Box with fitted cover

Historical period(s)
Edo period, 17th century
Lacquer on wood with lead and mother of pearl
H x W x D (overall): 23.2 x 29.1 x 24.6 cm (9 1/8 x 11 7/16 x 9 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer


Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, mask, Noh, plum blossom

To 1903
Charles Gillot (1853-1903), Paris, to 1903 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from the sale of the Charles Gillot Collection, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Paris, through Yamanaka Sadajiro (of Yamanaka & Company), in 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See S.I. 8, Original Miscellaneous List, pg. 17, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] After his death in 1903, a sale of Asian art belonging to French artist Charles Gillot took place in February 1904 at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris. Yamanaka Sadajiro (of Yamanaka and Co.) attended the sale and annotated the sales catalogue (which is now in the Freer and Sackler Library) on Charles Lang Freer's behalf (see Curatorial Remark 8, Louise Cort, July 11, 2001, in the object record). Also, see note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Gillot (C.L. Freer source) 1853-1903
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Branches of blossoming plum in contrasting inlays of lead and luminous mother-of-pearl form a continuous design that extends over the sides and lid of this box.  Koetsu's (1558–1637) innovations in lacquer designs are well documented.  The decoration on this box, however, appears to have been based not on an original design by Koetsu, but on the motifs printed in mica on the covers of the woodblock-printed libretti for No performances that were produced after 1604 by the wealthy merchant and scholar Suminokura Soan (1571–1632), in collaboration with Koetsu.  The books displayed in this care are examples of the books, known as Sagabon, published by Soan and often based on Koetsu's calligraphy and designs.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 112, vol. 2: p. 181.
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 10, p. 24.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 92.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 124, fig. 85.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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