Since most netsuke collectors now collect netsuke out of context (detached from the inro and pipecases, and now sitting on their display case shelves), Norman Sandfield has built what is possibly the world’s largest collection of netsuke, okimono, and related Japanese arts to answer some important historic questions, such as “How were netsuke worn?” and “Did women wear netsuke?” And “How did the artists of the 19th century see netsuke as part of the clothing of the period?” Since most netsuke and sagemono ensembles were originally worn, mostly by men, and on the rear hip, they do not show up in most woodblock prints, which show people facing the viewer. This is part of the difficulty of documenting netsuke in a correct historic perspective, which goes far beyond just collecting beautiful carvings.
Norman Sandfield currently owns more than 167 objects, including more than 81 Japanese woodblock prints, which illustrate netsuke, inro, and other sagemono. The Japanese woodblock prints include: actors, sumo, shunga (erotic subjects), and surimono. They can also be divided into groups such as: people wearing netsuke ensembles, people holding them, ensembles loosely sitting on the ground (mostly in Sumo), and alone (no people; mostly in Surimono). Other objects in the collection that illustrate how netsuke and the ensembles were worn, used, or seen, include: netsuke, okimono, kimono, obi, sword fittings, scarves, scrolls, etc.
His presentation will show much of his collection and encourage even more questions, not all of which are answered easily.
The early parts of this collection were exhibited at the Netsuke Kenkyukai Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1983, and some of the prints were used in a netsuke book and exhibition at Mikimoto Pearl in Tokyo, organized by the Nihon Netsuke Kenkyukai (Japan Netsuke Study Society), with the exhibition catalogue published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group, in 1995/1996. Other prints from his collection have been used by the Toledo Museum of Art to accompany a netsuke exhibition.
Norman Sandfield bought his first netsuke while working in Japan in July 1968, and has been a dealer specializing in netsuke since January 1, 1978. His most important publication is The Ultimate Netsuke Bibliography: An Annotated Guide to Miniature Japanese Carvings (1999). The database for that bibliographic information (originally 4,400 records) is now up to more than 8,500 records, and continually growing. His most recent book is Ichiro: Master Netsuke Carver, with illustrations of more than 150 netsuke, okimono, and ojime by the popular 20th century netsuke artist Ichiro Inada. This is one of the very few books dedicated to the work of a single netsuke artist. His very useful and modest pocket-sized publications are: The "Cheat Sheet" for Netsuke Signatures: A guide to 102 of the most common and important Japanese characters found in netsuke signatures; and The Inro Knot Booklet: A step-by-step illustrated guide to tying different knots for hanging medicine boxes. Both of these are available in old-school paper editions and digital versions through his website, www.internetsuke.com
, which contains several other serious online resources for netsuke enthusiasts and researchers.
Norman Sandfield has already donated more than 5,000 volumes from his netsuke library to create the Sandfield Netsuke Library at the Toledo Museum of Art Library and hopes to send his last 1,000 or so volumes this year. This research library is open and available to the public, without appointment. The Sandfield Netsuke Library matches the C. V. S. Roosevelt Library at LACMA in Los Angeles, in both size and depth, and it currently surpasses the Roosevelt Library in accessibility. The catalog of the Museum’s library is also available online at: http://toledo.spydus.com/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/MSGTRN/OPAC/HOME
and the Sandfield Netsuke Library at: http://toledo.spydus.com/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/MSGTRN/SAN/BSEARCH
. This library will be a center for much future netsuke research. For more information, contact Norman Sandfield or the Toledo Museum of Art Library.
In 1976, Norman Sandfield founded the first local netsuke collectors group, the Chicago Netsuke Society, and was President from 1976 to 1995. For all of this and more, he was presented with the International Netsuke Society’s prestigious Silver Kirin Award at their New York Convention in 2009.
Our meeting will be held at The Bohemian National Hall
, 321 E. 73rd St in Manhattan. Please arrive at 2:00 P.M. The lecture will start at 2:10 P.M
. The Bohemian National Hall will be presenting "The Asia Art Fair," which will be held March 13 - 17. Events manager,Michaela Boruta
and the management of The Bohemian National Hall
will, very generously, be providing their cinema room for our meeting and lecture. They will also give each attendee of our meeting a complimentary admission
to The Asia Art Fair after our meeting. The fair hours on that Saturday will be 12 P.M. - 8 P.M. For more information about the fair, go to http://www.theasiaartfair.com