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Antique Japanese Stag Antler Netsuke
Scratching Itchy Back
Signature: Unsigned. Circa: early 19th Century

H 2.2 in.(3cm), W 1 in.(2.5cm), D 0.75 in.(2cm)
Condition: hairlines and minor age crack!

Of all the aspects of netsuke, we frequently assert that artistry is the supreme value. Although many works share subject matter and even depiction, truly fine artistry is distinguished from good workmanship in a piece such as this beautiful stag antler carving. The material is hard and dense, with an enamel surface that polishes to a luster in cream white tones. The gloss and enamel of this work combine to produce a translucent reflective edge which appears both warm and cool when turned in the hand. Because of its usage through the ages, some surface motifs have worn down, leaving only the vital lines, or “dragon lines” which are the support of the design to stand out in simplicity. The beauties of this work are many; the eloquent play of lines in motion over the straw woven pants, and crosshatching patterns on the garment, tail with flowing parallel lines and the crossed beam from the walking stick; with every line and shape related to every other line and curve. The sense of aliveness is emphasized in the blindman's facial expressions. From every angle, it's a work of art both pleasing and surprising; the deft handling of the levels of relief, in which volume is achieved through slight variations in depth; the humorous rendering of the back-scratching and broken teeth made even the age cracks in this netsuke delightful.

Sold To Private Collection

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