Sir Merton and Lady Russell-Cotes travelled to Australia in 1884, then on to New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii, Fiji, San Francisco and finally, Japan. Whilst there they amassed a superb collection of Japanese works of art, which can be seen today at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth. In 2003 the museum asked us to conserve a large number of objects for a special exhibition, a selection of which can be seen below.
The craftsmanship displayed in these objects is astonishing. Most were structurally in good condition, however the surfaces of the various objects required careful cleaning. The cleaning revealed detail and beauty which could not be seen previously, though the objects had been on display since 1921. For example, a small pagoda was found to be covered in darkened gold paint. When this was removed, silver, copper and gilt inlay appeared and it was discovered that the pagoda was made from recycled sheets of metal containing impressed Buddhist text.
Above: Large iron dish, by Komai of Kyoto, Meiji Period, 1880-1890
Above: Tabakobon (smoking cabinet), Edo Period, early 19th Century
Above: Pair of Abumi (stirrups), Edo Period, late 18th - early 19th Century
Above: Pagoda Cabinet, by Komai of Kyoto, Meiji Period, 1880-1890
Above: Koro (incense burner) in the form of a silver elephant, by Nakagawa Yoshizane, Meiji Period, late 19th Century
Above: Koro (incense burner), in the form of a large cockerel on a drum, Edo Period, C.1850-1860
Above: Shrine in the form of a pagoda, Meiji Period, 1880-1900
Above: Pair of 'trumpet-mouthed' vases, Meiji Period, C.1900
Above: Pair of large bronze vases, Meiji Period, 1850-1890
Above: Iron plaque with battle scene by Komai of Kyoto, Meiji Period, 1880-1890
Above: Kozuka (hilts of small knives), Edo and Edo-Meiji Periods