A beautiful and lively piece, each of the seven rats are depicted in movement grabbing hold of each other. Some are grabbing each other by tail, others seem to be fighting, clawing at each other, and two are even touching their noses, an exchange of affection. The composition is very dense, and each rat is carved sensitively with a high sense of naturalism. Each rat has a different fur coat pattern, some are completely smooth, while others are piebald. There are several openings for himotoshi, however this piece also has the character of an okimono, due to its size. The eyes are inlaid with umimatsu (black coral). The ivory has a very good finish and the signature is found in a polished reserve TOMONOBU. The Artist was a student of Tomochika I and was known to make netsuke and okimono out of ivory.
LENGTH 4.7 CM
Condition: A section of one tail has been replaced and another possibly reattached, there are minor imperfections. Generally, in good condition.
Provenance: Collection of Sam Felton with CITES permit no. 18US59513C/9. Acquired from Sachi Wagner on 21st August 1981 (old invoice available).
Auction comparison: Another netsuke by the artist depicting a group of horses was sold at Christie’s, The House Sale, New York, 5 June 2002, lot 256.