During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the reclusive island nation of Japan became internationally recognised for one treasured product beyond all others: Imari porcelain. White porcelain bowls, plates, bottles, utensils and ornamental figurines, exquisitely finished with translucent glazed colours and gold enamels, were distributed throughout Japan and beyond to the cultural centres of Asia and Europe.

Decorated with birds and flowers alongside auspicious symbols and mythological animals, Imari ware appealed to the Japanese love of the natural world and belief in the supernatural, while Imari’s highly decorative designs, floret shapes and use of gold to enhance exotic colourful designs enchanted the aristocratic classes of Europe and the rulers of Asian kingdoms.

This, the first major exhibition of Imari ware in Australia, displays leading examples of Imari kinrande wear, Kakiemon ware and Hirado ware. Many of these works are the only examples of their design in existence or are comparable to pieces in leading Japanese museums. The funds to acquire this collection were generously donated to the Gallery by the connoisseur and philanthropist Mrs Pauline Gandel.