Lacquer screen carved in the Choshitsu technique
Japan, Showa period, 1940s-50s
A four-panel screen, decorated in the choshitsu (carved lacquer) technique on a wooden backing. The screen shows an elaborate scene of a setting sun on the edge of a lake, seen from behind a multitude of leafless trees. The trees are executed in black against a yellow and cream background. The setting sun is shown in the top right-hand corner as a large, glowing bright red halo, and the water of the lake is depicted in yellow and blue.
There is no signature on this screen. One of the greatest exponents of the choshitsu (carved lacquer) technique is the artist Otomaru Kodo, who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1955. In choshitsu, dozens of layers of coloured lacquer are painted on to a plain surface. Then, a carving blade is used to carve into these layers and make three-dimensional relief carvings. This technique originated in China about 800 years ago.