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Japanese Antique Netsuke
Two Warty Toads
Romancing On Lotus Leaf

Netsuke Signature: Tomoichi, early 1900s'
H 1in.(2.5cm.), W 1.5 in.(4cm.), D 1.25 in.(3cm.)

Condition: losses of coral inlays, o.a. excellent

In its subject, composition and treatment, this ivory demonstrates the essential esthetics and inherent scope of the art of netsuke. The work seems to be a satire on romance with the two knobby creatures beginning to touch, as the webbed foot of the larger toad imposes on the foot of the smaller, presumably female toad. Toads have been known to attempt to consume other toads of similar size, so one can not be entirely certain of the intentions of either animal. This ambiguity sharpens the element of humor, which is not without a philosophical bent. It is an earthy humor in any case, which is amplified by the artist’s precision in reproducing the rough and warty skins of the “couple”. Their expressions and body language add to the characterization and present themselves for further speculation.

Tomoichi Toads Netsuke
Sold To Private Collection

This netsuke bears the artist’s signature Tomoichi on the bottom. Tomoichi is also known as Yukimasa. Student of Koshin known for his original designs portraying life and customs of the Edo period, and for his animals in ivory and boxwood. Animal subjects are signed Tomoichi. Best known outside Japan, his work is highly in demand in foreign markets.

  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
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