Imaizumi Seishi 今泉成子 (act. 1910-1950)

Maki-e Incense Box with a Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu

Inv. Nr.  #17.022
Date Taishō/ early Shōwa

Wood, black, gold and silver lacquer

Dimensions H 2,6 x Diam. 7,6 cm

In excellent condition, with signed wooden box.

Price: EUR 6,500

This luxurious maki-e incense box was made by the great prewar Taishō/Shōwa period lacquer master Imaizumi Seishi. The exterior of the box is decorated with a delicate takamaki-e imaginary portrait of the famous Heian-period (794-1185) court novelist Murasaki Shikibu (10th/11th century) watching autumn leaves against a black lacquered and gold-spotted polished togidashi background.


The wonderful arrangement captures an intimate moment: The lady elegantly hides her noble face behind a fan and possibly contemplates the impermanence of all worldly phenomena (mujō 無常) while watching a falling red maple leaf. Her face is modeled in a semi-relief takamaki-e technique, with rounded cheeks and black pupils under the tiny eyelids of her half-closed eyes. Her black hair is scratched and retouched with black lacquer, even thinner than real human hair, in this technical masterpiece.


Imaizumi Seishi is an important Japanese lacquer artist of the pre-war Taishō and Shōwa periods. He specialized in inrō and was a board member of the Tōkyō Maki-e Lacquer Association. Although not much is known about his life, his objects illustrate his high technical achievement of Japanese maki-e lacquer art. They are held in various collections such as the Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum in Kyoto, which has one of the finest maki-e collections in the world. Another artist name of Imaizumi Seishi was Nariyuki. The Irving Gould Collection included a suzuribako with a view of Matsushima contained in a storage box signed by Nariyuki and stating that it had been viewed by the Shōwa Emperor on a documented visit to Ibaraki Prefecture in November 1946.