The bulky ox is resting on its four legs and has a naturalistic and powerful expression, typical for Kyoto-works of oxen by the great 18th century master Tomotada. There are probably thousands of oxen inscribed Tomotada, varying in quality, however this one is in the very top percentile and certainly by the master himself. The eyes are inlaid with black horn, the hairwork is very fine and the rope that passes through the ring around the nose is minutely carved and reaches around to its back. The ivory has a very good colour and fine patina, especially to the underside which is masterfully carved. Note the expressive skin fold of the neck, which adds a special touch to the composition. The himotoshi on the underside are irregular and well hollowed out, exactly as they should be. The signature TOMOTADA can be found in-between the himotoshi in the characteristic square reserve, and just like the rest of the composition, is coherent.
LENGTH 6.5 CM
Condition: Very good condition; age cracks as expected and consistent with the age
Provenance: Collection of Sam Felton with CITES permit no. 18US59513C/9. Purchased from Bernard Hurtig in 1976 (old invoice available).
Auction comparison: For a similar ox by Tomotada see Sotheby’s, Japanese and Korean Works of Art, London, 14 July 2005, lot 1073.
For another ox by Tomotada, in different style, but with the same colour and similar skin fold on the neck see the Julius and Arlette Katchen Sale of Fine Netsuke Part II, London, 10 May 2017, lot 53