LACMA II — 根付日 — Netsuke Day

We promised you netsuke and netsuke you shall have.

A visit to the Raymond and Frances Bushell Netsuke Gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yielded a weblogpostful of photos of the cute lil things. Let’s start with this front and back of a “Fox Disguised as a Priest.” It’s wood with “lacquer inlays”:

Note the artist's signature on the back.

A 19th century artist named Kōkoku did it and did it well. Nor did he fail to include the little holes in back for the drawstrings to go through. Without those holes netsuke aren’t netsuke; they’re just miniature statues, useless for holding your sagemono onto your kimono‘s sash. Why, you might as well wear trousers… trousers with pockets!

How big are these guys? Carefully examine this photo of an ivory netsuke by 20th century carver Dōkei. Note how my assistant has splayed her hand behind the figurine — of Ōkobu Hikozaemon — to show you its size:He was the eighth son of Ōkubo Tadakazu.

We really liked this one, Tongue-cut Sparrow. It’s a stained-ivory-with-sumi fob carved by “Masatoshi,” an artist who lived from 1915 to 2001:

My assistant recognized the story illustrated by this one.

Another 20th century carver, Shōminsai, our illegible notes tell us, made this beautiful netsuke depicting the poet Narihira eloping with Takako.No, I don't know who Narihira or Takako are either.

As we wrote in an earlier post, our practice has long been to sketch the stuff we see at galleries, partly as a memory aid, partly for fun. Here’s one of the pages from our LACMA sketchbook that was made during our netsuke run:

No, I can't read it either.

Now we must hurry to LAX to meet an arriving passenger and chauffeur her back home.

UPDATE: More netsuke at LACMA here at this later post: MORE NETSUKE.

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