Cat-form Ewer, Arita, Japanese, c. 1690, enameled porcelain, 7 inches high.
The sweet upturned expression and bright splashes of colors make this cat universally appealing, the face, elegantly detailed with minimalist strokes of the brush, and posture modeled with paw raised make it uniquely Japanese. The form and coloring is similar to that which is found on puppies of the Edo period made for export. The ceramic industry in the town of Arita began in 1616 with the discovery of kaolin, a high-quality clay used in the production of fine porcelains. Imari porcelain decorated in cobalt blue, orange red and gold is the best-known style developed in Arita and is prized worldwide.