Japanese spirit, Western technology; explore the changing styles and techniques of Meiji decorative arts.
The production of ceramics in Japan increased significantly in response to the existence of an overseas export market after the 1850s. This built on the country's well-established pottery tradition, which included an important period during the 17th and 18th centuries when, for a time, Japan replaced China as the major producer of export porcelain for the West.
Influence of an overseas market
During the Meiji period, the potential for export to Western markets was a stimulus for innovations in style and technique. These were further influenced by new possibilities when working with Western fashions and technologies.
There is a distinction between the mass-produced, lower quality wares made for both the overseas and domestic markets and the high-end works that featured in the export and connoisseurs' markets. This latter group were often displayed at International Expositions and played a key role in promoting Japanese craftsmanship and skills to a wider audience.
Responsive to change
The majority of Meiji ceramics were porcelain or earthenware, and these were certainly the areas where the most interesting new developments occurred. The potters of the time were responsive to the changing fashions of both the domestic and international markets, which resulted in a wide variety of styles being produced, often simultaneously by different companies or workshops.
Jahn, Gisela, Meiji Ceramics; The Art of Japanese Export Porcelain and Satsuma Ware 1868-1912, Michael Foster, trans. & ed. (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2004)