Minton for the Meiji Emperor: dining and diplomacy in nineteenth-century Japan

Third Thursday Lectures
Thursday 20 Aug 2015 | 6 pm

Weston Room, Norwich Cathedral Hostry

Mary Redfern
PhD candidate, University of East Anglia


Detail of dessert plate with Japanese imperial crest Tsuji workshop, Arita, Meiji-era (1868–1912) Kyushu Ceramic Museum, Hakuu Collection

Detail of dessert plate with Japanese imperial crest,  Tsuji workshop, Arita, Meiji-era (1868–1912). Kyushu Ceramic Museum, Hakuu Collection

About the Lecture

The richness of Japan’s ceramic heritage has long captivated attention, contributing both to the development of European porcelains and art movements such as Japonisme. However, it is rare that we hear about the objects that travelled in the other direction, ceramics that made their way like coals to Newcastle from the factories of Europe to the dining tables of Japan. The appearance of a Japanese imperial crest on a Minton coffee cup, however, demands our attention. In the age of the international exhibition, where craft and nation intertwined, why might the Meiji Emperor have chosen to use British bone china? Considering these objects and the banquets at which they were used, this lecture will explore the strategies at play in the setting of the emperor’s table.

About the Speaker

Soon to submit her thesis on Japanese imperial tableware of the early Meiji era at the University of East Anglia, Mary Redfern has spent the last four years following the tracks and traces of tableware produced for the Meiji Emperor through archives and collections across Japan and Europe. Graduating with an MA in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, Mary worked as Assistant Curator for East Asian collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Museum of Scotland and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery before coming to Norwich to begin her doctoral studies. In October this year, Mary will return to the museum world as Curator for the East Asian Collections at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

To book your seat, please go to the booking form or email the Sainsbury Institute

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About the Third Thursday Lectures

The Third Thursday Lectures hosted by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures are on a range of topics related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential. To book your seat, please go to the booking form or email the Sainsbury Institute

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The lecture will be held at the Weston Room, Cathedral Hostry, Norwich NR1 4DH.

The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Yakult and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

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Future Lectures

17 September 2015 | Dr Damian Flanagan

Who Killed Yukio Mishima? Time and Destiny in the Life and Work of Japan’s Master Author and Playwright

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16 October 2015 | Leiko Ikemura

Title: TBC

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Third Thursday Lectures is a monthly lecture series supported by