Japanese Ornate Leather Picture Frame

In our collection we have this Japanese picture frame from the 19th century.

The work is detailed and small scaled, it’s beautifully done with finesse and métier. The colors have faded and blend nicely into one another. Yet I’m convinced that even when newly done the color scheme would have been a well-balanced one.

It’s a precious and unusual object I have not seen any other alike. Having said that, it could well be that in other areas of this small planet there are plenty of them and that they are regarded as a banality. I you happen to be there and know more do not hesitate to share your thoughts.

The picture frame has a book shape and you will notice on the front the heavily ornate hinges. To me they look like  Spanish or Portuguese baroque items.           

 They have no function but to add some Kitsch to the ensemble, it’s more likely that they’ve been added to please an international clientele.

There must be descriptions if this sort of designs somewhere out there but I couldn’t find any.

 You can se for yourself, here’s my attempt.

 It’s a geometrical pattern of squares and lozenges. In the two opposite corners of the squares, there are again squares and the other two opposite corners there are sort of circular flower ornaments. The whole surface is ornate with small geometrical patterns on which they have disposed raised floral ornaments. It’s all a bit over the top, one could use the term Horror Vacui.


Again the design is small scaled and the mould to produce this sort of pattern doesn’t need to be big I can imagine it    being 50 X 50 cm.

The pattern itself must be inspired from a fabric or, why not, the other way around.

Your expertise is welcome to enlighten us.

In all western literature on leather craft I have found but one illustration of such a work it’s in a reference work called Leather Craft from Henri Clouzot edited in 1920, soon a century ago… the fragment is conserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris.  Some similar leather panels are in the collection of Hermes Paris  aswell.

Best Wishes



4 thoughts on “Japanese Ornate Leather Picture Frame

    1. Dear Ben,
      Thank you for your offer, I look forward to see the leather panel.
      Best Wishes

    1. Dear Sunao,
      Thank you for your comment and thanks a lot for the compliments too.
      What amazes me is that the only thing I was certain of about this object is the fact that it’s made of leather. And here you come and questions this only certainty.
      Having said that. The material has not been analyzed thus the mystery remains.
      What pleads into he favor of leather is well visible in the leather patch that has the function of a hinge; here the painted and decorated top layer is worn and you can see the underlying material. the color of this material is reddish which could point in the direction of a vegetal tanned leather which stains this sort of color by the action of UV light or under the action of a sort of illness called red-rot quite common with ancient vegetal leather.
      the vegetal tanned leather is used amongst other because it keeps well the embossing. Also its worth noting that the sample form the Hermes collection is considered to be made of leather
      Well I’ve been seeing the site of the museum but besides the home page which is available in the language of Shakespeare the rest of the site is in Japanese unquestionably a beautiful language which unfortunately I don’t master at all.
      I also saw your site and wish to congratulate you and your team.
      If you give ma a name and address I’ll happily send you a sample big enough to make something from. well if you like.
      Thanks again
      Best wishes form France

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