I recently subscribed to Kelly Schmidt's email list regarding auction items in Japan and have been drooling over some of the swords, koshirae and armour being offered.
What I didn't expect was to see was something quite different to anything I've ever bought before but never the less, caught my eye and tugged at my heart strings.
And here it is. It's a bronze figurine of a Hawk that I instantly fell in love with.
As a boy, I was fascinated with birds of prey and would sketch and paint pictures of them. There was a falconry centre not far from where I lived that I would visit as often as my parents would allow, my favourite being the Peregrine Falcon.
Takagari was the sport of the elite and noble in Japan just as it was in Europe and therefore a direct connection with Samurai.
As a novice collector of Japanese swords but also a graduate of graphic design, I've come to appreciate the art of simple, clean designs and crispness of line which embodies Japanese products. I don't think it gets any better than this example.
But to be honest, this was far from my mind when I asked Kelly to bid on it. It was more of an impulse decision than anything else.
I have to say that Kelly was a 1st class act in all my communication with him. We instantly hit it off and his enthusiasm for the piece was infectious (which is important in my book) because I trusted him to bid on the auction which he did. My shipping instructions were also demanding but he did all that I asked for and I received the hawk safely and well packed. I can therefore thoroughly recommend his services but as a first time bidder on a Japanese auction, be aware that there are sale taxes and an export tax if the items sells for more than 200,000 yen. Kelly made me aware of this which I really appreciate because I was going to bid more than 200k.
So anyway, here is the Hawk and info about the artist.
Tsuda Shinobu was born in Chiba Prefecture. He studied under Okazaki Sessei and graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1900. In 1902, he returned to the school as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1919. He began exhibiting his work in Meiji 40 or 1907 at the Tokyo Kangyo Hakurankai or Tokyo Industrial Exposition. A juror and exhibitor for the Japanese delegation to the Paris Exposition in 1925, Shinobu was twice decorated by the government of France, in 1928 and again in 1933. In 1935, he became a member of the Teikoku Bijutsuin or Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1937 of the Teikoku Geijutsuin or Imperial Arts Academy. An exhibitor at the Teiten, the Hoshukuten and Shin-Bunten, Tsuda Shinobu was one of the foremost artists working in metal in the decades prior to the Pacific War.
It looks green in these auction photos but actually, and much like a sword, it depends on the light. Sometimes it looks green , sometimes black, sometimes bronze. It's quite extraordinary.