The James A. Rose collection of netsuke and sagemono comes to auction at Bonhams New York

17 Sep 2013, The James A. Rose Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono
The James A. Rose Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono

The James A. Rose collection of netsuke and sagemono comes to auction at Bonhams New York

17 Sep 2013, The James A. Rose Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono

NEW YORK — Bonhams is pleased to offer the James A Rose collection of Netsuke and Sagemono on September 17 at the Madison Avenue salesroom. As one of America's most dedicated and knowledgeable netsuke enthusiasts, James A Rose, MD (1931–2011) was a Member of the Board of Directors of the prominent International Netsuke Society and served for 23 years as the President of the Washington DC chapter. His esteemed collection, containing fine examples from a diversity of schools, will be offered in its entirety.

Rose was a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School. He went on to become a Commissioned Officer in the Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), were he was an acclaimed diagnostician and pioneering virologist. He was given his first netsuke – a Japanese sculptural toggle connecting a man's obi (sash) on his pocket-less kosode (robe) with his hanging sagemono (purse), first made popular in the 17th century - by his mother. As an outdoorsman with an endless curiosity for the natural world, Rose was initially attracted to netsukes in the form of animals, although he became increasingly enthralled with older pieces that strongly referenced Japanese culture and folklore.

The collection contains a plethora of notable highlights. The auction's top lot is an ivory netsuke of a recumbent Kirin by Okatomo, from Edo period Kyoto (est. $25,000-35,000), while Rose's interest in large and early Kyoto school ivories is exemplified by a tall ivory netsuke of a Chinese court noble from the Edo Period (est. $12,000-18,000). Standing over five inches tall, the youthful and elegant Chinese figure has an exotic and almost feminine quality.

Many fine wooden netsukes are also included, such as a voluminous and beautifully proportioned Edo period standing horse – a character more commonly seen carved in ivory (est. $10,000-15,000). At nearly five inches, a large wood netsuke of a standing sumo wrestler is notable for both its height and its unusual subject matter (est. $12,000-18,000). Generally, sumos were depicted in action, and it is possible this netsuke is in fact a likeness of a particular wrestler.

"Dr Rose is remembered as a generous expert who was always willing to share his wisdom and experience, especially with emerging collectors," said Jeff Olson, the Director of the Japanese Department at Bonhams New York. "We are very pleased to bring this distinguished collection to auction. It is without a doubt one of the finest private collections of netsuke I have handled during my career."

Bonhams will offer the James A Rose Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono on September 17 in New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams September 13-17.

A complete catalog is available online at


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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