Project Description

Early Dark Stained Softwood Netsuke of Gama Sennin, Attributed to Gisaburo Tsuji

Unusually the sennin holds a branch of peaches in his right hand while retaining the back leg of his 3 legged toad with the other. Although the sennin’s eyes are merely carved, those of the toad are expertly double inlaid in horn

Unsigned. Circa 1780

Height: 8cm

Because of the nature of the wood used, some of the detail is quite worn, but something about this netsuke drew me to it instinctively. I initially hesitated to make an attribution, though the stance of the legs called Tsuji to mind. Comparison with details in some of the 10 netsuke by him in the Moss catalogue ‘Meetings with Remarkable Netsuke’ lead me to believe that this could be by him. One other factor which encourages me in my attribution is the peach branch. It would be easy to think this a trivial point, but Fuld lists only 8 netsuke of Gama sennin standing with peaches, and of those the only 2 that are in wood are by Tsuji. One is the British Museum version (Barker & Smith, no. 1), with inlaid ivory elements, described as added later, which I would question. The other was in the Sotheby’s London sale of the Bushell collection, 18th November 1999, lot 60. In each the sennin wears a distinctive cowl over his shoulders, holds a peach branch in one hand and holds one leg of his toad with the other.  And lastly Tsuji certainly carved in such woods on occasion.  Of course what is missing is the characteristic exaggerated himotoshi.  An early work perhaps?  

MR4785

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