Asian Art

The Asian art in the Alfred O. Deshong Collection of Widener University includes 55 Japanese bronzes. Of these are 12 very fine Japanese Meiji period inlaid, carved, and patinated bronze vases from the Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha (Company for the Establishment of Industry and Commerce), Tokyo, 1874-1890, by various designers, "hammerers," and sculptors (including inlay artists).

The Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha (Company for the Establishment of Industry and Commerce) of Tokyo was founded in 1874 by Matsuo Gisuke and Kensabura Wakai (and later Tadamasa Hayashi) with the purpose of manufacturing high-level craft articles of many types (including bronze, cloisonné, ceramics, lacquer, etc.). The impetus for the founding of such a firm appears to have been the keen interest shown by Europeans for Japanese products at the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873.

For, shortly following this exhibition, the British asked the Japanese government to cooperate with a British firm (Alexander Park Co.) in rebuilding the Japanese pavilion on a site in London. They agreed, but the reluctance of the Japanese government to become directly involved in the manufacture and sale of works of art led to the establishment of an independent (although government-backed) firm to do this. Thus the Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha was born.

Other items in the collection include Japanese carved ivory figures, Chinese carved hardstone vessels, and Japanese and Chinese lacquerware.