Until 1st Aug, 2023

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LOT 11 - NE0423

Buy now for €6,500.00

Lot details

By Gyokusen, signed Gyokusen 玉仙
Japan, 18th to early 19th century, Edo period (1615-1868)

Intricately carved as two skeletons in a final loving embrace, one seated on the other’s lap, wrapping the legs around their lover’s lower back, the skulls cheek to cheek with the mouths connected in a kiss, further detailed with deep eye and ear sockets, superbly incised and finely stained ribs, and curved spines. Several natural himotoshi due to the openwork. Signed to the soles of the kneeling figure’s feet GYOKUSEN.

HEIGHT 5.1 cm

Condition: Good condition, minor wear, one leg with an old restoration.
Provenance: Ex-collection Joe Kurstin. Dr. M. Joseph ‘Joe’ Kurstin (1931-2021) was a prominent Miami ophthalmologist who arguably built one of the greatest netsuke collections of all time. He was known by netsuke and inro lovers worldwide and made many lifelong friends in this tight-knit community. He published several books and articles on the subject and generously lent his collection for exhibitions at the Yale University Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Epcot Center at Disney World, and The Tobacco and Salt Museum, Tokyo.

While similar examples exist of skeletons interacting with each other, the position of the present two skeletons appears to be unique. Furthermore, similar examples are usually quite rough, while the present carving is exceptionally fine with superb detailing to the rib cages.

Literature comparison:
Compare a related wood netsuke of two skeletons in an embrace, dated 18th century, formerly in the collection of Albert Brockhaus (Index no. 2096, purchased in 1912), at Kunsthandel Klefisch, 12 September 1992, Cologne, lot 302.


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