|period||Late Edo (ca. 1850)|
|designation||NBTHK Hozon Tosogu Fuchigashira|
|Jukakushi Ishiguro Koreyoshi (kao)|
|dimensions||9.75 cm x 1.4 cm|
The Ishiguro school was founded by Masatsune, a student of Kato Naotsune and Yanagawa Naomasa. He took his name from one character of each of his teachers. Masatsune was born in 1760 and his Ishiguro school is a direct offshoot of the Yokoya school, as Naomasa was the best direct student of Yokoya Somin.
The Ishiguro school's style is based in the work of Somin as a result of this, and over time developed its own themes, frequently representing birds and peaceful scenes of great beauty. Their primary material is gold on shakudo, but they took it to flamboyant and gorgeous styles which were distinct from the work of their ancestors in Yokoya.
Though Masatsune was far above average in skill, he trained two extremely and equally talented masters in Masayoshi and Masaaki that would stand at the very pinnacle of Edo period tosogu craftsmanship. During their time the Ishiguro school became quite famous and featured many other highly skilled smiths, including two additional generations of Masatsune, Koretsune, Yoshitaka, Moriaki, Masaharu, Teruaki, Koreyoshi, Yoshitaka, Yoshitsugu, Masahiro, Masachika, and Teruaki. When Masatsune gave out characters of his name to those he taught, he used the Masa (政) character for his students and Tsune (常) for his blood relatives. So in this was we know that Koretsune is among the children of Masatsune.
Masatsune lived between 1760 and 1828, dying at the age of 69. The second generation Masatsune took over the school, but this did not last long and is likely due to his early death. This made Ishiguro Masayoshi the third head master and recorded this fact in his signature. The final master of the school was the third generation Masatsune.
Masatsune had what seems to be two sons, Koretsune who was the oldest, and the nidai Masatsune who originally had a name of Masamori. Koretsune did not inherit the school which seems to also indicate an early death for him, possibly before the Shodai Masatsune himself died. No birth and death dates are known for the 2nd generation Masatsune either. So it would seem unusual to have two generations of Masatsune working at the same time, and an alternate explanation for this is simply that Koretsune signed daimei for his father. Or as above, he may not have existed and is a transcription error in later works of the Shodai's original name.
Masayoshi signed into his mei that he was the 3rd generation Ishiguro master on some pieces. So it seems then that Koretsune, then Masatsune first generation, then Masatsune second generation all died in rapid succession. This left Masayoshi standing as the senior student and the inheritor of the school while the third generation Masatsune was too young to do so.
One of the direct students of the first generation Masatsune was Masahiro, who was given the responsibility of training the third generation Masatsune after the deaths of the first and second generation Masatsune. The third generation Masatsune originally had the name of Shigetsune and is the son of the second generation Masatsune. When Shigetsune was old enough he changed his name to Masatsune and took over the Ishiguro school from Masayoshi some time in the middle 1800s as its fourth master. He would work until the Meiji era.
[Koreyoshi] together with his father [Masayoshi] is regarded as one of the most influential and representative artists of the Ishiguro school and we know of dated pieces from the Tenpō era (天保, 1830-1844).
He worked in the characteristic style of the Ishiguro school, namely shakudō-nanako and takabori-iroe interpretations of floral and bird motifs. It is verified that he lived at least until the 20th year of Meiji (明治, 1877). NBTHK Juyo Nado Zufu
Ishiguro Koreyoshi was the second son of Ishiguro Masayoshi bearing the name of Kanjiro (寛次郎) and was himself an extremely talented maker. There is at least one dated work (Tenpo 3, 1832) so we know he was active at this time. He trained both under Masatsune and Masayoshi, and his name is made up of one character form both (taking the Kore from Masatsune's original name of Koretsune). He is considered one of the top four makers of the Ishiguro school, along with Masatsune, Masayoshi and Masaaki.
Masatsune was succeeded by two following generations. The artisan known by the name Koretsune was the second son of the Shodai (first generation). The most outstanding artisan who came out of the Shodai's studio was Masayoshi born An'ei 1 (1772). He was most active during Bunsei (1818-29) and Tenpo (1830-43) days but the date of his death is unknown. Koreyoshi, Masayoshi's son, and Masaaki from Shodai Masatsune's school were also highly skilled artisans and have been included, together with Masayoshi, in the rank of the representatives of the Ishiguro School.
