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AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND
AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND
AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND
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AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND
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PROPERTY FROM A PRINCELY COLLECTION
AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND

MEIJI PERIOD (LATE 19TH CENTURY), ATTRIBUTED TO ITAO SHINJIRO (1842-1911)

Details
AN IRON ARTICULATED SCULPTURE OF AN EAGLE ON STAND
MEIJI PERIOD (LATE 19TH CENTURY), ATTRIBUTED TO ITAO SHINJIRO (1842-1911)
The iron eagle constructed of numerous hammered plates jointed inside the body, the neck, wings, limbs and claws move, hinged beak opening to reveal a movable tongue, the eyes in shakudo embellished with gilt, the details of feathers finely chiseled, unsigned
15 ¾ in. (40 cm.) long without stand
With wood stand and brocade curtain
Provenance
Bonhams, London, 16 May 2013, lot 563.
Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, Kyoto
Literature
Harada Kazutoshi, ed., Jizai okimono (Articulated Iron Figures of Animals) (Kyoto: Maria Shobo, 2010), pp.56-57, pl.18.
Bakumatsu, Meiji no chozetsu giko, sekai wo kyogaku saseta kinzoku kogei (Excellent Techniques of Metal Crafts, the Late Edo and Meiji Period) (Shizuoka Prefecutre: Sano Museum, October 2010), exh. cat. pl. 164.
Jizai Okimono: Honmono no yo ni jiyu ni ugokaseru hebi ya konchu (Articulated figures: Movable representations from nature from snakes to insects) (Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum, November 2008), exh. cat. pl. 20.
Exhibited
"Bakumatsu, Meiji no chozetsu giko, sekai wo kyogaku saseta kinzoku kogei" (Excellent Techniques of Metal Crafts, the Late Edo and Meiji Period), exhibited at the following venues:
Okayama Prefectural Museum, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture, 3 June-18 July, 2011
Osaka Museum of History, Osaka, 13 April-29 May, 2011
Sano Art Museum, Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 7 January-20 February, 2011
Sen-oku Hakukokan Bunkan Museum, Tokyo, 16 October-12 December, 2010
"Jizai Okimono: Honmono no yo ni jiyu ni ugokaseru hebi ya konchu" (Articulated figures: Movable representations from nature from snakes to insects), Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 18 November, 2008-1 February, 2009

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Lot Essay

Jizai sculpture of birds represents the eagle, raven, rooster, pheasant, pigeon, quail and cormorant. Among these, the eagle is the rarest. To date, only four articulated models of eagles––the present lot and three others––are known. In addition to the eagle here is one in a French private collection that was exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in 1983. Another, signed Myochin Kiyoharu and dated eighteenth century, is in the Tokyo National Museum. The fourth eagle, signed by Itao Shinjiro in an Asian private collection that was exhibited at the Tokyo University of the Arts Museum in 2016.
According to Harada Kazutoshi, the eagle offered here can be attributed to Itao Shinjiro on the basis of an old document describing the work. Itao Shinjiro was born in 1842 in Wakayama Prefecture and moved to Kokawamachi, Higashi-ku, Osaka around 1890–91 (see, Shimomura Hidetoki, “Kiko Itao Shinjiro den––osorubeki dento gijutsu no tososhi” [The Life and Career of Itao Shinjiro––The Revolt of an Eccentric Artist against Traditional Handicraft Techniques], Museum 152, Tokyo National Museum, 1963). Shinjiro excelled in casting, chiseling and hammering metal. His jizai eagle was selected for exhibition at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Other jizai works by Itao Shinjiro include lobsters, crabs and dragons. He extended his skills at articulated animals to a small, moving model of a steamship for which he drew high praise.
Like the great range of motion of the living eagle, this sculpture rotates at the neck and extends the wings and tail feathers. It also has a movable beak and claws. All these movements are remarkably smooth. The mechanism that allows the parts to move is fascinating. The elaborateness of the mechanism that gives the present eagle its marvelous naturalistic qualities demonstrates the advancements in articulated sculpture achieved by metalsmiths of the caliber of Itao Shinjiro in the late nineteenth century.
The eighth-century Chronicles of Japan (Nihon shoki) states that the practice of hawking was introduced in the fourth century, after which it became an important seasonal activity at court. Since the Muromachi period (1392-1573), hawking was taken over largely by the warrior elite, who saw the bird of prey as a symbol of their own bravery and might. So potent was this symbol that the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616) banned trade in hawks in 1604 to emphasize his own hegemony. Imagery of hawks in their wild habitat, in cages or tethered to stands is prevalent on hanging scrolls, screens and sliding doors commissioned by the samurai elite.
In China, imagery of birds of prey traces back to the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). Notable paintings by court artists of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) are mentioned in the the Xuanhe Huapu, a treatise on painting of the Xuanhe era, 1119–25. In Chinese, ying is a homophone with the first character of “hero”, yingxiong. An eagle on rock is a rebus for yingxiong duli, meaning the independent spirit of a hero. A white falcon was depicted by Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1768) as the last work of his prolific career in 1765. This painting is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.

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