Japanese - Wall Clock, 18th century


Wall Clock, 18th century

Lacquered wood, with gold decoration and copper alloy fittings, 40.5 cm (15 15/16 in.) height


Object details

Accession number



Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner at an auction by the Asian antiquities dealers Yamanaka and Company, Boston for an unknown price on 17-19 November 1904, lot 113.


Printed label fragment (affixed to back): 113. Old Japanese Clock / Case f teackwood; brass... / peony; ho-o bird and leaf... / date, about 1800 [Yamanaka and Company sale, 17-19 November 1904]
Printed label with Japanese character (affixed to back) inscribed: 302
Printed label with red border (affixed to back): illegible


Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 69.
Yasuko Horioka et al. Oriental and Islamic Art: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1975), pp. 85-86, no. 37, ill.
Alan Chong and Noriko Murai. Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2009), p. 414 fig. 13.

Rights and reproductions

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This wall clock was purchased from the antiquities dealer Yamanaka and Company. Founded by Yamanaka Sadajirō in New York City, Yamanaka and Company quickly became the preeminent Japanese art dealer beginning in the late 19th century and extending through the first half of the 20th century, opening branches all over the world, including Boston. This clock is made of lacquered tagayasan wood, an "ironwood" known for its strength. Among the gold flowers and animals decorating the surface, there is also a copper alloy fitting at the top of the clock with a design of passion flowers, or as they are known in Japan, "clock flowers" due to the circular shape and regularity of the petals. Interestingly, this wall clock does not, however, have a circular face, but rather a rectangular face with thirteen plaques set vertically into the wood; it was designed to tell traditional Japanese time, a system in which daytime and nighttime are divided into six unequal periods that varied with the seasons.


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