Design for Tea Labels: Samurai with a Sword
7 11/16 x 7 1/16 in. (19.5 x 18 cm)
Medium and Support:
Watercolor and pen and black ink on thin Japan tissue
General Acquisitions Fund
Location: Not currently on view
Two panels painted on one sheet of paper, mounted on another page; pages bound into a small folio to make an album
Shown here are two examples from a portfolio of 44 tea label designs. Each includes spaces to accommodate the name of the distributor and its brand of imported Japanese tea.
The Western-style shoe on the samurai’s left foot suggests that these images may have been drawn by a non-Japanese artist (the footwear on his right foot has some resemblance to the traditional woven sandal). In fact these images may be works by an early graphic designer in Rochester. Then-director Harris K. Prior wrote in his correspondence to the previous owner of the portfolio, “I think that, in view of the fact that they relate to a Rochester artist we should take advantage of your generosity and acquire them for the collection.” The letter does not mention the name of the artist.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]