The tiger is standing on its four paws, its tail curling up on the side touching its cheek. The hairwork is very finely incised and the pattern of the fur coat is minutely incised, which is characteristic for the artist. The expression of the tiger is sensitive and naturalistic; its mouth is slightly opened showing its sharp fangs, its ears are laid back, displaying a sense of curiosity as it is focusing its eyes on something in the distance. The expression conveys the split-second of the moment before the triggering of a stimulus and is portrayed so well, that only an artist with great appreciation of the feline nature could achieve this.
Inlaid eyes, natural himotoshi and signature OKATORI in a rounded reserve.
HEIGHT c. 4 CM
Condition: Excellent condition
Provenance: Collection of Sam Felton with CITES permit no. 18US59513C/9. Purchased from Denise Ronin in 1978, with letter of appraisal dating this piece to the 20th century
The manner of the reserve and strokes of the kanji in this signature is unusual, especially when compared with other recorded netsuke by this artist. Also, 18th century tigers by Okatori are very much in the manner of Tomotada or Okatomo (Okatori’s older brother and master) and are carved extremely well, but as the tiger was not native to Japan, they are not as naturalistic as this tiger and most other animals carved by Okatori. Therefore, there is a possibility that this netsuke was carved either late in Okatori’s life, or by a student, or by another very good carver in the manner of Okatori. However, none of the above should take away any merit of this excellent work, which going by quality of carving on its own, is without a doubt in the same league of any recorded Okatori netsuke.