Antique Japanese Bronze Samurai and Geisha

By mwilcox


Antique Japanese bronze figures like this tend to date from the early years of the 20th Century, during the Taishō period (1912 to 1926). This set appears to depict a Samurai and a Geisha, popular subjects by Japanese Artists of the period, which by this time were becoming fading memories of the 19th Century. Japanese metal workers originally produced decorative pieces for the elite classes, the Samurai being the biggest market for decorative artwork on weapons. The Samurai class lost its privileged position when the Samurai class were banned from carrying swords in 1867 and Feudalism was officially abolished in 1871 . Artisans were forced to find new markets and turned to the Decorative Arts market, which expanded rapidly by the end of the 19th Century.

Bronze is very resistant to environmental damage as it develops a protective patina over time. Some pieces are actually chemically treated to bring out this aged weathered look as part of their original design. Pieces like this should be left “as is”, and never polished. Values for them depend on the quality of the casting and the Artist's mark, unmarked examples tend to be “Made for Export” pieces. While not mass produced , they were made in fairly large numbers to fill the West's demand for Japanese Artwork. In the current market a pair like this could sell at auction in the $350.00- $500.00 range.