Namikawa Sosuke (1847–1910) is one of the most famous Japanese enamellers, receiving the title of Teishitsu Gigein (Imperial Artist) in 1896. The title Teishitsu Gigein was awarded by the imperial court only to the most renowned masters of their craft in various fields of artistic creativity. Masters who received the title of imperial artist had the right to depict on their products the coat of arms of the imperial house (mon) – a sixteen-petalled chrysanthemum. Works marked with the chrysanthemum mark were often given as diplomatic gifts during the Meiji period.
It was Sosuke who pioneered the painterly style of enamel (around 1879), also known as musen-shippo, a wireless enamel in which the partitions are either absent or invisible. He was able to mix different colors and shades, creating the impression of a pictorial image, but at the same time his works also used cloisonné enamel (yusen-shippo), if the composition required it.
Although Sōsuke often copied illustrations from famous artists such as Seitei Watanabe (1851-1918), he was a great artist himself. His most extensive work was the thirty-two oval enamel panels for the audience hall (hall of flowers and birds) of the Akasaka Palace guest house, which he completed shortly before his death after ten years of work.