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Romatsu pines rise up on the clouded surface, like ghosts in the fog opposite whispy trails of a poem on the side of this chawan by female potter Suwa Sozan II and decorated by female painter Uemura Shoen. It is 4 inches (10.5 cm) diameter, 3 inches (8 cm) to the rim and is in fine condition. The bowl is stamped on the base Sozan in a circular ring, and signed on the side Kinko Shoen Me and comes enclosed in a period wooden box.
Sozan I (1852-1922) was born in Kutani country, present day Ishikawa prefecture, where he initially studied before moving to Tokyo in 1875. Over the next 25 years he would gravitate between Tokyo and Kanazawa, working at various kilns and research facilities. He again relocated, this time to Kyoto in 1900 to manage the Kinkozan Studio before establishing his own. His name became synonymous with celadon and refined porcelain and was one of only five potters to be named Teishitsu Gigei-in. The Teishitsu Gigei-in were members of the Imperial Art Academy, Perhaps in modern terms one might call them the predecessors to the Living National Treasures. However unlike the LNT, there were only five Pottery artists ever named Teishitsu Gigei-in, Ito Tozan, Suwa Sozan, Itaya Hazan, Miyagawa Kozan, and Seifu Yohei III. He was succeeded by his adopted daughter upon his death. Sozan Torako was born in Kanazawa in 1890, and was soon adopted by her uncle, Suwa Sozan I. Her ceramics resemble those of Sozan I, but are considered to be more graceful and feminine. Torako assumed the family name upon her uncles death in 1922. She is held in the collection of the Imperial Household Agency among others. The third Sozan (1932-2005) was born in Kyoto, and studied initially under Living National Treasures Tomimoto Kenkichi and Kondo Yuzo. He received the name Suwa Sozan III in 1970, and has lived up to its prestigious following with a variety of works bringing prizes and exhibitions both International and domestic. These include the Kofukai Prize, The Nitten, and the Kyoten Governors Prize among many others.
Uemura Shoen (1875-1949) was a rare painter at turn of the century Meiji Japan, a single mother and perhaps the most successful female artist in Japan. She was raised in an all female house as well, her mother being a tea aficionado. She studied painting under a succession of teachers, starting under Suzuki Shonen at the Kyoto prefectural School of Painting, and then Kono Bairei and Takeuchi Seiho. Widely exhibited in her lifetime, she was made a member of the Imperial Art Academy in 1944, the first woman to receive such an honor. Her works line the walls of too many museums to list here, including the Museum of Modern Art both Kyoto and Tokyo, Osaka Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston etc.