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Meiji Bronze Circus Elephant

Antique Japanese Bronze Okimono
Circus Elephant
Standing On Globe
Signed: Mikoku. Meiji, circa: 1868-1911
H 9 in.(23cm.), W 8 in.(20cm.), D 5 in.(12.5cm.)
Condition: ivory tusks, custom base, excellent!

A superb work of startling realism. Not only is the surface entirely convincing; the sense of bulk and bone, the fleshy trunk, the heavy body gathered in unsteady equipoise, the delicately mobile ears, but most impressive is the leathery hide, which is accomplished by smoothing out the form, pressing it with a tool to raise a multitude of tiny semi-spheres, then dragging and paddling with a spatula over the bumpy surface to produce the irregular natural appearing texture. Upon this textured surface the clay or wax was scored to show the folds as they move with the animalís form and action. This detail is also seen in the marvelous representation of the head and trunk, which is finished with real ivory for the tusks.

This elephant is an example of outstanding workmanship in bronze in the Meiji period. Celebrated artists who had created extravagant masterpieces in metal for use as sword-guards (tsuba), turned their attention to creating bronzes for the export market when the carrying of swords by the aristocracy became strictly limited. Undoubtedly this is such a piece, for it illustrates the extremely fine artistry that became available to the export industry as conditions evolved during this period of time. --RW

Meiji Bronze Elephant
Private Collection
Meiji Bronze Circus Elephant
Last BuddhaFuture Buddha

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