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Tea Leaf Jar
Nonomura Ninsei (about 1574 - 1660/66)
Japan, Kyoto Prefecture; Edo period (1615-1867), mid-17th century
Stoneware painted with overglaze enamels and silver (Kyoto ware)
H. 12 in. (30.5 cm); D. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The decoration on this jar by Nonomura Ninsei consists of a group of crows: a pair seems to be engaged in a physical struggle, while four others fly around the two and one sits on the ground beside small rocks and bamboo, observing the mid-air action. The sweeping vision of the overall composition, along with the vivid realism of both the physiognomy of the birds and the tension in the scenery, exemplifies Ninsei's affinity to the art of screen painting. Ninsei's beautifully enameled ceramics, especially large tea-leaf storage jars like this, formed an essential part of contemporary Kyoto tea ceremony culture. One of only a handful of 17th-century potters with name recognition, Ninsei operated an extremely successful kiln called Omuro in Kyoto and catered primarily to important patrons in Edo. His seal is imprinted into the unglazed base of the jar.
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