Saishiki netsuke of Shoki the demon queller - Unsigned
In the manner of Yoshimura Shuzan. Osaka, circa 1870
A polychrome saishiki netsuke of Shoki the demon queller. His face bears a determined expression as he pulls up the fabric of his long sleeve to free the movement of a double-bladed sword that he holds in his right hand. His sense of power is suggested by his windswept beard and clothing. Brows pulled together in a frown, he scans the terrain for his nemesis, the oni. The mischievous imp makes a comical appearance in the form of a clasp at his waist, its face hidden from Shoki’s view.
Yoshimura Shuzan was a painter of the Kano school and netsuke maker, working in Osaka in the 18th century. He died in 1773. Examples of his netsuke were illustrated with drawings in the Soken Kisho by Inaba, published in Osaka in 1781 and which listed the names of netsuke craftsmen (among others). Using hinoki (cypress) wood, his carvings were covered in a type of gesso and decorated in polychrome paint. The painted finish served to protect the soft textured wood. Such was his fame that other generations of artists emulated his style, culminating in a fairly prolific output of vividly coloured netsuke from Nagamichi Shuzan in the late 19th century, who signed his name ‘Shuzan’ in homage to the originator of the style. This piece looks to date from around 1860-70, predating the work of Nagamichi Shuzan.
Alexander Benjamin collection