netsuke and sagemono lounge : Disclaimer - Please click anywhere on this bar to expand/contract the content.
Sponsor Announcement:

Woolley & Wallis would like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate in their auction - Japanese & Korean Art, on the 23rd May 2018.

To access the on-line catalogue please click on the banner below.


Image

Please Note: This sponsorship announcement will automatically disappear on the 24th May 2018.

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

A forum for discussions on INS-sponsor auctions from future and past.
User avatar
OliMos
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:27 pm
Location: London

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) views on a Masanao attribution

Postby OliMos » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:05 pm

Well I'm pretty happy that the report can spark a discussion, and no I don't mind a bit of sumo from you, Clive.

When I say surface, I do mean stain and patina, to me those words are fairly interchangeable, though with slightly different emphases. I didn't think that stain and polish of the surface was consistent with other Masanao netsuke I have seen and held, figural or animal. I thought it later than that, which as you say "FWIW" is highly probable. I could be more vague and leave space for doubt in the report but I felt pretty certain and I'm only expressing my opinion. I hope no-one is reading the report thinking "well this is what the whole netsuke community thinks about this work of art". I'm trying to keep the report as manageable as I can and there is a limit to what I can cover.

Neil, you are also right, and the artist can't control what happens to a netsuke after it leaves his studio. It can be restained or reinked and some suffer more than others, but surface is still one of the criteria we have to judge by. I thought the stain was excellent and even throughout and hadn't altered much at all. Were I to have limitless space and try to tackle every netsuke, I would also have mentioned the tiger and bamboo with Okatomo signature (lot 58). To me, that surface/stain/patina treatment was more reminiscent of Okatori's work than Okatomo, whose name it bears. Now that doesn't make it a "worse" netsuke. It is what it is, but it might affect it commercially. Okatomo is a bigger name than Okatori, and Masanao is about as big a name as you can get. That tiger's stain/polish/patina/surface/finish I thought very comparable and of a similar date and place to that of the post-Masanao Okame.

As to if not Masanao, who? Well .... someone else.... I think it is Kyoto figural work, but early 19th century, not mid 18th. I don't think it needs an attribution to a specific carver. It is a super netsuke without a name. There are a lot of carvers we can't identify and the obsession with trying to attribute everything to a specific name is quite restrictive. That we attribute it to a specific city is fairly loosey goosey. If there's a example which predates this one by 50+ years (If it's signed Masanao, if it's right, if, if ,if...) well that could have travelled extensively and inspired another carver in another city to make his version later. Largely what we have to go on is composition, carving style and surface, which we compare shared qualities to the body of (widely accepted?) signed works for which we know with fair certainty a location and approximate date. But that doesn't make a solid attribution.

User avatar
Vlad
Posts: 5079
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Vlad » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:12 pm

OliMos wrote: Largely what we have to go on is composition, carving style and surface, which we compare shared qualities to the body of (widely accepted?) signed works for which we know with fair certainty a location and approximate date. But that doesn't make a solid attribution.


Very good summary, Oli. I totally agree with everything you said for as long as neither of the mentioned criteria/attributes have been altered later, which I think has to be mentioned every time we describe a netsuke and of which I would consider Clive's opinion to be instrumental.
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

User avatar
LUBlub
Posts: 3897
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:27 pm
Location: Europe

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) views on a Masanao attribution

Postby LUBlub » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:55 pm

OliMos wrote:........ I don't think it needs an attribution to a specific carver. It is a super netsuke without a name. There are a lot of carvers we can't identify and the obsession with trying to attribute everything to a specific name is quite restrictive. ......


Absolutely agree with you...
Excellence in netsuke art don't need signature or pedigree, or age, only quality, aesthetics, beauty.

User avatar
neilholton
Posts: 743
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 7:58 pm
Location: Saffron Walden
Contact:

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) views on a Masanao attribution

Postby neilholton » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:37 pm

Thanks Oliver for contributing to the journal and the forum.

I think we largely agree then. A great Kyoto netsuke. I personally see no issue with giving this piece an 18th Century date and attributing the piece to Masanao-Studio. Alas, the owner of the signed comparable piece is still adamant they will not share. Never mind. Regarding the style, if you compare the Katchen Okame to a netsuke owned by Joe Kurstin, perhaps someone has an image, it sold at Sotheby's in the 2000’s. Joe always says Okame-Oiran however, I prefer the term Okame-Yujo basically an Okame as a low class prostitute sneaking away in the night. He teased me on the odd occassion saying I say Low as thats all I could have afforded had I been born in Japan way back when.

I think the reason you have the opinion you do, and the reason I have the opinion I do, is you see Masanao as a person. I see a brand. A brand that no doubt started with a person, but the brand outlasted the lifespan of a single person. For me a netsuke no longer needs to be from any part of the 18th Century to be a Masanao. Nor do the best of the Masanao studio’s output need to be made by the original chap.

Regarding the surface, a netsuke your gallery offered could be compared in terms of surface, the amagatsu, which bears a Masanao signature. I am sorry I don’t have a library at hand at the moment, but if memory serves me right….Meetings with remarkable netsuke I believe, number 12. LACMA has one, as does Joe. I’m guessing that netsuke has been dated to around 1780. I would personally say the Okame has a better chance of being older than the above mentioned doll, but thats me.

User avatar
Clive
Posts: 1796
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:52 am
Location: UK

Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Clive » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:59 pm

OliMos wrote:Well I'm pretty happy that the report can spark a discussion, and no I don't mind a bit of sumo from you, Clive.

