James Rose netsuke collection set for Bonhams auction

Bonhams has announced that it will offer the James A Rose collection of netsuke and sagemono on September 17 in New York.

James Rose netsuke Collection Bonhams
Netsuke (a small carved toggle) would be used to secure a sagemono (a decorative container) to the obi (sash) of a Japanese kimono

The collection, which stars an ivory netsuke of a recumbent Kirin by Okatomo at $25,000-35,000, comes from 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 International Netsuke Society and 23-year president of the Washington DC chapter.

A netsuke is a carved button-like toggle that would fasten a sagemono (a small container used for storing objects) to the obi, or sash, of a traditional Japanese kimono, in the absence of pockets.

Rose had a particular interest in large, early Kyoto school ivories, which is exemplified by a tall netsuke of a Chinese court noble from Japan's Edo period (1603-1868). Valued at $12,000-18,000, it stands over five inches tall, depicting an elegant Chinese figure with an "almost feminine quality".

As well as ivory pieces, many fine wooden netsuke will star, with a "beautifully proportioned" standing horse selling at $10,000-15,000.

Among the most unusual additions to the sale is a large wooden netsuke of a standing sumo wrestler, which is estimated to bring $12,000-18,000. The piece is notable as sumo wrestlers were usually depicted in action, suggesting that this is a likeness of a particular star of the Japanese sport.

The current world record for an inro, a similar container to a sagemono, is held by a Shibata Zeshin example at £301,250 ($467,323).

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