A selection of works by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891) will bring demons and legends to Bonhams' Fine Japanese Art sale on May 17, 2012.
A famous painter of the late Edo period, Zeshin was noted for his exquisite lacquer paintings. He invented the style known as Urushi-e, or "lacquer picture", and later became a popular technique in Japanese art.
The top lot of the sale will be a writing box from Zeshin, estimated at £150,000-180,000. The box has been beautifully adorned with a range of motifs relating to the Five Seasonal Festivals in Japan.
The lid features a silk winder and chrysanthemums, emblems of the Tanabata Festival in the seventh month of the seasonal calendar.
Another decorative item from Zeshin, featuring an elaborate floral design, is expected to achieve excellent results in the sale.
The traditional sealed case or "inro", would have been used to store small items and has an estimate of £65,000-75,000.
Expectations are high; Bonhams holds the current £265,250 world record for an inro, achieved in 2011.
The artist's renowned scroll paintings will attract strong interest from bidders, with his fantastically animated art in great demand with collectors. The auction will see the sale of an ink, colour and gold scroll depicting Shoki, a deity also known as the Demon Queller of Japan, glaring at a fleeing demon.
The British Museum currently has a similar Zeshin scroll painting on display, which was acquired while the artist was still alive in 1881.
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