Zeshin's Farmhouse in the Snow sees new world record at $1.3m

The record price for a work of art by Japanese lacquer master Shibata Zeshin has been smashed in Bonhams' sale of the Misumi Collection in London.

Shibata Zeshin Lacquer Panel
Zeshin is especially popular with western collectors, incorporating compositional elements from European oil painting

Held on November 5, the collection offers important works of lacquer art and paintings, dominated by Shibata Zeshin, who was one of the foremost artists in the field.

Farmhouse in the Snow at Sano is one of Zeshin's most ambitious works and the only panel that depicts human figures. It made a hugely impressive £842,500, smashing the previous record for Zeshin's work - set a Bonhams in 2012 at £301,250 (481,060) - by 178.6%.

It had been expected to make up to £120,000.

The panel depicts scenes from the Noh play Hachi no ki, and depicts scenes from the famous production's plot.

It is one of the series of such large scale panels that Zeshin created towards the end of his career, following the success of a view of Mount Fuji that he displayed at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition.

The previous world record for Zeshin's work was held by one of his finely decorated inro

Zeshin was also known for his magnificent inro, small medicine cases that could be attached to the owner's clothing in place of pockets. The sale featured a number of exquisite pieces, including a £122,500 ($195,618) inro decorated with butterbur (bog rhubarb).

The piece, created by Zeshin in 1883, is said to represent spring, with the fresh shoots of the butterbur used to make miso paste or fried as temura at that time of year.

The netsuke (small carving used to attach the inro to clothing) also shows a giant clam with a palace emerging in gold, which is a reference to the "Clam's Dream", a Chinese story from the 1st century BC in which was huge clam breathes on the surface of the sea, making the shape of a city with buildings - a popular motif in 18th century Japan.

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