Attributed to Soshin, unsigned
Japan, Osaka or Kii, c. 1800, Edo period (1615-1868)
Hurtig, Bernard (1973) Masterpieces of Netsuke Art: One Thousand Favorites of Leading Collectors, p. 201, no. 841.
Sydney L. Moss Ltd. (2006) More Things in Heaven and Earth, pp. 40-41, no. 11.
A remarkable wood figure of the immortal Chinnan stroking a loose strand of hair and holding an alms bowl from which a minutely carved dragon emerges, the creature looking up at its conjuror and gently placing one claw against Chinnan’s chest. This small yet striking detail is executed with peculiar sensitivity, almost surprising the viewer, giving a rare glimpse into the bond shared by the dragon and sennin. Chinnan’s glaring eyes, inlaid in pale and dark horn, and opened mouth confirm this heightened sense of pleasure induced by the dragon’s touch. The immortal wears a neatly incised leaf cloak and has a curious horn-like protrusion emerging from his head, which is usually an attribute of rishi such as the immortal Ikkaku. The back with large, asymmetrical, and generously excavated himotoshi placed at an angle. The wood bearing a fine, dark patina.
HEIGHT 9.3 cm
Condition: The feet have been replaced a long time ago (already visible in the 1973 publication quoted above) and are convincing and respectful repairs. They have been probably lost due to fire damage as indicated by some light singing to the left sleeve. Few natural age cracks and typical wear. Appealingly dark patina.
Provenance: Ex-collection Georges Weil. Georges Weil (b. 1938) was a jewelry designer and sculptor of precious metals who formed an important collection of netsuke in the 1960s and also started carving netsuke in the 1970s. His works have been featured in many important exhibitions throughout the world, and are in the collections of many noted museums, such as the British Museum. With Sydney Moss Ltd., London, 1993. An American private collection, acquired from the above. Christie’s, 21 December 2009, Paris, lot 46. Ex-collection Guy de Lasteyrie, acquired from the above. De Lasteyrie is a member of the Lasteyrie du Saillant family and is considered among the leading French collectors of netsuke.
Compare a related figure of Tekkai sennin, by Soshin, note the similar crispness of the carving and the expression with peculiarly inlaid eyes, illustrated in Sydney L. Moss Ltd. (2006) More Things in Heaven and Earth, no. 37.
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