Carved from a sublime piece of ebony wood with red hues and depicting a seated rat nibbling at a fruit. The fur is minutely incised and smoothly polished from centuries of handling. The rodent has a charming expression with slightly raised ears, large eyes inlaid in lustrous black horn and a well-carved tail which curls around underneath the rat, the right paw grasping the tail tightly, forming the himotoshi. The image of the feeding, hungry rat is masterfully achieved. Signed in a rectangular reserve OKATORI 岡隹.
HEIGHT 2.8 cm, LENGTH 4.4 cm
Condition: Very good worn condition. Both ears with very minor wear to the edges.
Provenance: The Gabor Wilhelm Collection.
Okatori was an important member of the Kyoto school and brother to Yamaguchi Okatomo. Wood netsuke are very rare by the artist, and ebony netsuke even rarer. Auction comparison: For another rat by Okatori in ivory see Bonhams, The Julius and Arlette Katchen Collection of Fine Netsuke Part II, 10 May 2017, London, lot 48. For a dark wood study of rat by Okatomo see The Julius and Arlette Katchen Collection of Fine Netsuke Part III, 6 November 2018, London, lot 36.