Exquisitely decorated small pair of Meiji period Japanese Satsuma vases signed Hododa c1880. The vases are of footed hexagonal form with waisted neck and everted rim. Delicate ivory coloured ground with characteristically crackled transparent glaze. Finely overpainted with figural panels of garden scenes with kimono-clad female groups to one side and court related scenes to other. Detailed stylised floral and foliate painted decoration to borders and to shoulder. Painted signature to base for Hododa under the circular Shimazu clan mark. The vases are approximately 11.5 cm in height.
Prior to 1852 Japanese rulers followed a policy called Sakoku (closed country) which banned international travel and commerce. The USA, seeing benefit in open commercial trade, forced Japan to open-up its borders to Western countries. This resulted in the first major presentation of Japanese arts to the West at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867 – where items from the Satsuma province were showcased. These decorative items received great acclaim – driving the emergence of Japonism as a major influence on the Aesthetic Movement and subsequently on the Art Nouveau Movement. Rulers of Satsuma (the Shimazu clan) were quick to capitalise on this emerging popularity of Japanese ceramics. Satsuma production was expanded with producers adapting traditional nishikide Satsuma to create an export style that was thought to reflect foreign tastes. By 1873, ‘etsuke’ workshops specializing in decorating blank-glazed stoneware items from Satsuma had sprung up in Kobe and Yokohama. In places such as Kutani, Kyoto and Tokyo, workshops made their own blanks, eliminating any actual connection with Satsuma. By the early 1920s “Satsuma” had gone from being a mark of geographical origin to conveying an aesthetic – with more than twenty etsuke factories across Japan producing “Satsuma ware” of varying quality, as well as a number of independent studios still producing high-quality pieces.