Japanese export lacquer exerted an influence on European art and decoration quite out of proportion to its physical presence in Europe. The vast amounts shipped from Japan mainly in three stages (1590s 1640, 1639 93, 1800 40s) demonstrate the need for the study of this beautiful material. Japanese export lacquer is the first full treatment of lacquerware made to European demand, its transportation and the lacquer market in Europe as well as the effect of lacquer and its use in a European context. Trading patterns and its use are described in detail, based on the documentary evidence of Europeans in the Far East, on notes kept by the Portuguese in Japan, on the important and comprehensive archives of the Dutch East India Company and to a lesser extent and for a shorter period, of the English Honourable East India Company, as well as on contemporary comments and inventories within Europe. Full use is made of the sparse Japanese documentation of the trade, only available for the period 1709 11 and the early nineteenth century. Reference is also made to additional records kept by American ships captains and supercargoes from Massachusetts. While the Portuguese seem to have regarded Japanese lacquer as mainly suitable for use as grand gifts, particularly within the Habsburg family network, it is surprising how much of the lacquer for the Portuguese market (the so called Namban lacquer) survives in Europe, testifying to extensive (undocumented) private trade, as well as the orders of the Society of Jesus. The Dutch used lacquer as gifts and for trade. The English Company never traded in lacquer but was involved in many private transactions. The inter Asian markets were vital to the Dutch, particularly where lacquer was regarded as suitable for gifts to Oriental potentates. This is well documented and descriptions of orders for lacquer elephant howdahs and carrying chairs inform us of what has been lost. The authors describe and illustrate the huge variety of known lacquer shapes and decorations produced for all markets within the three periods mentioned above and to a lesser extent in the eighteenth century, where the documentation is scarce and the demand less. This involves several hundred individual pieces, most of which are illustrated. Japanese lacquer was soon recognized as the best available and it seems never to have gone out of fashion in Europe, even when the shapes of the furniture on which it appeared did. Japanese lacquer furniture was dismantled to provide panels for inlay into European furniture as tastes changed. This important feature in the history of European furniture is discussed at length and illustrated by many examples. Additional material was sourced from such instances as the embassy to the French Court sent by the King of Siam to Paris in 1684 via the adventurer Constant Phaulkon, and the lists of lacquerware and other items presented to the King of the Royal family. This publication includes appendices and a full scholarly apparatus of bibliography, glossary, concordance, etc.