Shounsai Joryu was an expert in creating small figural netsuke such as this piece, he is said to have been an early master working from 1800-1840 in Edo. Depicted is a rare subject, though some examples are known by the carver. The lucky deity Benten is seated next to Hojo Tokimasa, holding a basket with the three dragon scales, which he later adopted for his mon-crest. The dragon which is usually shown in this depiction is perhaps only hinted at, as Benten’s feet form the mouth of a dragon. The work is made with great sensitivity and attention to detail, despite its small size. Natural himotoshi, signed SHOUNSAI 升雲齋 on the underside.
HEIGHT 2.9 cm, LENGTH 3.9 cm
Provenance: British private collection.
Condition: The details slightly worn and a minor age crack on the base - generally, in very good condition.
Literature comparison: A similar netsuke signed Shounsai is 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 263.
Auction comparison: A similar netsuke by Shounsai Joryu was sold at Van Ham, Netsuke, June 8 2017, Cologne, lot 1506.