Posted 2 months ago
This bronze okimono of a dog is about 4.75" (12 cm) long x 4.75" (12 cm) high x a bit less than 2" (4.8 cm) wide, weighs about 1 lb 14 ounces (847 grams) and has the artist's stamp on it. It came with a small wooden marker simulating the lid of a tomobako but was packaged in a cardboard box specific to the artist's work. A large, oval plastic plinth for display was also included.
I have started adding some Japanese metal work to my collection and I am particularly attracted to okimono, small decorative pieces. This artist died in 2006 but was apparently fairly prolific and I found this little dog on an online auction site from a seller in Japan for a very small reserve so bid just a little more and was surprised to win it. The finish is a bit marred in a couple of places which may explain my success. Pieces by this artist typically sell for a bit more. Saegusa made several versions of this dog and named them all, but I do not know what this one was called. There is quite a bit of information about Sotaro Saegusa on the InterWebs, so I merged some of that into a biography for this post.
About the artist:
Sotaro Saegusa was born in 1911 in Aji-cho, Kida-gun, Kagawa Prefecture of Japan. He graduated from the Metallic Engineering Department of Kagawa Prefectural Technical School in 1930 and the Sculpting School of Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Saegusa initially specialized in oil painting and large scale public sculpture. He later worked as a professor at the Nagoya University of Arts until retiring in 1986. Saegusa was a member of the Japan Artists' Association, Japan Sculptors' Association and Shin Kozo Exhibition Paintings Division.
Saegusa won a number of prestigious awards during his career. In 1941, his works were selected for the 8th Shin Kozo Exhibition Western Painting Division and the 15th Imperial Exhibition Sculpture Division and he was invited to take part in the exhibition every year he was active. He was presented the Chunichi Award in the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition at Nagoya in 1958, an award in the Nagoya Japanese Art Exhibition in 1987, the Tokyo Governor's Award in the 65th Shin Kozo Exhibition Sculpture Division for his work "Iku" in 1993, and the Minister of Education Encouragement Award, 71st Shin Kozo Exhibition Sculpture Division for Still Life in 1999. His works are included in the collections of a number of arts museums and displayed in public parks and square in many cities in Japan.
Saegusa continued to work as an artist after his retirement and was still active as an artist into his 90s. After he retired, Saegusa focused on sculptures of animals in bronze and iron and also made incense burners and vases.
Sotaro Saegusa died in 2006.
He is described by some as Takaoka doki artist:
"Takaoka copperware (called Takaoka doki in Japanese) is a type of copperware produced in the area around the city of Takaoka in Toyama prefecture. The various products range from small items such as indoor ornaments, Buddhist tools, and vases to larger items such as temple bells, Buddhist statues, and copper statues.
Takaoka copperware is said to be top class among Japan's copperware production. Most of the anime character statues installed in urban revitalization projects across the country are made with Takaoka copperware. Therefore there are many people in Japan who have unknowingly seen Takaoka copperware. There is also a lively export market and Takaoka copperware is highly regarded in the many countries to which its products are exported.
The notable features of Takaoka copperware are the skillful hands-on casting techniques of the artisans and the polishing, metal carving and inlaying production techniques. These techniques have been combined and developed to create a wealth of styles. People are fascinated when they see the strength, delicacy, and flexibility of Takaoka copperware, which are made so that it takes on a deeper expression over time and can be enjoyed as it changes throughout the years."