Mobile menu
Kutani, Kaga Prefecture [Japan]

Pair of jars 1870 - 1900

Porcelain painted in iron-red and coloured enamels and gold | 45.3 x 44.3 x 44.3 cm (whole object) | RCIN 829

Your share link is...


  • This pair of jars represents a new style of porcelain produced near Kutani (Kaga Province, now Ishikawa Prefecture) after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Production in this region at first suffered from the loss of feudal patrons, but an innovative new industry quickly emerged which became popular with overseas buyers. Kutani wares of this period are distinguished by enamel scenes of birds and flowers, painted over the glaze after firing, and the generous use of gold and red. Here a resplendent gold peacock and peahen appear in a river landscape accompanied by peonies, hydrangea, iris, reeds, cranes, lotus, thistles, ferns and a willow tree.

    The base of each vase bears the mark of the Watano family, who successfully exported wares to Europe from Kōbe and Yokohama. Label on the base reads:

    大日本加賀国九谷 綿埜製造

    Dai Nippon Kaga Kuni Kutani watano seizo

    Made by Watano, Kutani, Kaga province, Great Japan

    In 1889, Watano Kichiji (1859 –1946) exhibited flower vases, tea cups and earthenware bowls at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle; this pair is probably also his work.mThese examples may have been purchased in Japan, for they bear a local label identifying them as ‘Number 48 / One Pair / 45 yen’.

    Both jars are visible in a photograph taken in January 1891 at Osborne House, where they were used as props in a Japanese tableau vivant performed by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and his family (see RCINs 2810106 and 2810107). The duke and his wife had visited Japan the previous spring, and it is possible that they purchased the jars at this time. During a trip to the Third National Industrial Exhibition in Tokyo, Mary Fraser noted that the duke bought ‘two splendid vases to take away to the Queen’, which may be these. However, the tableau at Osborne included lacquerware, metalwork and screens previously acquired by Queen Victoria, and it is possible the jars had likewise already entered the Royal Collection by other means. The photograph indicates they were used as plant pots at that date.

    The jars are heavily potted and ovoid, with sides tapering to the mouth, and shallow, broad-ringed foot with glazed central depression. Round the sides are painted a gilt peacock and peahen in a river landscape, with peonies, hydrangea, iris and reeds on the shore, and swallows and other birds in a stormy sky, below a band with formalised paulownia among geometric scrolls and flowers round the shoulder, and a chain of gilt pendentives at the rim. On RCIN 829.2, the peafowl are accompanied by cranes and peony, lotus, thistles, ferns and a willow tree.

    Text adapted from Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen: Volume II and Japan: Courts and Culture (2020)


    Probably acquired by Queen Victoria. In the Collection by 1891, when one of the pair is visible in a photograph of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and family in Japanese dress (RCIN 2810107). On 829.1 is a handwritten label which reads '222' and 'from Osborne 1911', and on 829.2, 'Corridor 257' and 'from Osborne'.

  • Medium and techniques

    Porcelain painted in iron-red and coloured enamels and gold


    45.3 x 44.3 x 44.3 cm (whole object)

    46.0 x 42.9 x 42.9 cm (whole object)