An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854
Lot 131
An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, inscribed with the hall name 'Xingyouheng Tang of the Fifth Prince Ding', possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854
Sold for HK$ 420,000 (US$ 54,109) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854 An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854
An inscribed dendritic chalcedony 'hawk and pine tree' snuff bottle
The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, inscribed with the hall name 'Xingyouheng Tang of the Fifth Prince Ding', possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854
6.38cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 2, no. 362

    玉髓雕雄鷹松石圖鼻煙壺
    巧雕潑墨大師,頒賜品,第五代定親王「行有恒堂」隸款,或為御製品,也許是宮廷作坊作的,北京,1800-1854

    The Ink-play Master's Princely Chalcedony

    Dendritic chalcedony with red pigment; well hollowed, with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; carved in relief with a continuous, predominantly cameo design of a hawk in a pine tree growing from behind a rocky outcrop, looking back over its shoulders towards a crescent moon, beneath which is inscribed in clerical script Xingyouheng Tang ('Hall of Constancy')
    The Cameo Ink-play Master, Official School, possibly imperial, possibly palace workshops, Beijing, 1800–1854
    Height: 6.38 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.7/1.43 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline

    Condition: slight nibbles on the main-side outer footrim trimmed, but still visible to the naked eye; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd. (1983)
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1983), Eric Young
    Sotheby's, London, 3 March 1987, lot 86

    Published:
    Paul Moss 1983, pp. 170 and 171, no. 111
    JICSBS, Autumn 1983, back cover
    Art at Auction 1987, p. 380
    Kleiner 1987, no. 166
    JICSBS, Summer 1987, p. 23
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 233
    Kleiner 1995, no. 274
    Treasury 2, no. 362

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    Commentary:
    This is very obviously the work of the Cameo Ink-play Master of the Official School, discussed under Sale 1, lot 40. It is included here because of its princely mark, which adds weight to our belief that the Cameo Ink-play Master worked at the palace workshops for a while, or at least worked for the court.

    The placing of the mark on this bottle may imply that it was specifically commissioned for the fifth Prince Ding rather than added to an existing bottle that came into his possession. As a rule, he added his name to the foot of a bottle, but here it becomes part of the main decoration, like an inscription on a painting. This may be because the foot is unusually small and leaves little room for calligraphic expression. We have left a little leeway in the dating range, but suspect it is most likely to date from about 1810–1854. There is one other bottle with a very similar mark added to the main side of a rounded-rectangular bottle with an imperial poem inscribed on the other side (Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 186, also illustrated in Chinese University of Hong Kong 1998, no. 93); it is obviously closely related in calligraphic style, and, although we have not had the opportunity to examine it other than in illustration, both appear to be from the same hand, both copy the same calligraphic model, or one copies the other.

    An intriguing feature of this example, which is the only one where an inscription allows us some secondary evidence as to this master's period of manufacture, is that it is not quite up to the standards of the very best of the school. The interpretation of the material is inspired, with minutely dendritic areas used for the pine-needles, an extraordinary area of cell-like markings for the gnarled tree trunk, exactly matching the irregular plates of bark that cover a mature pine, and black speckled inclusions used on the rocky outcrop as moss. The interpretation of the material could not have been better, although the darker ring around the eye is not natural. It is added in a deep red pigment of some sort, the same that fills the inscription, so probably original. It is the carving, if anything, that falls slightly short of the master's finest works. The separation of planes between ground and relief, and the finishing of the ground plane are just a fraction short of his usual perfection. Perhaps this master began to lose the extraordinary commitment that allowed his visionary genius to be expressed in terms of complete technical mastery as his career progressed, and this represents his later output. Another unusual feature here is that the only carving not in cameo relief, in the sense of using a different colour in the stone to define a particular area of relief work, is in a series of four bare branches, each bifurcating at its end, which extend from the foliage of the tree on either side. As a rule, his works are a more complex and subtle blend of all the colours in the stone, including the ground colour. Here these additions seem almost a reflexive response to acquired style rather than an aesthetically irreducible element. Their absence would not diminish the work of art, whereas on most of his works one gets the feeling that nothing could be added or removed without violating perfection, as one does with all great art. Another slight indication, perhaps, of the swan-song of an artistic career.

    To cavil over such a masterpiece seems as tactless as to point out the minor shortcomings of a great opera star, marginally past prime but still adored by the audience. By any normal standards, this carving would be considered extremely impressive, indeed, masterly, but it is worth being hypercritical in this case because of the possible dating implications for this master's works.

    To counter this hair-splitting criticism, one only has to look at the inspirational use of the material and the ink-play of its application, which extends to the use of this unusual, elongated oval shape, perfectly matching the subject. One might be able to eliminate the extended branches of the tree without offence to the work of art, but one could not alter the shape without aesthetic violence.

    The eagle and the bear signify heroism. However, since an eagle (ying) is fierce-looking and strong by nature, it is sometimes represented on its own as a pictorial pun for a person outstanding in virtue and valour (ying). In this case, whether it is perched on the branch of a pine tree on one leg or both legs, it would invariably conjure up the phrase yingxiong duli, which means 'a hero stands alone, peerless.' The pine, a symbol of high integrity, reinforces the incorruptible quality expected of a hero.

    潑墨大師有恒心,載銓親王得寶物

    含樹枝狀斑紋的玉髓與紅顏料;掏膛完整,平唇,斂平底,突出圈足,足底完全接觸地面; 浮雕猛禽棲松看月亮圖,多半是巧雕法,月亮下有"行有恒堂"四字隸款
    巧雕潑墨大師,頒賜品,或為御製品,也許是宮廷作坊作的, 北京, 1800~1854年
    高﹕ 6.38 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.7/1.43 厘米
    蓋﹕ 碧璽

    狀態敘述﹕
    正面圈足外緣有肉眼看得見的削減過的微小咬口;此外,出坊狀況

    來源:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd (1983)
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd (1983)
    Eric Young
    蘇富比,倫敦,1987年3 月3日,拍賣品號 86

    文獻﹕
    Paul Moss 1983, 頁 170 及 171, 編號 111
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》(JICSBS), 1983年秋期,封底
    Art at Auction 1987, 頁 380
    Kleiner 1987, 編號 166
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》(JICSBS), 1987年夏期,頁 23
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號 233
    Kleiner 1995, 編號 274
    Treasury 2, 編號 362

    展覽﹕
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
    香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
    National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年2月
    大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月

    說明:
    本壺顯然是巧雕潑墨大師所作的頒賜品;參閱 第一場拍賣會, 拍賣品號 40。因為"行有恒堂"四字隸款落在壺腹而形成圖案的一個成分,我們推測本壺是特別為了第五代定親王載銓(1794~1854年)作的,不是定親王在已經雕成的煙壺上追加了堂款。 我們的斷代幅度還是比較寬, 如果要說明確一點,我們想本壺製作於1810~1854年間的可能性最大。本壺以外,還有一件壺腹帶類似的堂款的 (冼祖謙、許建勳、鄺溥銘 1996, 編號 186和 Chinese University of Hong Kong 1998, 編號 93);它也雕有御作詩,書體以像本壺的。

    詳細論述,請參閱本壺的英文說明。

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