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Neil Holton Japanese Art


An early wood figure, knees bent resting his upper body over a large sack, his hands disappear up the sleeves of his robe and his chin rests on his forearms.

Viewing this piece, a memorable netsuke springs to mind. The similarities apparent. Mr Carre’s collection offered by Eskenazi 1993, number 116 is a pair of actors captured in the middle of a performance. The styles are related, carving features particularly the folds of the dress and headgear. The artist of the Carre example is Hoshin, a Kyoto artist mentioned in the Soken Kisho as only “a resident of Keishi, uses ivory to carve a palace in a clam”. This sparse information really tells us little. I suspect the clam’s dream of which I have owned an ivory and wood example was his bread and butter model.

I see Hoshin as an artist related in style if nothing else to the Yoshinaga and Masanao line, but his style more random and personally I feel earlier than the other two. I feel our group is perhaps by the same hand as the Carre example.

I tentatively identify this netsuke as Bishamon, accompanied by Hotei’s sack and Karako. Early Bishamons are rare, however even 19th Century representation aren’t exactly commonplace. However, there is a sombre mood to the piece another possibility is Ishikawa Goemon, the Robin Hood type character who was boiled alive with his son.

Guide Price - £3,000

4.1cm High