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An ovoid-shaped Chinese Ming period porcelain jar painted in rich blue around the sides with two five-clawed dragons among clouds and with rocks and waves below.  Round the shoulder a stylised shou (long life character) seems to grow out of the lotus

Extraordinary Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Royal Collection

Japan [Asia]

Box and cover c.1905-7

RCIN 29465

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Contacts between the royal families of Britain and Japan grew closer after an Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed in 1902. Several Japanese princes made visits to the United Kingdom, bringing gifts of contemporary lacquer, including cabinets and boxes by leading Japanese artists such as Akatsuka Jitoku (1871–1936) and Shirayama Shosai (1853–1923). This document box was given to the Princess of Wales, later Queen Mary (1867–1953), by Prince Fushimi, who visited London in May 1907. Fushimi had been sent to England to express the Emperor's gratitude to King Edward VII for his award of the Order of the Garter. The box is decorated with a rich background of gold flakes (known as nashiji) and flowers with mother-of-pearl petals. The years that followed saw an unprecedented British interest in Japanese art thanks to the Japan–British Exhibition in White City, London, in 1910, where much lacquer of this kind was exhibited.