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Merfolk & Shuryo

Showcasing netsuke from our membership
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neilholton
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Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby neilholton » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:40 pm

Hi Alison, yesterday evening I was settling down to my last cuppa of the evening with the latest journal. I found myself reading your article and was really impressed with this well thought out work. Well done, I was so enthralled that my tea went cold and I had to make another. :)

One of the pieces you list, is perhaps by a very fine Osaka/Wakayama artist called Shuryo. He perhaps worked in the very first years of the 19th Century. He was part of a small group of artists, a group that were consistently fine. Their art names are: Natsuki, Shuryo, Hidemitsu, Soshin and Soraku. If I evaluate their style, they do have some Osaka traits, for instance the Urashima Taro/Roko Sennin which was signed Shuryo, if we compare the Turtle to other turtles with a Garaku (Osaka) signature you'll see a lot of similarities. However their figures have a very unique look, somewhat akin to Ogasawara Issai and the ultra rare artist Mataemon. I love these artists, they were a group that blended these two styles....Osaka and Wakayama marvelously and are true artists, they went their own way.

They were specialists at merging figure and animal. In most cases when an artist merge these two features you will often find that either the animal or figure is dominant, for instance the Kyoto artist Yoshitomo carved some wonderful lone animals, but then sometimes he merged animal and figure and the balance is off, the generic figure waters down the animal. However, this group, especially Natsuki was incredible at balancing the figure and animal, he was perhaps only second in the 19th Century to Otoman.
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Bakurae
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby Bakurae » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:06 am

Thanks for the good words, Neil, and apologies for the cold tea. But thanks especially for posting these marvelous images--it's great to know about this crew of artists. Your photo of the Shuryo mermaid is terrific--she looks very like the Natsuki in my fig. 17, and her wrists and hands gripping the tama look very like those ofTara/Roko Sennin holding onto his tortoise.

I hope others may post additional merfolk in different styles, with or without signatures--there''s no shortage of good ones. You get the feeling the carvers must have particularly enjoyed making them. Again thanks.

Alison

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chonchon
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby chonchon » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:18 am

A fascinating read, and some really fine Netsuke images. The ice in my Calpis is melting. Many thanks.
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neilholton
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby neilholton » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:12 am

Bakurae wrote:Your photo of the Shuryo mermaid is terrific--she looks very like the Natsuki in my fig. 17, and her wrists and hands gripping the tama look very like those ofTara/Roko Sennin holding onto his tortoise.


Great detective work Alison. Dissecting Netsuke like this are exactly how to develop good attribution techniques, invaluable for building a picture of Netsuke-art.

One wood Tekkai by Soshin.
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KPR
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby KPR » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:51 am

Your contribution in the new INSJ has also inspired me, Alison.

Interesting to compare your two Ningyos of Issai (# 15) and Natsuki (# 17) with that of Neil (Signed Shuryo).
However, I find it very difficult to see differences that point to the special carver.

The problem is especially big for me because I own an unsigned Ningyo.
It comes from the Robert Huthart collection and is attributed by Barry Davies to the carver Unjudo Shunemaru. Catalog No. 38

If I compare only individual details, I can assign them to each of the above mentioned persons.
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I add a picture of the bottom to make a comparison with Issai's piece (# 16 in Alison's post).
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Klaus

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neilholton
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby neilholton » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:17 am

Beautiful Mermaid Klaus, thanks for sharing.

These Mermaids are so close (in style) but I think their might be differences in age. However, even judging the age indicators is very subjective and I find myself contradicting myself regularly. This also highlights how the study aspect of our beautiful art form will be adversely affected by new draconian ivory measures as it becomes increasingly more difficult, maybe even impossible to reunite these ivory Netsuke for comparison.

The Shumemaru attribution comes from the illustration in the Spoken Kisho 1781 which assigns a mermaid theme to Shumemaru. I cannot recall a signed version and from what I know of Shumemaru his way is very different, however artists have to make what is popular so its very possible Shumemaru originated this type way back when.

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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby onimh » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:49 am

Beautiful pieces all around, and enlightening discussion on attributions. Thank you for sharing.

Might the Tekkai Sennin be Gomo Sennin? (If that is a feather fan in his hand).

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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby neilholton » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:01 am

onimh wrote:Might the Tekkai Sennin be Gomo Sennin? (If that is a feather fan in his hand).


I hear why you say Wizard Gomo. I am sorry but I don't have an image of the reverse, the rope is attached to a Gourd, so I say Tekkai though it could well indicate Chokaro.

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souldeep
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby souldeep » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:20 am

Alison - I think you've acquired many new fans from your article. I know I've already said it on another thread - but I really hope to see more articles from you :)

I'm not sure if this example adds anything to the discussion - but here I attach another model from this Wakayama circle of hands - this one a Chinnan Sennin signed Hidemitsu.

I have attempted to capture the dragon and the treatment of the bowl with a 60mm macro lens - difficult though, as the bowl is tiny! Hope you can see the dragon rising through swirls of mist, right claws gripped on the edge of the stippled bowl.
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PS Neil - was the Hidemitsu example you shared in your post signed? I have only been able to find one so far. Do you know of any other examples by this Wakayama artist?
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.

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Bakurae
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Re: Merfolk & Shuryo

Postby Bakurae » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:08 pm

Many thanks, netsuke brothers, for all the kind words. I'm not sure I can ever manage another article of this kind. Iit was a topic I'd been pursuing for a while in western art before discovering netsuke. And without Alain Briot's terrific publications (kindly called to my attention by Max) that provided key information and French translations of some early Japanese sources , it wouldn't have been possible. I'll keep thinking, though.

I've always loved Osaka netsuke in particular, but Wakayama must have been quite a place! Are there any studies on what was happening there? The examples posted in this thread are knockouts.

Alison


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