Miyashita Zenji Kyo Saidei Chawan | Masterwork

Potter: Miyashita Zenji

Approximate size: W4.3″ by H3.7″ or 11.0 by 9.4 cm

Miyashita Zenji

This is a rare and valuable chawan by the distinguished artist Miyashita Zenji (1939-2012). As the eldest son of master potter and porcelain artist Miyashita Zenju (1901-1968), he went to Kyoto Municipal University of Arts and studied under the Living National Treasure potters Tomimoto Kenkichi and Kondo Yūzō. This chawan was made with the saidei technique (coloured-clay overlay). Saidei is the technique in which Miyashita Zenji applied extremely thin layers of delicately gradated coloured clay in irregular bands to cover the surface of each sculptural vessel or form, transforming the surfaces into distant hills, drifting clouds or rolling waves. From what I’ve seen it seems that most of his works, especially saidei work were vases, where there is more surface area to work with. In this case there are numerous layers applied on a simple looking form. The colour gradient of this chawan seems to be depicting land and sea.

Works by Miyashita Zenji are held in the Freer-Sackler, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, and the Brooklyn Museum the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and of course the National Museums of Modern Art both in Kyoto and Tokyo among a host of others. A more comprehensive list below.

His mature work was a modern embodiment of a classic Kyoto mode associated with the Heian period (794–1185). He applied delicate layers of colour — reminiscent of multilayered court robes or decorated papers made for inscribing poetry — using not over-glaze enamels or glazes but clay itself, dyed with mineral pigments.

Sackler Art Museum

Early in his career he started working with celadon which is considered to be one of the most difficult glazes as it relies on shape and extreme control of firing to result in perfect pieces. He worked with and was inspired by artists like Yagi Kazuo, Suzuki Osamu and Kiyomizu Kyūbey. Miyashita was affiliated with Seitōkai and the Nitten group (starting in 1964), exhibiting in their annual competitions, which he won 18 times. His works have been included in exhibitions throughout the world and were acquired by major museums in Japan, the US and Europe. It is no exaggeration to say he was one of the most famous potters of Japan.

Works by Miyashita Zenji are held in public collections of museums worldwide. Foremost are his vases — chawan are seldom seen

Aichi Prefectural Museum, Japan
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand
British Museum, London, UK
Brooklyn Museum, NY
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN
Japan Foundation, New York, NY
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Japan
Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives, Japan
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
Musée Cernuschi, Paris, France
Musée des Arts Décoratif, Paris, France
Musée National de Cèramique, Sèvres, France

Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo, Japan
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan
Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan
Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, Japan
National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, DC
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan
Newark Museum, NJ
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA
Portland Museum of Art, OR
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada
St. Louis Museum of Art, MO
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan
Spencer Art Museum, Lawrence, KS
Stiftung Keramion, Frechen, Germany
Worcester Art Museum, MA

The chawan bears the master’s seal and condition is mint. Comes complete with the original high quality shiho san paulownia tomobako or storage box with kiln stamp, calligraphy & artist signature on the lid and a dedicated tomonuno or tea-cloth. A masterpiece in the style that is unique to this artist and for which he is rightly famed and remembered for. The only saidei chawan I have ever seen by this artist.


Thank you very much!