Masayoshi's son, Koreyoshi, was just as skilled as the father. His representative works include the dai-sho paired tsuba entitledA golden pheasant and sparrows and peonies growing by a rock.The design is presented on a shakudo-nanako ground occupying it fully with iroe-combined takabori art. NBTHK Token Bijutsu English
Koreyoshi is said to have taken over the name of Masayoshi when Masayoshi died and this would make him the fourth and last mainline master of the Ishiguro school. There is variation in the mei of Masayoshi so it's possible some of this variation is due to the handing over of the line to Koreyoshi. This happened only very late in the career of Masayoshi though, as he lived to the age of 87. It's said that much of the training of the Ishiguro school during the expansion under Masayoshi was done under the teaching of Koreyoshi.
Koreyoshi's first name was Kanjiro (寛次郎) and he used the go Jugakusai (寿岳斎), Juosai (寿翁斎), Juo (寿翁) and Jukakusai (寿雀斎). Because his father, Masayoshi, was so productive, it is assumed that Koreyoshi was in charge of training many of Masayoshi's students, and he also produced works and executed his father's signature. One of the reasons that Koreyoshi's works are rare is because his father had lived, on the one hand to the great age of 87 or 88 and had, on the other hand, changed his signature from Koreyoshi to Masayosh. The signatures that Koreyoshi used as Masayoshi featured thicker strokes than those of Masayoshi shodai. Like his father, he too used a stylized variant of the character for horu (彫) for his monogram and he also signed, amongst others, with supplements such as horu (鋲,carved by) or a cursive variant of tsukuru (造,made by), tsukuru (作,made by).
There are five examples of Koreyoshi's work that have passed Juyo under his name. As mentioned, his work is more rare than the other top Ishiguro smiths due to his responsibilities to his father. He is ranked as Joko in the Kinko Meikan as a superior craftsman.
Hozon Ishiguro Koreyoshi Fuchigashira
This fuchigashira shows off all of the remarkable skill of the Ishiguro smiths. The nanako are laid down with extreme precision and create a silky texture to the eye. Elsewhere gold, silver, shibuichi, shakudo and copper are used to give color to the scene in very subtle shades when viewed under magnification. This work as per his reputation is the equal of Masayoshi.
As pheasants are one of the most typical Ishiguro subjects, it makes this one a nice example to have in a collection, especially if trying to show a wide range of smiths from this school. This one is signed along with his Go, which is a nickname that a smith would apply to himself and can change many times through his life. In this case it is
There is a very slight ding in the top part of the kashira, but otherwise it is in perfect condition.
This fuchigashira was formerly held in what is probably the best collection of late Edo to Meiji period sword fittings in Japan, the Kiyomizu Sanninzaka Museum run by Masayuki Murata. He is an art collector of the first tier. This piece is documented in one of the museum books, on page 85 below. It's rare to get a chance to acquire such an item that belonged to this level of collection.
The Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, which opened in 2000, was Japan’s first museum with permanent displays of artworks such as late Edo and Meiji era cloisonné, metalwork, makie lacquerware, and kyo-satsuma ceramics. The works on display here have all been collected by the museum’s director, Masayuki Murata, over a span of more than 30 years and are one and all examples of a now impossible to recreate high-level technique and unique sensibility.
From childhood, Murata loved beautiful and interesting things, and from the time he first became self-aware he began collecting items like rocks, insects, and stamps. He especially liked collecting butterflies with their richly colored, beautifully patterned wings, tirelessly examining their bodies’ intricate structure and the luster of their scales with a magnifying glass. Perhaps for that reason the museum holds in its collection numerous artworks having butterfly motifs. As an adult, while continuing his collecting ways with fossils and meteorites he also became interested in intricate handiwork, which led him to begin buying handicrafts from the various countries along the Silk Road as well as Central and South America, and in addition western ceramics and the glassware of Émile Gallé.
While involved in these activities, Murata encountered Japan’s Meiji era handicraft arts. Enthralled with beauty of such concentration and polished perfection, he has devoted his energies from that time forward to the collection of and research into Meiji artistic handicrafts.
The present exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of the museum’s opening, and from the diverse collection Murata has spent his life assembling, numerous pieces acquired prior to his encounter with Meiji handicraft art have been chosen with an eye to illuminating the origins of his artistic sensibility. Kyoto Artbox 20th Anniversary Exhibition Masayuki Murata
This fuchigashira comes in a custom fit box. It is ranked at Hozon for authenticity. I guarantee Tokubetsu Hozon passage for life for this fuchigashira or full refund. Sometimes collectors in Japan only submit for Hozon to get authenticity and save a bit of money, and that is the case here. The quality ranks with Juyo works and this is a great item for collectors interested in this school, by a hard to find maker in spite of his high ranking in Ishiguro.