BY LAMP LIGHT: Gump’s illuminates fine Asian design

BY LAMP LIGHT: Gump’s illuminates fine Asian design

Where you place your lighting, of course, is important. It's where light is most welcomed and desired, especially when it's your personal expression of what to illuminate and what to enhance.

On a table next to where you sit and read? Yes, especially useful in days and nights as these. By a window to enhance or replace natural light around sunset? Welcomed, in the right balance.

We also believe that the appeal of the lamp itself is part of the experience. And nowhere is this more evident than when Gump's love of fine Asian design is translated into the look of our lamps. We've been doing this for a while now, from the early 1900s in fact. More about that later.

Here are two elegant examples of what lamp light can do for your home.


The cherry blossom, or "sakura," is often called Japan's unofficial national flower. Both the tree and its blossoms are celebrated in Japanese culture: an inspiration for art and the impetus for entire communities to celebrate the change of seasons. There also a flowering form is silhouetted in a composed garden, and here at home magnificent groves of blossoming trees are found from Washington D.C. to California: cherry blossoms are welcome harbingers of nature's beauty.

Our lamp recalls themes that famously appear in the "ukiyo-e" genre, classic woodprints by Hiroshige and others. Their vibrant celebration of life and landscape was captured in a compact form. The refined golden hue of our Sakura Lamp's compact, classic Asian-urn form complements the hand painting of branch and bird.

Woodblock print of Cherry Blossoms and Mount Fuji.

Artist: Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Cherry blossoms often symbolize clouds as they bloom and float overhead.

Our sakura blossoms and branches are home to birds of paradise, which add graceful life to our lamp, its base crafted of porcelain in the style of a Chinese urn. Celebrated for their color and plumage, the birds of paradise take full advantage of the reflected lamp light to display eye-catching hues in porcelain as they do in nature.






Vignettes of an Asian fan and other traditional imagery seem almost to float against detailed backgrounds. This is achieved by the careful application of color to the Mari Lamp. Softened by a white cambric shade, the fine porcelain base shows the mastery created when the subtly scalloped form and hand painted detail combine in homage to its 17th century Japanese original.

The fan is an immediately recognizable icon of Japanese culture. It's one of a small number of ancient crafts whose origins lie at home in Japan. As imagery, fans are entwined in the nation's long and fascinating history, especially associated with the times when they were reserved for display by the Samurai class and Japanese aristocrats.

Note the decorative golden finial. It's a gesture to Chinese symbolism, a form of the "Shou" which denotes happiness, harmony in life, and longevity.

Our lamp celebrates its glowing harmony with Imari ware, whose decorative detail and carefully chosen colors achieve a balanced whole.

Antique Japanese Imari Charger. Late 19th century.




Now, picture Gump's in the early decades of the 1900s. The nation and the world joined San Franciscans for the World's Fair launched here in the City by the Bay, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. Exhibitors came from all and far corners of the globe, blending the exotic and the familiar. China, Japan and other Asian countries brought wares, art and architecture on a scale not seen before on the West Coast.

The China National Pavilion at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

A.L. Gump, the legendary "Mr. Gump of Gump's," and host to kings, presidents and celebrities, was enthralled by what he saw at the Fair. Here was an opportunity to satisfy the growing interest in all things Asian. This trend was growing in Europe and the East Coast: inspiration for Whistler's Peacock Room, the French painters drawn to "Japonisme" and Louis Comfort Tiffany's Asian-influenced glass designs.

In Gump's San Francisco, Asian art as well as its porcelains, textiles and lacquerware were now featured in its new Asian-themed rooms - the Lotus Room, the Jade Room - just to name two.

Here's a snapshot or two. From early in the 1900s, one of the Asian rooms with bowls and vases on display along with other fine imported goods.

Here's the Gump's main floor with Asian ceramics, including lamps created from classic Asian materials. (The great bronze Japanese Buddha is now in the Japanese Tea Garden of our Golden Gate Park, a gift of the Gump family in honor of A.L. Gump.)

Our tradition of offering the best in Asian design continues through the decades. Note this room designed and assembled with an "Asian Moderne" flair, including a fine example of lamps sold during the 30s and 40s.

We've come full circle. The legacy continues. We at Gump's wish you good lamp light.