When I say surface, I do mean stain and patina, to me those words are fairly interchangeable, though with slightly different emphases. I didn't think that stain and polish of the surface was consistent with other Masanao netsuke I have seen and held, figural or animal. I thought it later than that, which as you say "FWIW" is highly probable. I could be more vague and leave space for doubt in the report but I felt pretty certain and I'm only expressing my opinion. I hope no-one is reading the report thinking "well this is what the whole netsuke community thinks about this work of art". I'm trying to keep the report as manageable as I can and there is a limit to what I can cover.



Hi Oli..

With respect mate, here's the thing.. if you're seriously going to suggest that one can appreciate the difference between a worked piece of ivory that's early 19th Cen from an ivory that's mid to late 18th then you sure as hell need to have a very sensitive and deep appreciation of the actual difference between a stain (as in colour deliberately added onto or as in a dye into the top layer of an ivory surface) and the subtle structural and chemistry changes that might occur to the surface of an ivory that would more commonly be referred to as "Patina" precisely because that's the only way to reliably differentiate between the two time periods in an old piece of ivory. Saying that (to you) the two are "interchangeable", simply adds to the general befuddlement created by that very odd sentence previously discussed.

I understand and would agree with you that in terms of a visual effect created by "staining".. the Okame is quite different from most other Masanao's but that really isn't true in terms of the netsuke's natural "patina". It is because of that reason that I am unable to entirely rule out the netsuke as definitely not an earlier work.. acknowledging that in such a situation that there is a lack of certainty when the evidence clearly suggests that there is, is NOT being vague but accurate. Although you're obviously welcome to express your personal opinion however you choose in the auction report.. if you're going to write something like "Masanao just didn't create that sort of surface, a treatment that is a good fifty years after his period of activity" in such a situation, it simply doesn't read as authoritative as you might have hoped.

Further more..
OliMos wrote:... I don't think it needs an attribution to a specific carver. It is a super netsuke without a name. There are a lot of carvers we can't identify and the obsession with trying to attribute everything to a specific name is quite restrictive.


I agree but surely the same can be said about the obsession almost just as widely prevalent in the netsuke world whereby the moment somebody offers an considered opinion as to who might have carved something, certain folks immediate want to shoot the opinion down.
I would invite you to consider the opinion you expressed about Lot 59.. the Swimming Tiger and Cub. On the one hand you seem to be saying that this obsession there is with trying to attribute a carving to a specific carver is too restrictive but on the other you go on to suggest that if the Tiger didn't have what some collectors thought was a spurious signature you would have done your best to acquire the piece.

I hope I'm not being too hard on you Oli.. I suppose I just think we need to recognise just how influential the INS journal auction reports can be to the perceived value of netsuke and with that influence comes great responsibility. Perhaps we should really be asking ourselves whether or not it's even appropriate that a netsuke dealer writes the auction reports.. Might there not in general simply be too much of a conflict of interest? It wasn't that long ago that another dealer was severely criticized for certain things he opine about in the auction report. I seem to remember your dad wading in rather forcefully on that occasion, taking particular umbrage against certain casual claims made that were in his opinion not supported by hard evidence and I remember two other notable collectors words about that incident... "it takes a delicate balance to raise legitimate academic questions without creating ill feeling".

User avatar
Clive
Posts: 1796
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:52 am
Location: UK

Re: Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Clive » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:34 pm

OliMos wrote: I didn't think that stain and polish of the surface was consistent with other Masanao netsuke I have seen and held, figural or animal.

neilholton wrote:Regarding the surface, a netsuke your gallery offered could be compared in terms of surface, the amagatsu, which bears a Masanao signature. I am sorry I don’t have a library at hand at the moment, but if memory serves me right….Meetings with remarkable netsuke I believe, number 12. LACMA has one, as does Joe. I’m guessing that netsuke has been dated to around 1780. I would personally say the Okame has a better chance of being older than the above mentioned doll, but thats me.


FullSizeRender.jpg

IMG_7343.JPG

IMG_7342.JPG

IMG_7348.JPG

IMG_7349.JPG

User avatar
Vlad
Posts: 5079
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Vlad » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:39 pm

Different parts of the tusk were used in the two, if that mattered...

I will be curious to see how many of the confidently attributed to Kyoto Masanao pieces had been carved using the outer layers of the material, as done in the Katchen's okame.
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

User avatar
Vlad
Posts: 5079
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Vlad » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:15 pm

Also Oli, since you seemed to be open for questions/discussions, may I ask if you did not consider this netsuke from Hindson collection and previously in some other sources meeting the task when you wrote: "...a great netsuke with a super subject I'd never seen before: a tiger carrying her cub by the scruff of its neck through a torrent", or did you mean something different?
001.jpg
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

borat
Posts: 936
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:51 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

Postby borat » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:06 am

Thank-you for your auction report Oli, all of us realise that consensus is a rare occurrence with a lot of important pieces in our field.
The comparison rear view photo illustrating the oval/ kidney-shaped himotoshi is very instructive also.
I love the warm, honey-colored patina of this netsuke & the workmanship is better than most subsequent Oka-studio works. If we assume the hair has been re-inked in recent decades, I would believe the expert who states that this has a late 18th century origin.
There are some wonderful anonymous Kyoto carvers during this Golden Age.
If our famous Boston colleague was still actively collecting, I'm sure the final price would have soared much much higher.

User avatar
Vlad
Posts: 5079
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Auction Report on Okame (Katchen) : views on a Masanao attribution

Postby Vlad » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:53 am

I start wondering what is it that it is doing with Clive now, or are those somebody's else pictures?... :o

Also, isn't it the later the better when it comes to workmanship, borat? :shock:
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)


Return to “Auctions - INS recommended”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest