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Is this actually a signature??

Discussions of carvers, workshops and attributions. A forum to also find help on, or discuss, signatures.
GRHR
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:48 pm

Is this actually a signature??

Postby GRHR » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:38 pm

Dear Forum,
I purchased the netsuke pictured which the seller stated has the signature "Ichigyoku" on the bottom. Having looked at the 3 lines and checked (with my very limited knowledge) Japanese Art Signatures and a Neil Davey book I can only see that it might read "San" / "Ichi Ni" or, if somehow the "Ichi" has been worn away (seems unlikley with the depth of the other 3 lines) that at a stretch it could be "Issen"? Having researched works by Ichigyoku and Issen I don't the piece is by either...
My questions are these:
1. Are these marks a genuine signature? Or
2. Are these marks actually some other wear and the netsuke is actually unsigned?
Any and all thoughts very much appreciated!
Giles
P1150645.JPG
Main image
P1150646.JPG
"signature" shot 1
P1150647.JPG
"signature" shot 2

onimh
Posts: 549
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:32 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby onimh » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:07 pm

My reaction is that you have a very, very, nice, old, unsigned netsuke.

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tanukisan
Posts: 594
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:30 pm
Location: Solihull , West Midlands

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby tanukisan » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:29 pm

I agree it looks far more like 3 knock marks inflicted on this e-bay unsigned netsuke rather than a signature.

John 


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chonchon
Posts: 6941
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 9:16 am
Location: Japan

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby chonchon » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:16 am

Agreed. If there is a signature, it’s not there. Absolutely no need for a signature though!
Piers

Size is something.

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souldeep
Posts: 3694
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:38 pm
Location: London

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby souldeep » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:06 am

Agree with other comments above. Nice old thing. Well found.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

GRHR
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:48 pm

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby GRHR » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:36 am

Many thanks for the comments - greatly appreciated. My next question is to ask for advice on approaches to research. As a novice, the main thing that is important to me about the signature on a netsuke is that it gives me a place to start my research into a piece and I find it incredibly difficult to know where to start without this base. For this piece, for example, I have looked for other examples of performers / dancers with Shi Shi masks and karakos with shi shi masks but have found nothing similar (bear in mind when I say research I mean a Bushell and Davey book I have and our good friend Google...). In short, how might I find out where the piece was carved? I've looked at Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya school works and with my limited knowledge it could be have been carved anywhere (with the exception that it really doesn't look like an Asakusa piece). Does the netsuke reflect any carvers style (I have no idea what defining traits I might look for...) and how do you approach researching this without a signature?
Any and all thoughts greatly appreciated as always and attached are more photos of the netsuke so you can enjoy it as much as I do!
Best,
Giles
P1150648.JPG
P1150649.JPG
P1150650.JPG
P1150651.JPG

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jbjtennyo
Posts: 3733
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:38 pm
Location: USA

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby jbjtennyo » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:35 pm

Hi Giles,
I agree with everyone here, in that this is a really nice old netsuke. I do feel your frustration over not knowing where to start if you want to find the origin. But that seems to be the situation with netsuke. Even when a piece is signed, the signature may not be original to the carving. There are a lot of other aspects to look at before coming to any type of a conclusion in any event. You have to remember that when these little guys were being carved originally, they were not considered art. So in many cases there is no provenance like we speak of in other art forms, where information goes all the way back to the artist, and everyone that ever owned it. It is sketchy in the netsuke world at least, and we, in many cases, make assumptions based on what we can find out. You may never know the carver, but with the help of folks like Neil Holton and others who have handled thousands of netsuke, and have a real sense of origin, it is possible you might be able to link it to a school or style of carving. Information may surface along the way, but there are not always quick or easy answers. If you did find another carving that is similar, it probably wouldn't be signed either, but perhaps it would link the piece to a school or area of carving.
Judy

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chonchon
Posts: 6941
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 9:16 am
Location: Japan

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby chonchon » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:19 pm

And that is one of the joys of this hobby. A little tiny piece of information will come along, (sometimes even after you have given up and sold a Netsuke), or you’ll be working through a book and spot identical spiky teeth on a Shishi-mai mask. Gradually the Netsuke will tell you some of its story, but in its own leisurely time. Netsuke are in a sense timeless; it is we who are in a hurry.
If it is any consolation, it will be hard in the beginning to get anything to stick to your child in Shishi outfit. Was it once in a collection in the west? Sometimes that’s a good start, where information may have been recorded.
Piers

Size is something.

GRHR
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:48 pm

Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby GRHR » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:54 pm

Thank you Jan and Piers for your sage words - I hope that as I learn more, more will be revealed. I think one of the main things that draws me to netsuke is the detective work and with each dead end, a little disappointment but also a feeling that you like the netsuke a little more for being so elusive! I feel I am at the start of a long journey...

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Operafan
Posts: 316
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Re: Is this actually a signature??

Postby Operafan » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:10 pm

Very different, but same subject: karako with his shishimai costume, from the beautiful catalogue of Rosemary Bandini:

http://www.rosemarybandini.com/portfoli ... o-shuraku/
Alex


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