At the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873, when traditional crafts such as ceramics, cloisonne, and lacquer ware were exhibited from Japan, they received high praise from the Western countries. However, in preparation for the Philadelphia (1876) Expo in 1876, especially, Meiji kutani was required to have a design like a Japanese painting, and to be a craft with artistic and Japanese beauty and delicacy.
Ko kutani and revaival kutani in the Edo period were characterized by their unique painting, as it is said that “Kutani does not exist apart from painting.” Certainly, the painting on the body took the forms of each pattern of the center, the edge and the background, and the central pattern was more pictorial than a pattern, and it was a feature that sansui (mountain and water area), landscape, flowers and birds, peony, phoenix, geometric pattern, etc. were drawn in porcelain painting.
However, in the Meiji period, the designs were required to be closer to paintings, as they were called porcelain paintings. Painting of the Meiji period was born with the concept of “Japanese painting” as a synonym for western painting, and “Japanese painting” came to be considered as a painting that inherited traditional Japanese aesthetics and techniques such as the Kano school and Rinpa school. At the same time, it was advocated that “designing” was important in the production process of crafts, and Japanese artistic expression methods were incorporated into the design of porcelain, which was exhibited at the World Expo and exported in the early Meiji period.
In order to meet the demands of these times, a quick response was requested to incorporate Japanese-style artistic expression methods into Meiji kutani. For example, the Abe Hekikai Kiln in Kanazawa hired many excellent potters who studied Japanese painting, such as Kodera Chinzan, Haruna Shigeharu, Sasada Yuzan, Tsuda Nanhu, Shimizu Seikan, Iiyama Katei, and Kashiwa Kakei. After that, they became independent and master craftsmen of Meiji kutani. And in Nomi area, Kameta Sangetsu draw a picture-like painting of the Kano school and “bamboo and sparrow” and “peony flower” like in Japanese painting on the back surface. As typical example, Ishida Ichigo in Nomi learned Japanese painting from Japanese painter, Tanaka Ikka in Kyoto. And then he returned home to become independent as Japanese painter and he started the painting business of kutani at the recommendation of the surroundings. Many of the works were painted like Japanese paintings.
This website gallery posts a work by Haruna Shigeharu from among the many masterpieces by master craftsmen.