Ogata Kenzan - Tea Bowl (Cha-wan), 19th century

Style of Ogata Kenzan (Kyoto, 1663 - 1743, Kyoto)

Okakura Tea Set: Tea Bowl (Cha-wan) with Design of Cormorant Fishing ("Summer tea bowl"), 19th century

Ceramic with cobalt and iron pigments under clear glaze; broken and repaired with gold-sprinkled lacquer, 6.4 x 12.8 cm (2 1/2 x 5 1/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Gift from Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913), Japanese art historian and philosopher, to Isabella Stewart Gardner, 11 September 1905.


Inscribed (base of bowl): Kenzan


William Thrasher and Caroline Graboys. "The Beginnings of Chanoyu in America." Chanoyu Quarterly (1984), pp. 20, 22, 24, 28, ill. (as attributed to Ogata Kenzan, 1663-1743)
Sunao Nakamura (ed.). Okakura Kakuzo: Collected English Writings, III (Tokyo, 1984), pp. 61-63, 58-59.
Victoria Weston. East Meets West: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Okakura Kakuzo. Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum V. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1992), p. 28.
Rebecca G. Breslow. "Humanity in a Tea-cup: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Okakura Kakuzo" in Chanoyu Quarterly: Tea and the Arts of Japan, No. 85 (1996), pp. 51-53.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 176-77.
Louise Allison Cort. "Mrs. Gardner's 'Set of Tea-Things.' A Vehicle for Friendship, Power, & Aesthetic Instruction" in Alan Chong and Noriko Murai. Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2009), pp. 386, 394-95, fig 10. (as Japanese, style of Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743), dated 19th century)

Rights and reproductions

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Although the box inscription and the signature on the base of the bowl itself represent the bowl as the work of the famed Kyoto ceramic artist Kenzan, it is no understood to be a later work in the pervasive and enduring Kenzan style. The bowl had been broken in Japan and repaired with gold-sprinkled lacquer. The motif of cormorant fishing suits this bowl to use in the summer months when cormorant fishing takes place on Japanese rivers, but in modern usage it would be classified not as a "summer tea bowl" but as a bowl for preparation of "thin tea" (usucha). It may have been made originally as part of a set of lidded bowls for serving food.

Source: Louise Allison Cort, "Mrs. Gardner's 'Set of Tea-Things,'" in in Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia, edited by Alan Chong and Noriko Murai (Boston: ISGM and Gutenberg Periscope, 2009): 395.


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