Vase in a
tall, ovoid form encircled in relief with stylized, modernist waves and
three flying fish. Of cast and patinated hakudō
or white bronze, the darkened areas on the waves realized in a
yaki-urushi or baked lacquer finish. Signed on the reverse with a cast,
seal-form signature by the artist: Chūroku (Neya
Chūroku, 1897 – 1987). Shōwa 15 or 1940.
was purchased from the Hattori commissioning house in either the Ginza,
Tōkyō or from their branch in Osaka. Engraved on the reverse of the
vase is this inscription: Oyu Wai Uchida Keizo Dono, Koki
Ni-sen-roppyaku-nen, Omachi Kitazō or An Auspicious Gift for
Lord Uchida Keizo, on the 2600th Imperial Year (1940), (given by)
With the tomobako or original
box, inscribed on the exterior of the lid: Hakudō Kabin,
Yū Hi or White Bronze Vase, (with a design of) Flying Males;
and on the reverse of the lid signed: Chūroku Saku or Made by
Chūroku, and sealed: Chūroku. With the red and white
printed label for K. Hattori & Co applied to the interior of
the box lid.
An Osaka artist, Neya Chūroku graduated from the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakkō
(Tokyo School of Fine Arts). Like that of his teacher, Tsuda Shinobu,
Chūroku’s work displays stylized flowing lines with angular
counterpoint. Chūroku first participated in the national art
exhibitions with the 9th Teiten in 1928. He continued with the 10th
– 15th Teiten from 1929 – 1934, winning the tokusen
or grand prize at the last one. In 1936, he showed at the Bunten
Kansaten and the following year was granted mukansa or non-vetted
status at the 1st Shin-Bunten. He also showed at the 2nd, 3rd and 5th
Shin-Bunten in 1938, 1939, and 1942, as well as at the Senji
Tokubetsuten in 1944. Chūroku was also invited to participate in the
1933 World Exposition in Chicago.
For other pieces by Chūroku, c.f. Kagedo’s catalogue Breaking Light, number
118 for his 1932 Teiten exhibition piece.
Though Neya Chūroku created a number of small vases with
flying fish and waves, we have only seen this one piece cast on such an
impressive scale. Hattori & Company began as a commissioning
house during the Meiji era, specializing in silver, bronzes, fine
clocks and artworks. By the 1930s they were one of the most prestigious
shops in all of Tōkyō. Hattori later became Wakō, still one of the most
exclusive, small department stores on the Ginza.
Neya Chūroku shades the waves against the warm glow of the
bronze in rippling diagonals. Cast in softly rounded relief, their
intervals shorten as they recede against the curve of the vase upwards
into the distance. Three stylized flying fish vault over the surface in
high relief, one gliding in pursuit as the others rise and fall over
16” high x 10” diameter.