Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection of Netsuke
A Legacy at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Author: Frances Bushell, Hollis Goodall, et al.
Publisher/Date: Art Media Resources Ltd (c. 2003)
Format/Condition: New large cloth hardcover book with dust jacket in Fine condition. 520 pages, index, glossary. Dimensions: 10 x 11.2 x 2 inches. Lavishly illustrated color. Maps.
Description: Netsuke features 820 full color photographs of netsuke with accompanying text that gives a complete overview of changing taste in netsuke collecting throughout its history and into present day. Each netsuke has a detailed description that places the subject in context in Japanese life and history, and gives important information about the carver or technique. Also included are maps of ancient and modern Japan, an illustrated reference of 535 artist's signatures, a glossary, and a detailed index. With 827 netsuke and 20 inro shown in moare than 1,000 color illustrations, this catalogue will delight and inform netsuke collectors and initiate other lovers into this expressive and beautiful art form.
Raymond Bushell, one of the most active and influential netsuke collectors of the 20th century, was a lawyer who lived and worked in Japan for over three decades following World War 2. He began collecting netsuke there when they could be found in great numbers and purchased for reasonable sums. The availability of netsuke at the time coupled with Bushell's collecting zeal resulted in a huge collection of works that exemplify the art form in all its variety. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Raymond and Frances Bushell began loaning works from their collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The first of several gifts took place in 1987 and upon the completion of the donation in 1998, LACMA had received nearly 900 netsuke from the Bushells.
The works on display provide insights into Bushell's personal tastes, collecting objectives, and life-long study of netsuke. Displayed examples include works from the earliest period of netsuke production through the mid-20th century. Genre scenes, revered religious figures, mythical beasts and everyday objects are among the repertoire of motifs exhibited. Additionally, the immense variety of materials in which netsuke carvers worked is evidenced in objects made from ivory, wood, and a host of more uncommon materials such as ceramic, lacquer, deer antler, boar tusk, and glass.
Bushell was committed to the quality of his collection. Even as he was in the process of donating his netsuke to LACMA, he continued to look for pieces to improve the group. Though failing to acquire it in the early 1950s, Bushell purchased the Floating Crane by Kaigyokusai in 1990. It was among his most prized acquisitions and entered LACMA's collection in 1991. Bushell's close relationship with Tokyo carver Masatoshi (1915–2001) is evident. Likewise, the number of works by Kaigyokusai (1813–1892) and SBko (1879–1943) attest to Bushell's liking for the stylizations and treatments used by these carvers.