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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

Japan [Asia]

Chest early seventeenth century

RCIN 39244

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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In the seventeenth century, Japanese goods made from ‘exotic’ materials such as porcelain and lacquer were eagerly sought by wealthy Europeans to furnish their homes. The mother-of-pearl decoration on this lacquer chest represents the earliest style exported from Japan to Europe at this time. The materials and the richness of the motifs was likely inspired by European taste; they can also be seen on objects produced for Europe in Gujarat on the western coast of India at that time.

This piece may have been commissioned by a member of an important Japanese dynasty because it bears large circular heraldic crests called mon which were restricted to elite families at this time. It was possibly a gift to a member of the Dutch or English India Companies who traded goods across the globe in this period.