Luxury Design, Past & Present
A Meiji period bronze sculpture of a mother and son by Atsuyoshi, she is shown seated on a gnarled rootwood base, with her arm round a crying boy standing by her knee and offering her breast, wearing a short robe, trousers and a cloth incised with Mount Fuji around her head, and bare feet. Signed Atsuyoshi saku, Maruki Shachu seisaku (厚義作、まるき社中製作 (厚義作、丸喜社中製作). Japanese, circa 1880.
Footnote: Atsuyoshi is known for a number of finely modelled bronze studies of both wild and domesticated animals, almost all of them made for the Tokyo based Maruki Company. This is therefore an unusual subject matter for him and Japanese bronzes in general , however Oliver Impey and Joyce Seaman, in ‘Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period’ (in the Ashmolean Museum Collections), pp. 68-69, include a bronze group of a woman who has just finished breast feeding her baby, by Udagawa Kazuo. In the Meiji period the influential first dean of the Tokyo Fine Arts School, Okakura Kakuzō (1862–1913), wrote that students should “call attention to fine artisans and urge the broadening of motifs and materials for sculpture“. He employed the Italian artist Vincenzo Ragusa (1841-1927), amongst other foreign ‘experts’, to encourage an awareness of Western sculpture.