Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Functional Beauty: Japanese Screens at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (and a DIY Table)

[Detail view, Six panel Japanese folding screen depicting arrival of a Portuguese ship 1620-1640; Medium: Ink, colors, and gold on paper; The Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.]

[Full view, Six panel Japanese folding screen 1620-1640; The Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.]

Continuing with pretty things that pull their weight around the house, a new exhibition, Beyond Golden Clouds: Five Centuries  of Japanese Screens, just opened at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Exploring the evolution of the folding screen, this show highlights 41 rarely seen large scale Japanese screens dating from the 16th century to the present. A portable, easy to change out decorative (and functional) piece, screens offered Japanese artists many options for creative expression. If you plan to be in San Francisco during the next few months, the exhibition is on view through January 16, 2011.

While the incredibly timeless 17th-century screen shown below is a specific piece included in the new fall show, the Museum collection example above caught my attention because, in a scene depicting Portuguese merchants trading in Japan, the artist has incorporated red lacquer ware -- objects exported by the Japanese.

[Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maples with Poem Slips, approx. 1654/81. By Tosa Mitsuoki (approx. 1617-1691). Pair of six-panel screens; ink, color, gold, and silver on silk. 
The Art Institute of Chicago, Kate S. Buckingham Endowment (1977.156-57)]

Whether it's authentic Asian lacquer or Asian leatherworks created to imitate lacquer finishes, I'm always lured in by these red boxes.

To say this is my latest DIY project is kind of cheating; my dad supplied the wood and built the stand (I supplied the specifications and inspiration pictures). Still, I wanted to share it because, with the holidays around the corner, this is a relatively simple way to get an extra bedside table with added storage space. And it's another option for enjoying a special box picked up at an antique stall.

[John Robshaw pillow reflected in background. Mirror is another Interiors Market find]

At this point, the table seems to be working well with the leather box not permanently attached. I'm still playing around with the finish (sharp-eyed readers no doubt see the current unevenness) but later I'll post pictures of the final results with more details.

Related past post: San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

[Coromandel Lacquer encoignure (Detail) by Mathieu Criaerd (circa 1689-1776, master in 1738) 
Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1745.Oak and softwood frame; Coromandel lacquer ; black varnish; gilded bronze; Spanish Brocatelle violette marble. STAMPED : M. CRIAERD. visible under the marble top. Image courtesy San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.]


Grant K. Gibson said...

I like the dark finish that you have. What a great idea!

Style Court said...

Oh Grant, I'm so glad. Trying to decide about sheen -- none, satin? It still needs more coats of stain.

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Love the table Courtney! How special to have your dad be able to make the base! I agree with Grant, great finish.

Style Court said...

Thank you Laura! Okay, so black it is :)

vicki archer said...

The dark base and the contrasting laquer box is so effective. You have created a fabulous piece of chinoiserie....xv

Emile de Bruijn said...

Great how the Japanese picked up on those 'exotic' Portuguese traits: the balloon trousers, the little hats, the moustaches. It's like chinoiserie in reverse.

Style Court said...

Emile -- I know! I found it fascinating. A lot to ponder in light of your ongoing series about perspectives, fantasy, interpretations and exoticism.

Style Court said...

Thank you Vicki! Now I jut have to decide how saturated to make it. I'd like to achieve a hand-rubbed feel.

scone said...

I have a few Japanese pictures, and one cabinet. Their POV is so different from anything in the West, they teach me something new every time I look at them.

home before dark said...

Another stunner. If your dad wants to adopt a 61 one year old daughter, let me know. What a great DAD!

Style Court said...

HBD --

Would be happy to have you as a sister :)

columnist said...

I have three Chinese "red" lacquered boxes that I kept from a line that I manufactured. They were built to store CDs. I've been wanting to have them on a stand for a very long time, and your post has reminded me that I've not done anything about it. Your looks great.

Style Court said...

Columnist -- thanks! CD storage is one of the great ways to use these. I'd love to see yours.