Today we’ll take a second look at the work of Echizen Hosui, and take a look at the subtle difference between a Copy, a Forgery, and an Homage. For our first look at Hosui, you can look back here:
Echizen Hosui was born Zenzo Yoshida in Fukui prefecture in 1936, and began making bonsai containers in 1974. It’s quite clear from his work that idolizes many of the greatest artists of Bonsai pottery, including Tofukuji, Yusen, and Aiso. Today we’re going to take a look at some containers that are marked as Hosui, and some that were made by Hosui, but marked as the work of Tofukuji. I don’t think these containers were meant to be forgeries, as enough clues were left for the discerning eye to distinguish them as copies. However, every pottery collector should be aware that such copies exist, and be able to distinguish between them and the real thing.
First up, from my collection, this small blue glazed round, riveted drum pot with cut feet. At a glance, I’d say this was real. The patina is excellent, the clay looks kosher, the style is spot on, the glaze is one Tofukuji used extensively, and there’s even a little excess clay on the underside where the drainage holes were cut. All the salient details one looks for are there….
Except for the stamp. Having gotten all the major markers correct in creating this copy, it my contention that Hosui deliberately left the stamp pretty far from the mark, to avoid this being sold as the real deal. Let’s look next to a couple of real stamps:
The middle stamp is Hosui. The scale of the letters in relation to the leaf is all wrong, the right side doesn’t show any serration, the serration on the other sides is over exaggerated, there’s a gap at the petiole, and the tip of the leaf is rounded, as opposed to pointed. Additionally, the kanji are much coarser than the original. Everything about the stamp is deliberately off, and, from first glance at the gap at the top, intended to mark this as a copy.
Here we have another Hosui, marked as a Tofukuji. Again, the details are all spot on…style, glaze, clay…all good. Stamp? Not so much. Once again, the stamp is deliberately shoddy, marking this as a copy.
So, what’s the difference between a Copy and a Forgery, and a Copy and an Homage? A copy leaves plenty of clues in the pot or stamp for one to tell it is not real, while a Forgery deliberately tries to avoid those clues so the item can be sold as authentic. An homage is a stylistic copy, or work that is intentionally stylistically similar to the work of another artist, but marked as the work of the artist creating the piece, while a copy will often be marked as the work of the original artist. It’s clear that Hosui greatly respected Tofukuji’s work, and also clear that he intended these pieces not to be confused as authentic.
In addition to Tofukuji style Homages, and copies, Hosui’s range is broad, and includes some very nice painted containers and odd accent pots.
First up, a blue Sometsuke porcelain piece. We’ll take a look at this one first because it’s perhaps the most obvious Yusen homage pot. From the style of the pot to the painting, this piece screams “Yusen Homage.”
Thanks for reading!