An export Imari porcelain spirit keg

First half of the 18th century, Japan

Height: 36.5 cm, 14.37 inches

The spirit keg is modelled as a drunk and cheerful open mouthed Dutch Man sitting astride a barrel, holding a bottle in his raised left hand and a glass in the other. The barrel is decorated on the front with a peony flanked by spraying plants and a ridged hole for a tap (which would have been made in Europe in silver this is now missing). The barrel rests on a hollow rectangular base modelled at the front with volutes and the head of a shishi in a cartouche, in turn resting on a plinth decorated with a zigzag pattern band. The detachable head is surmounted by a cap adorned with some foliate and petal shaped pompoms, his cuffs and legs decorated with single prunus blossoms, and his coat with cloud motifs and foliate sprays, all painted in under glaze blue, iron-red, green, aubergine, black and gold.

Ceramic figures on barrels were popular ‘follies’ in the Netherlands and other European countries. A variety of such figures were made in Delft factories in blue and white as well as in polychrome from the early 18th century. This figure is a Japanese export porcelain example made in imitation of the comparable Dutch Delft wares.

Similar Examples

‘Fine & Curious- Japanese Export Porcelain in Dutch Collections’, Christiaan J. A. Jörg, Hotei Publishing 2003, figure 364-365, p.288-289.

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