Project Description

Wood Netsuke of an Elephant by Takahashi Houn

As so often in Japanese art, this cuddly pachiderm is a sort of cross between a baku and an elephant, resting with its head on a front leg, apparently smiling
Signed in tensho.
Edo. Circa 1860
Length: 4.7 cm
The artist was a pupil of Kokei, and subsequently worked in Tokyo as a carver of Buddhist images, earning him the honorific title Hogen. Fuld records only 7 netsuke by him
Elephants were familiar to the Japanese from Buddhist art, but the first one arrived in the country in 1574. The one which made the greatest impact was that offered by the Dutch East India Company to the Shogun in 1728, which was much illustrated in Japanese art, notably and repeatedly by Ritsuo.
B. Hurtig, Masterpieces of Netsuke Art, p. 211, n° 891, illustrated
L. Bandini, Values and Record prices, part II in Journal of the International Netsuke Collectors’ Society, 5 /3, p. 20, listed as joint 5th most expensive netsuke at auction in that year
Meinertzhagen Card Index, p. 200, illustrated
La Gazette Drouot, n° 21, 27th May 2011 p. 177
D. Wright’s report of the Wrangham sale in International Netsuke Society Journal, 31/2, p. 35, discussed and illustrated
G. Wilhelm’s report of the same in Bulletin Association Franco-Japonaise, n° 110, pages unnumbered, discussed and illustrated
Walter L. Behrens collection, illustrated in Joly’s catalogue, n° 5327, illustrated on pl. LXIX, sold at his sale, Glendining’s, 1st to 8th December 1913
Sale, idem, November 1931
Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s London, 11th January 1965, lot 93, purchased by Edward A. Wrangham
Sold at the latter’s second sale, Bonhams London, 10th May 201, lot 90, purchased by the present owner in competition with Edward Johnson III
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Inro. An exhibition of Japanese Inro from the collection of E.A. Wrangham, October-November 1972, n° 34 (attached to a Toyo inro, and illustrated in the catalogue)