Clock Inro Front Clock Inro Rear

Pocket-watch inro
Goto Yoshinori and Kofu saku

Length: 4 in. (10 cm), Japan, early 19th c (Edo Period)

Time is of the essence ...

Time is of the essence when viewing this spectacular and unique Japanese inro. The theme of time decorates the exterior of the inro, which contains a Swiss timepiece. The finest multi-metalwork and art lacquer form dynamic depictions of the twelve animals of the Asian zodiac.

In this rare example, the European craft and design of the pocket-watch has been incorporated into a revered Japanese art form. Specifically commissioned to create a case for the watch, two Japanese masters of their artistic media crafted a beautifully designed container to complement this valued item. The artist Kofu has formed several of the animals and the landscape scenes with gold and silver lacquer in the techniques of takamakie (relief lacquer), hiramakie (single-layer lacquer), and kirimakie (hand-placed lacquer flakes). The artist Yoshinori, from the famed Goto school of metalworkers, completes the set of twelve with inlay of intricately sculpted gold, silver, and prized shakudo (an alloy of gold and copper that patinates to a rich blue-black tome).

The excitement of viewing such refined and inspired work is enhanced by the magnificent condition of the set for an early 19th century artwork. Amazingly, the pocket-watch still functions and retains its original winding key.