Isshosai - 5415

Isshusai, Japan

second half 19th century
5,0x2,2x2,0 cm
一秀齋 (Isshusai)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5415

This netsuke represents Fukurokuju, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, and a “Chinese child” (karako, 唐子) behind his back. The latter holds the two ends of a long piece of cloth that is positioned around the deformed head of the deity, which holds in his hands a semi-open roll with the inscription "kannin" (勘忍), which means "patience". Fukurokuju is recognizable because of his disproportional long head, in which, it is said, he holds the wisdom he accumulated during his long life. There are no holes for the cord "himo , that could however pass in between the head of the god and the cloth. The signature Isshusai (一秀齋) is engraved under Fukurokuju’s right foot.

We don’t have any biographical information about this artist, known only thanks to a few of his artworks, recognizable by his strongly characterized signature and it is problematic to define at which school he belonged to. Also thanks to this piece from the Lanfranchi collection it is possible to say that his favourite subjects were the Gods of Fortune, the maritime world and entertainment scenes, that Isshusai always represented with a hilarity and irreverent spirit.