Fine Japanese Works of Art from the Edward Wrangham Collection (Online only) / A rare tonkotsu (tobacco box) and kiseruzutsu (pipecase) By Kaigyokudo Masateru, late 19th century (2)
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木製漆塗きせる筒 鯰形 一点
Provenance: purchased at Christie's, London, 1968.
Wrangham collection, no.871 for the tonkotsu, no.872 for the pipe case.
Published: E. A. Wrangham, The Index of Inro Artists, Alnwick, Harehope Publications, 1995, p.169, Masateru, Kaigyokudo, left.
Masateru was the grandson of Kaigyokusai Masatsugu and worked mainly with wood. He lived in Osaka at the end of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century. The signatures on the tonkotsu and the kiseruzutsu read: Made by Kaigyokyudo, resident near a village shrine in the port of Naniwa (an old name for Osaka), in the mizuno-e-tora (year of the tiger ).
The subject is often said in Western references to be the deity Kadori Myojin, although this information cannot be found in any Japanese source. It is perhaps more likely that the artist intended to depict the famous subject of 'Catching a Catfish with a Gourd,' best known from a National Treasure painting by Josetsu in the Taizoin Temple, Kyoto. A lively recent English-language discussion of Josetsu's painting, which was in part intended as an allegory on the difficulty of attaining enlightenment, can be found at http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/dictio/kaiga/fushigi.html.
The Edward Wrangham Collection of Japanese Art: Part VI, lot 66.