop, the first in 1934 when Funaki Kenji was just seven years old, and introduced the forms and techniques of English slip ware.

Funaki studied with his father and, in 1950, with Hamada in Mashiko. In 1967 he worked with Bernard and David Leach in St. Ives, Cornwall. Funaki's representative style, like that of his father, draws on the English slip ware tradition, using simple pressmolded forms, designs applied with poured slip or drawn through wet slip, and yellow or green lead-silicate glazes. This large oval platter with design of a running deer painted in iron on white slip under a clear amber glaze is typical of that style.

Published References
  • Sir Hugh Cortazzi. Japanese Potter Funaki Kenji. Hong Kong, September/October 1986. .
  • Rev. David Walker Plumer. A Japanese Potter at Work: Candid Glimpses of Funaki at His Wheel. vol. IV, no. 3, Ann Arbor, September 1952. pp. 12-14, pls. 1-5.
  • Louise Allison Cort. Twentieth-century Asian Crafts in the Sackler Gallery. vol. XLIII no. 3. p. 22, fig. 10.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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