Tomotada - standing ox netsuke

Kyoto, circa 1800

A standing ox, its head lowered and looking up to the right.  The body is massive, while short legs are almost overwhelmed by the bulk, in the typical manner of Tomotada’s standing oxen. The sharply defined dewlap’s ribbon-like flow enhances the sense of movement and the mouth seems poised to make its presence known with a low.  A short halter is fixed to the nose ring and tied at its neck.

A small restoration to one brow and eye is noted in Sotheby’s catalogue of the Newstead collection and its colour has faded to a pinkish tone with time.

Some mystery remains about the carver of these short-legged wood oxen. The features of the carving echo those of the master’s style, but the signatures are lightly incised in rounded reserve. All are oxen, with the exception of one wood Raiden. It is likely that this is a pupil’s or follower’s work.

Signed in an oval reserve: Tomotada
Height: 4.2cm

Provenance:
Martin Newstead collection
Published:
Hurtig, B., Masterpieces of Netsuke Art, Tokyo and New York, 1973, p. 148, pl.592
Lazarnick, G., MCI, New York, 1986, p.910

Signature Tomotada