As part of our Japanese works of art collection we are delighted to offer this quite dramatic Meiji Period 1868-1912, carved wood and lacquered figural group depicting a battle between a Japanese fisherman and a large Octopus, or devil fish as it was also known, this type of wares were also known as Iki Ningyo ( living doll) the artist has captured the battle in staggering lifelike detail, every muscle on the fisherman being strained as he battles to kill his quarry, the Octopus tentacles entwined upon every limb of its captor, only the safety net of the knife will surely render the fisherman the winner of this battle, the images speak for themselves.
These incredible lifelike studies of everyday people and scenes of Japan were known as Iki Ningyo which literally means living doll, such was the skill of these artists to replicate the anatomical form in such fine detail, originally life size studies were used in the domestic market at shrines and as part of fairs and exhibitions, however once picked up on by the emerging wealthy tourists and early visitors to Japan, a new eager audience created a demand for smaller more intricate models of characters going about their daily lives, rickshaw pullers and market traders were some of the more common models. Museums in Europe and the USA were inspired to commission life size studies of people, including Samurai , with a pair of 224 cm high Sumo wrestlers now residing in the Sheffield museum having been gifted to them in 1891 by a patron emigrating to Japan.
Remarkably we have been able to trace this exact sculpture to a publication edited by Frank Brinkley, a famous ex military man , journalist and promoter of Japanese language and the arts of the Meiji period, Brinkley not only taught the Japanese military his naval skills but also worked for the Emperor Meiji in other capacities promoting Japan. In 1881 until his death in 1912 his business as the owner of the Japan mail, soon to be known Japan Times, was essentially part funded by the government due in part to its staunch pro Japanese stance, this publication was widely read by the English speaking population in Asia.
Brinkley’s book entitled Japan : described and illustrated by the Japanese . Boston : J.B.Millet Company, 1897-1898. Imperial edition.
As well as the hand colored plate of the group resting upon a cork ground you will note a paragraph from Brinkley describing what he sees whilst exclaiming the incredible skill of the artists carving such pieces.
Some 125 years since this publication I am absolutely thrilled to be able to offer this rare item to the market as part of this years exhibition.
Condition report :
Remarkable condition .
Approximate Sizes :
Length : 18″ 46 cm
Height : 19 1/4″ 49.5 cm
Depth : 10″ 25.5 cm
Free worldwide delivery and a certificate of authenticity are included in the price of this item .