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    Sale 11930

    AN INQUIRING MIND: AMERICAN COLLECTING OF JAPANESE AND KOREAN ART

    15 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 72

    An elaborate soft-metal and bronze sculpture

    MEIJI PERIOD (LATE 19TH CENTURY), SIGNED SHOAMI KATSUYOSHI SEN (CARVED BY SHOAMI KATSUYOSHI; 1832-1908) ON AN INLAID SILVER RESERVE

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    An elaborate soft-metal and bronze sculpture
    Meiji period (late 19th century), signed Shoami Katsuyoshi sen (carved by Shoami Katsuyoshi; 1832-1908) on an inlaid silver reserve
    Constructed as a large lotus with long stalks, flower, buds, leaves and root, finely worked in gold, silver, shakudo, shibuichi, copper and gilt with a swallow perched and seeking for a tadpole on a lotus root, the life-like tadpole, swallow and clam finely carved and chiseled, the hammered leaves richly finished with inlaid gold, the mottled surface resembles the natural texture of the lotus leaves and root, signature on base
    18 in. (45.7 cm.) high
    With original wood box titled Kobo tsubame kaerugo (lotus, swallow and tadpole) on the front side of the lid, signed Shoami Katsuyoshi and cursive monogram on the reverse


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    The fragile balance between peace and violence (see notes for lot 73) is also quietly apparent in Katuyoshi's original work, the manufacture of decorative metal sword fittings such as tsuba, or sword guards. He made the most sumptuous and delicately colored metal inlay pieces for the mountings of the terrifying swords with which the Tokugawa period samurai intended to face the threat of Western interference in their way of life. This fragile co-existence of beauty and violence was given full play in his works of natural subjects like the present swallow perched on a lotus and eyeing a tadpole, his intended prey. A small number of similar pieces with Katsuyoshi's own characteristic coloring of leaves are known in museum's collections, but an equally fascinating piece in the Khalili Collection (No. 7 in Vol. I) of a swallow hunting for insects among lotus leaves shows the same underlying deadliness in the beauty of nature, and the richness of the artist's colored metal palette.
    The early seventeenth century enlightened swordsman and artist Miyamoto Musashi expressed a similar concept in the swordsman's dictum of 'movement in unmoving' in his masterpiece of a shrike on a twig while an oblivious caterpillar moves along the twig below him. Like Katsuyoshi, Musashi also was born in Mimasaka, and it is most likely that Katsuyoshi would have known the painting.

    Provenance

    Private collection, Okayama Prefecture, Japan