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A Japanese Ivory Okimono

By Toshio, Meiji Period, circa 1890

Realistically carved as a rat nibbling a cucumber, inlaid cowhorn eyes, carved wood stand, signed Toshio

9 in (23 cm) wide
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At the 1900 Paris Exhibition, Gallé exhibited a similar commode called Ipomoea, which was well received, and is now in the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Its exhibition inspired the commission of the present commode, Nocturne, for the important collector Henry Hirsch of Nancy. Hirsch did not like the discrete marquetry on the Ipomoea commode, so requested something different. The same framework was used but the morning glories on the broad panels of the Ipomoea were replaced by chrysanthemums and a mother-of-pearl butterfly. It is believed that no other Nocturne commode was ever made and this piece can be regarded as an undiscovered treasure.