SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

A Secret Beauty: Study Day on Japanese Lacquer

Specialist Art Course

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: 13 July 2019

1 day 09.45 – 16.00

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Fees: Fee: £150


Lacquer has a long history in Japan, stretching back over 9,000 years. It is the sap from the tree Toxicodendron vernicifluum which is native to East Asia. After processing, it is applied to a prepared surface, most commonly wood. As well as providing a hard and glossy surface, the numerous decorative lacquer techniques result in many different and often stunning surface effects. Maki-e (sprinkled picture), the quintessential Japanese lacquer technique which first appeared in the 8th century, involves sprinkling metal or coloured powders onto lacquer.

As a focal point of this study day, the exhibition A Secret Beauty: The Spirit of Japanese Maki-e - The Lacquer Work of Koyanagi Tanekuni will also be taking place at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS. This course will provide an ideal opportunity to examine and explore the lacquer medium and the maki-e technique, its care and conservation, contemporary lacquer, as well as a gallery talk by the lacquer artist Koyanagi Tanekuni.


  • Maki-e: The Essence of Japanese Lacquerware – Mrs Julia Hutt
  • Urushi: Care & Case Studies from the Victoria & Albert Museum – Ms Dana Melchar
  • Social Capacity for the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Modern Japan – Dr Sumiko Sarashima
  • Reception of Lacquer in the West – Mr Simon Pilling
  • Viewing of Exhibition and Gallery Talk: A Secret Beauty: The Spirit of Japanese Maki-e – Mr Koyanagi Tanekuni


For details contact Denise Acford

Tel: 020 7898 4451