By Matsuda Sukenaga, signed Sukenaga 亮長
Japan, Hida-Takayama, early to mid-19th century, Edo period (1615-1868)
Finely carved, depicting the character Asakuro-Jo (Old Man), with pierced pupils, nostrils, and mouth, finely incised wrinkles, hair, and brows, and a calm, almost cheerful expression with a wary smile. The bridge with a single small himotoshi. The reverse with incised signature SUKENAGA.
HEIGHT 4.5 cm
Condition: Very good condition with minor surface wear.
Provenance: Ex-collection Dr. Walter Heihs. European collection P. Jacquesson, acquired from Sotheby’s, London, 17 November 1998, lot 584.
Masks of old men are of many types, all ending with the suffix jo. A common feature is locks of hair brought up from the sides and tied in a central bow, as seen on the present netsuke.
A closely related mask netsuke by Sukenaga is illustrated with a line drawing in Meinertzhagen, Frederick / Lazarnick, George (1986) MCI, Part B, p. 826. For a related mask netsuke by Sukenaga, see Christie’s, The Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection of Netsuke Part I, 27 October 1987, London, lot 186. A similar polychrome-painted wood mask, dated to the 16th century (Azuchi-Momoyama period), possibly serving as the model for the present netsuke, is in the Tokyo National Museum, no. C-44.
Red link: https://colbase.nich.go.jp/collection_items/tnm/C-44?locale=en
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