Family of 17th century Japanese porcelain decorators who produced wares decorated with flowers and figures on a white ground in distinctive colors: azure, yellow, turquoise and soft red. Fine milk-white porcelain with delicate decoration in underglaze-blue or over-glaze colored enamels; in style closely related to the Chinese Famille verte. Produced near Arita from the late 17th century. Widely imitated in Europe.
"The term Kakiemon is useful, identifying a general style and a general palette of enamels (where present), provided that it is realized that pieces thus identified were not all produced at one kiln, nor enameled at one workshop, that the pictorial style may be varied and that underglaze blue is more commonly found than not. Nor can firm divisions be drawn between these wares and some of the wares that are normally called Imari." (Ayers, John, Impey, Oliver, and Mallet, J.V.G. Porcelain for Palaces: The Fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750. British Museum Exhibition Catalogue. London: Oriental Ceramic Society. 1990. Page 140).
"We are not yet in a position to distinguish with any security between the wares made by the Kakiemon family from those made by other kilns in the Kakiemon tradition." (Jenyns, Soame. Japanese Porcelain. New York: Praeger. 1965. Page 162).
In a 1961 article, noted Japanese collector Hideo Kurita, of the Kurita Museum in Japan (with some 10,000 pieces of Imari and Kakiemon porcelain in the museum collection), concluded that "all Kakiemon pieces were produced by unknown potters working in various kilns."
Kurita has consistently decided not to specifically attribute any pieces to Kakiemon or to any other potter working in the Kakiemon style (Cortazzi, Sir Hugh. "Kurita Museum." In Arts of Asia, January-February 1994 issue. Hong Kong. Page 52).