An ivory netsuke of a shaggy dog and pup by Gechu, made in the late 18th or early 19th century, sold for £221,000 at The Julius and Arlette Katchen Collection of Fine Netsuke Part I at Bonhams in London on 8 November. It was a world-record for a piece by the Japanese artist, Gechu (late 18th century), and the second highest price ever for a netsuke sold at auction. The sale made a total of £1,158,000.

Despite Gechu's fame as a carver of netsuke, little is known of him including his residence. For many years he was thought to have lived in Osaka though recently it has been suggested that he may well have been domiciled in Satsuma Province on the island of Kyushu. This netsuke is among his most celebrated work and the piece on which many attributions to Gechu are based.

Suzannah Yip, Director of the Japanese Department, said, "We are delighted with the results of this extraordinary auction. It shows that quality and provenance are paramount in this field of collecting. We are also very proud that Bonhams now holds the top five world records for netsuke ever sold at auction."


Netsuke are tiny sculpted toggles that were used to anchor dangling wallets and containers on to the sashes that bound kimono together. The miniscule ornaments were often made of expensive or rare materials and served to display wealth, taste and social status. Carvers drew on varied themes for these accessories such as nature, folklore, mythology, history, erotica and the grotesque.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Today, the auction house offers more sales than any of its rivals. The main salerooms are in London, New York and Hong Kong. Sales are also held in the UK in Knightsbridge and Edinburgh; in the US, in San Francisco and Los Angeles; in Europe, in Paris and Stuttgart and in Sydney, Australia. Bonhams also 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 forthcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com


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