Project Description

Ivory netsuke of a bitch and pup by Yamaguchi Okatomo (active 1780-1830)

The mother recumbent while her curious pup rests with its forepaws on her back, peeping over the top.  The mother’s belly has the pleasing roundness of the best such models, and there is precisely incised hairwork with staining all over, inevitably slightly worn, but not overmuch for a carving of this age.  The eyes are inlays of dark horn

Signed: Okatomo.  Kyoto, circa 1800


Although one thinks of Okatomo dogs as being common, groups of bitch and pup are not.  I can find only two others, one in the Eskenazi catalogue of the Jacques Carré collection, no. 183, in which the pup is in much the same position as here; the other sold in a sale at Sotheby’s London, 30th June 1975, lot  37 (illustrated in the JINCS, vol. 3, no.3, p. 14), in which the pup sits facing away from its mother.  In both the bitch holds her head close to the ground.  In all three the sweet expression of the adult dog and the curl of the tails shouts autograph work of Okatomo