A very fine ivory netsuke depicting a large male monkey picking fleas off a smaller monkey, which is lying on its stomach, lying straightened out, and visibly enjoying his grooming. Their feets are touching and the overall composition of their bodies is very amusing. The work is very well detailed, the treatment of the fur is masterful, but what stands out are the sensitive and humorous expressions of the monkeys – a characteristic trait for the artist. A genuine netsuke by the great Masanao of Kyoto, though not his most outstanding work, however the facial expressions, composition and manner of carving without a doubt coherent with his style. Natural himotoshi, very good patina and signature in an oval reserve MASANAO.
HEIGHT 3.3 CM, LENGTH 4.1 CM
Condition: Considerable wear and age cracks, the two hands of the smaller monkey have been restored and one hand and the tail of the larger monkey is reattached (please consult further images for more details), one or more eyes are replaced
Provenance: British private collection
Literature comparison: A similar netsuke of a monkey by Masanao is illustrated in The Meinertzhagen Card Index on Netsuke in the Archives of the British Museum Part A, Frederick Meinertzhagen (edited by George Lazarnick), New York, 1986, page 440. Another similar netsuke with the same depiction by Masanao is in the Atchley collection.