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solution of film-forming materials, natural or synthetic, usually applied as an ornamental or protective coating. Quick-drying synthetic lacquers are used to coat automobiles, furniture, textiles, paper, and metalware. The lacquer formula may be varied to impart durability, hardness, gloss, or imperviousness to water. Nitrocellulose (pyroxylin) lacquers are the most widely employed. Slower-drying natural lacquers contain oleoresins obtained from the juice of trees, especially of Rhus vernicifera, a sumac of SE Asia. Lacquer work was one of the earliest industrial arts of Asia. It was highly developed in India; the Chinese inlaid lacquer work with ivory, jade, coral, or abalone and were unrivaled in making articles carved from it. The art spread to Korea, then to Japan, where it took new forms, notably gold lacquer work. Fine Asian ware may have more than 40 coats, each being dried and smoothed with a whetstone before application of the next. The ware may be decorated in color, gold, or silver and enhanced by modeled reliefs, engraving, or carving. Buddhist monasteries encouraged the art and now preserve some of the oldest pieces extant; in the temple of Horyu-ji, near Nara, Japan, is a Chinese-made sword scabbard of the 8th cent. Notable lacquer artists include Ogata KorinOgata Korin
, 1658–1716, Japanese decorator and painter. He is renowned for his lacquer work and paintings on screens, decorated with bold designs and striking color contrasts, and his masterful compositional use of empty space.
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 (17th cent.) and Shibata Yeshin (19th cent.). In the 17th cent., Western European imitations were popularized as japanningjapanning
, method of varnishing a surface, such as wood, metal, or glass, to obtain a durable, lustrous finish. The term is derived from a process popular in England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain in the 17th cent.
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 and carried to great perfection in France in the vernis Martin developed by the Martin brothers under Louis XV. Commercial production of lacquer work in the 19th cent. resulted in a decline in quality.


See Lacquer: An International History and Illustrated Survey (1984).


A material which contains a substantial quantity of a cellulose derivative, most commonly nitrocellulose but sometimes a cellulose ester, such as cellulose acetate or cellulose butyrate, or a cellulose ether such as ethyl cellulose; used to give a glossy finish, especially on brass and other bright metals.

Chinese lacquer, Japanese lacquer, lacquer

A hard-wearing varnish drawn from natural sources, as from the Japanese varnish tree.


Any glossy enamel which dries quickly by evaporation of the volatile solvents and diluents. Also see Chinese lacquer.


1. a hard glossy coating made by dissolving cellulose derivatives or natural resins in a volatile solvent
2. a black resinous substance, obtained from certain trees, used to give a hard glossy finish to wooden furniture
3. lacquer tree an E Asian anacardiaceous tree, Rhus verniciflua, whose stem yields a toxic exudation from which black lacquer is obtained
4. Art decorative objects coated with such lacquer, often inlaid
References in periodicals archive ?
After spraying again with hair lacquer, they can be used or stored in a cardboard box lined with tissue paper, this placed where it will be dry and cool - but never in plastic bags or containers.
How can they justify charging her pounds 30 for spending pounds 3 on a can of hair lacquer and going overdrawn by as little as three pence?
Tragically, she died when her hair lacquer caught fire during a freak electrical storm.
A BARELY visible haze of hair lacquer and spray will hover around the gilt edges and ornate trimmings of Cardiff's City Hall this weekend as the heat from a hundred hairdryers evaporates the beads of sweat, borne of intense concentration and frustration, on a hundred foreheads.
In their leopard skin tops, denim jackets, flares, platform soles and with enough hair lacquer to close the hole in the ozone lay er, they looked like the Midlands chapter of the Spice Girls fan club.
I hear John Prescott's MPV has a pool table and dartboard which fold away at the sniff of Tony's hair lacquer.
Out comes the suit, on goes the hair lacquer, and a day of channel hopping awaits as the rest of us are treated like in-bred buffoons in need of this 'expertise'.
He was forced off her when hair lacquer was sprayed into his face.
Spray each spiral generously with a strong-hold hair lacquer.
After creating the infrastructure, wrap the hairpieces around and blow dry the top layer flat using lots of hair lacquer for a smooth finish.