Okimono or sculpture in the form of a pair of stylized, Galapagos
giant tortoises. Of cast and patinated bronze. Each signed on the reverse with a
chiseled signature by the artist: Haruji Saku or Made by Haruji (Haruji
Naitō, 1895 - 1979). Shōwa Era, circa 1942.
With the tomobako or original box, inscribed on the exterior of the lid: Zō-game
or Elephant Tortoises; and on the reverse of the lid titled: Kinchō or
Quiet Tension, and signed: Naitō Haruji Saku or Made by Naitō
Haruji, and sealed.
Haruji Naitō was born in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, a region famed for its iron
casting tradition. He exhibited at both the Teiten and the Shin-Bunten.
After the Pacific War, Naitō exhibited widely at the Nitten, for which he
was honored as a judge. The Tokyo School of Art made him an honorary professor,
and in 1954 he won a Japan Arts Academy prize. The Japanese government
distinguished him with the purchase of his work, and Haruji Naitō was chosen to
cast the sacred mirror for the Imperial Shrines at Ise.
For other examples of his work, c.f. the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art catalogue,
Modernism and Craftsmen: the 1920's to the 1930's, pages 94 - 101,
numbers 71 - 80. Number 80 in that catalogue illustrates another pair of
Elephant Tortoises, dated to 1942.
Larger tortoise: 2 7/8” high x 5 ½” long x 4” wide.
Smaller tortoise: 2 ½” high x 5” long x 3 ½” wide.