Japanese cloisonné enamels at the V&A

This is a long-term display due to finish very soon, small but jewel-like, and definitely worth looking in on if you happen to be in SW7 – perhaps if you visit the current V&A blockbuster, British Design 1948-2012, which itself finishes on 12 August. On a trip to China back in 1999, we had a hectic tour round a cloisonné workshop near Beijing, but that was mainly a retail opportunity, part of our action-packed China Travel Service itinerary. The quietly stunning beauty of these Japanese enamels is something else altogether. The Meiji period (1868-1912) saw increased production of cloisonné enamel objects for export,giving rise to the Golden Age between 1880 and 1914, a time of great technical innovation. A leading exponent was Hayashi Kodenji, represented here by some seductive pieces that feature his characteristic rich, dark-blue ground, decorated with exquisite designs of birds, flowers or butterflies in lighter shades.

Japanese Enamels: the Seven Treasures
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
14 June 2011 to 19 August 2012

Above: Vase. Hayashi Kodenji. ca. 1880-1885. Cloisonné enamel.  Victoria and Albert Museum. Image: Victoria and Albert Museum, at http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1192944/vase-kodenji-hayashi/