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Antique Coral Inlaid Netsuke
Crouching On Log

Netsuke Signature: Masanao (Kyoto), late 18th Century
H 2 in.(5cm.), W 1.5 in.(4cm.), D 1.25 in.(3cm.)
Condition: single crack line, o.a. excellent

Masanao of Kyoto is regarded by many collectors and scholars as the consummate master of netsuke carving. Active in the middle and late 18th century, Masanao possesses “the uncanny ability to penetrate to the heart of his subject and to portray it with artistic distortion, exaggerations and idealizations that make it more real than realism” (-Moss). His carvings are highly prized and sought after, and a genuine Masanao presents an unusual opportunity for the serious collector.

This netsuke is undoubtedly an earlier carving by Masanao of Kyoto. Confirmation of its authenticity is in the inscribed signature, which shows two horizontal lines with a rectangular box, as illustrated in the Signature Book by George Lazarnick. The supreme artistry of this piece is evident in the extraordinary featherwork, which is bold yet contained and impeccably consistent in depth and patterning. Even the selection of material is typical of Masanao of Kyoto; in its range of tones, the texture of the feathers setting off the creamy whiteness of the belly and the polished talons. --R.W.

Masanao Eagle Netsuke
Sold To Private Collection

"Mentioned in the Soken Kisho. Thought by many to be one of the greatest netsuke artist. Masanao carved chiefly in ivory and mainly animal subjects. The work is bold, his creature being distinctive with their large ears, strong legs, splayed paws and, most particularly, their powerful distended chest and shoulders. Their snouts are rather square and their eyes, terminating in a slit at each corner, have firmly inlay pupils. The hair work on certain animals curves distinctively away from the well marked backbone and continue in a line with the legs and tail. The animals are generally seated or reclining. The himotoshi in most cases comprise one large oval hole and a small round one. The signature is very distinctive; the characters bend slightly to the right and well spaced in an elliptical reserve." --Davey, Netsuke, A Comprehensive Study Based On The M T Hindson Collection

Masanao Eagle NetsukeMasanao SignatureMasanao Eagle Netsuke
Masanao Eagle Netsuke bottomMasanao Eagle Netsuke back
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