Japanese Netsuke

19th & 20th Century, Japan

The Mrs. Leslie Fenton Netsuke Collection was a gift to Hartnell College in 1985. Born in Salinas, Marcella Zabala (1903-1987) married Charles S. Howard in 1930. Together they dazzled the world of horseracing with their legendary horse, Seabiscuit. After the death of Howard, Marcella married Leslie Fenton, an actor and noted movie producer who was instrumental in assembling this collection. Although they lived in Santa Barbara, Mrs. Fenton never forgot her connection with Salinas and offered to lend part of this collection for an exhibition at Hartnell Gallery in 1979. A second exhibition followed the next year, both sponsored by the Japanese American Citizens League. The enthusiastic response of the community was a deciding factor in Mrs. Fenton’s decision to ultimately make this the permanent home of her netsuke collection. The fact that she was the great granddaughter of William Hartnell was also an important consideration.

  • Sculpture

Mrs. Leslie Fenton, a descendent of William Hartnell donated this collection of small sculptures originally made to hold a small case (inro) from the sash of the traditional man’s kimono. A wealth of materials and subject matter are incorporated in the miniature masterpieces.

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