Yoshitsugu - 5648
This netsuke depicts a fish wrapped in a bamboo leaf (take, 竹) from which it seems it is trying to escape. The eyes of the animal are made in horn. On the back of the leaf are the holes of the himotoshi and nearby, engraved inside an oval cartouche, there is the signature Yoshitsugu.
The signature characters of this artist, 由次, have two possible readings Yuji or Yoshitsugu and the latter is the prevailing one. In the traditional literature, there is no biographical information about him and only a few netsuke are documented. Yoshitsugu worked in ivory and his favourite subject was a rat on a candle, but also, as proved by this piece, marine subjects. Most likely Yoshitsugu was active in the second half of the nineteenth century.