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In 1613, the Clove, a ship of the English East India Company, arrived in Japan bearing gifts for the Japanese shogun. Upon its return to England, bearing gifts from the shogun to King James I, among them a group of lacquer wares which were sold at what is believed to be the first auction of Japanese works of art ever held in London – on 20th December 1614. The sale was conducted using a candle – bids were accepted while there was still an inch of candle alight.
Christie’s is now proud to present Japanese Art for the English Court which focuses on Japanese works of art relating to trade, on offer from the 8th through the 19th of December, almost exactly 400 years to the day when the historic auction occurred. Included on offer are fine blue & white and coloured Japanese ceramics and a selection of books and lacquer pieces, the same of which were made for the grand palaces of Europe and offered “at the candle” in 1614.