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The story of Imari

This week we got some exciting new stock in, and several of the pieces I am adding are in the Imari style. People often ask me where it came from, so here goes...

The Imari style is a Japanese style on porcelain from the Arita area. The Japanese exported lots of this porcelain to China and Europe from the 17th and 18th Century through exclusive trade links with China, Portugal and The Netherlands - as Japan was otherwise a reclusive country. The wares were shipped out of the harbour of Imari, hence the name.⁠

As the trade relationships were so complicated, the Chinese then started copying this style in large numbers to satisfy demand in the West. So you can find many beautiful Chinese Imari designs on the so-called Chinese Export porcelain.⁠

Once English porcelain makers started to replace the imports from China, which had become troublesome themselves both because of political instability in China and the way the china dealers in London were rigging the auctions, the English let themselves loose on this style and created their own version.⁠.. creating a whole new wave of very creative designs, ultimately becoming more and more Victorian.

In the beginning the patterns remained very close to the originals, but gradually the style became more and more English, mixing in all kinds of Victorian details such as flower garlands and animals. My favourite Imari style is the early 19th Century English style, when decorators tried to stay very close to the Japanese originals yet they started to betray their English way of painting things: there is a pleasing softness about it while the original Japanese items often look more bold and strong; and sometimes certain shapes are unrecognisable because, in a world before air travel or even books, painters wouldn't have had the faintest idea what a lion, a tobacco plant or a dragon was supposed to look like...

You can see lots of my Imari items here, some of them newly added... and I will keep adding new stock over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the "This Week's New Treasures" section in my newsletters!

Where to find stock

You can find all my Imari items here, and you can find all my available items here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.

Happy weekend, and see if you can find a lion! 🦁


This week's new treasures:​



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