Monday, October 25, 2010

Lovers with Horny Toads by Nakamura Masatoshi (1913-2001)



This is exactly the sort of item a gentleman would have in his cabinet of curiosities. Although it is, in fact, a rather late example of Japanese shunga netsuke by Nakamura Masatoshi (1913-2001), who was most active between 1938 and his death; carving fifteen or sixteen netsuke a year.




The secret of these erotic netsuke, of course, is that from one angle at least they would appear to be perfectly innocent.  It is only when viewed from another angle that their true nature becomes clear.




Masatoshi carved at night without using preliminary sketches.  Some of his sculpts he could complete in 12 hours others took up to 175.




This particular example exhibits a delightful tenderness, unlike much of Japanese erotic art which often depicts frenzied sexual activity.  As is usual in Japanese shunga, the lovers remain partially clothed and Masatoshi depicts their patterned garments beautifully; the decoration on them contrasting with the smooth bare limbs of the ivory used for the carving.   




The sculpt works, cleverly, either in a horizontal or vertical position.



A quite delightful piece and an appropriate first posting for this blog.

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