COLLECTIONS: CLOISONNE

I have always been fascinated with cloisonné. I don’t have a collection but several of my friends do…I wanted to share a sampling of one of those collections.

The definition of cloisonné is “a colored decoration made of enamels poured into the divided areas in a design outlined with wire or metal strips.” A very simplistic way of describing such beautiful objects.

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imageTwo of my small “boxes” to show the intricacy of the enamel flowing into the wire outlines.

I found the quote below from the site www.cloisonné.com to be very informative:

“Cloisonné, French for “cell”, where thin wires are applied to form raised barriers, which contain different areas of enamel applied above the original metal form. An ancient metalworking technique, it is a multi-step enamel process used to produce jewelry, vases, and other decorative items. Objects produced by this process are also called cloisonné.

Cloisonné first developed in the Near East. It spread to the Byzantine Empire and from there along the Silk Road to China. Chinese cloisonné is probably the most well known and ubiquitous. Russian cloisonné from the Tsarist era is highly prized by collectors. Chinese cloisonné is sometimes confused with Canton enamel, a similar type of enamel work that is painted on freehand and does not utilize partitions to hold the colors separate.”

imageFrom Mark and Linda Heister’s exquisite home, in their theater, a curated collection of cloisonné.  I was with them on an antiquing adventure when they found the fabulous lamp and am honored to say the egg and stand were in my humble collection and is now part of theirs!

imageAlso from the same home, this grouping is on a shelf in front of the TV screen and emphasizes their black ground collection punctuated with a lacquer red dish. All the above photos were taken by me with my iPhone.

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A close up of a piece from the Heister’s collection.  Photo by Linda Heister.

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A pair from the Heister’s growing collection.  Photo by Linda Heister.

imageI love the shape of this piece, you see it in the second grouping.  Photo by Linda Heister.

imageFrom Linda’s Mother’s collection.  Photo by Linda Heister.

imageMy favorite, one of a pair from Linda’s parents when they lived in Japan 68 years ago, pre war prior to 1941, elegance personified!  Photo by Linda Heister.

In addition, I would recommend searching museum sites such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York www.metmuseum.org and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London www.vam.ac.uk among others.

Suggested readings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website:

Brinker, Helmut, and Albert Lutz. Chinese Cloisonné: The Pierre Uldry Collection. New York: Asia Society Galleries, 1989.

Brown, Claudia. Chinese Cloisonné: The Clague Collection. Phoenix: Phoenix Art Museum, 1980.

Garner, Harry. Chinese and Japanese Cloisonné Enamels. London: Faber & Faber, 1962.

Leidy, Denise, et al. Chinese Decorative Arts. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. See on MetPublications

Rawson, Jessica, et al. The British Museum Book of Chinese Art. London: British Museum Press, 1992.

Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Till, Barry, and Paula Swart. Antique Chinese Cloisonné. Victoria, B.C.: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1983.

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A cloisonné rooster to celebrate the year of the rooster!  Isn’t he extraordinary!

Photo credit unknown.

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