Shibata Zeshin masterpieces star in Misumi Collection auction

Bonhams will sell masterpieces from Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin as part of its sale of the Misumi Collection of Important Works of Lacquer Art and Paintings on November 5 in London.

Shibata Zeshin Lacquer Panel
Shibata Zeshin isn't popular in Japan, though Western collectors eagerly snap up his quintessentially Japanese works

The auction is highlighted by the Zeshin works, nine of which featured in a 2012 exhibition at Tokyo's Nezu Museum.

Leading bids is a rare lacquer panel created in 1883, which shows scenes from a Noh play and is based on canvas painting in the West, which were becoming popular in Japan at the time. A stunning piece in silver on black, it is estimated to bring up to £120,000 ($194,895).

Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891) was a famous artist in Japan, though he was generally regarded as both too modern, due to catering for Western tastes, and a traditionalist who did not stand out.

He is highly regarded in the West today, with collectors paying top prices for his quintessentially Japanese style.

He is best known for his intricate inro (miniature cases, used for holding objects such as medicine), and several examples will feature in the sale. Highlighting is an inro in the form of a rustic hut, which contains a box depicting Shoki the Demon-queller.

A noted piece among collectors, it is valued at £60,000-80,000 ($98,804-129,072).

A Shibata Zeshin work currently holds the record for an inro sold at auction, with an example valued at £20,000-30,000 selling for £301,250 ($486,037) at Bonhams in 2012.

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