Published: Illustrated in ‘Masterpieces of Netsuke Art’, Bernard Hurtig, New York, 1973, page 98, no. 351
This charming netsuke of a rat is made from ivory, which is very unusual for the artist who was known to work almost exclusively in wood. It is known however that he started a school in Kyoto later in his life and a majority of the work recorded in ivory comes from this time. His style is however unmistakable in this piece, it is beautifully stained and remarkably finished. Its expression is very naturalistic – the rat has a pointed snout with visible teeth, whiskers and large bulging eyes. Its well-carved ears are laid back and it is raising its bony paw to scratch its ear, displaying a sense of satisfaction, even though it is feeding on a candle, which is probably not the most nutritious meal. There is great detail to the underside and especially to the long tail, which curls around forming the himotoshi and ending up on its side. The TOMOKAZU signature is also unmistakable, inside a polished reserve, omitting the additional stroke by the character tomo.
HEIGHT 3.3 CM, LENGTH 3.8 CM
Condition: Several age cracks, otherwise excellent condition
Provenance: Ex Hazu collection, then collection of Sam Felton with CITES permit no. 18US59513C/9. Purchased from Bernard Hurtig, with invoice from The International Netsuke Collectors Society dated September 26, 1975 (old invoice available).
Literature: Compare to examples in wood of rats by Tomokazu 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 898-899.