An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900
Lot 9
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900
Sold for HK$ 93,750 (US$ 12,091) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900 An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900 An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900 An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900 An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle
Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, dated 1900
5.79cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 4, no. 522

    水晶內畫陶淵明鼻煙壺
    葉仲三,北京祟文區杏仁齋,1900年作

    An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Tao Yuanming' snuff bottle

    Crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a flat lip and flat foot; painted on one main side with a Confucian, a Daoist, and a Buddhist seated around a rock table, taking tea beneath a pine tree, the other main side with Li Jing and Hongfu nü bidding Curly Whiskers farewell after they have become sworn friends; inscribed in draft script 'Executed by Ye Zhongsan at the capital in the fourth month of the year gengzi', with one seal of the artist, yin ('seal'), in negative seal script
    Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, fourth month, 1900
    Height: 5.79 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.47 cm
    Stopper: pearl; turquoise collar

    Condition: Original material: some icy flaws in the stone coming out across the lip. Painting: studio condition

    Provenance:
    Christies, London, 5 April 1971, lot 93
    Hugh Moss (1987)

    Published:
    JICSBS, Autumn 1982, p. 27, figs. 63 and 63a
    Kleiner 1995, no. 406
    Treasury 4, no. 522

    Exhibited:
    British Museum, London, June–November 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997
    Christie's, London, 1999

    On Curly Whiskers, see Sale 2, lot 47.

    We have previously identified the three companions having tea as Tao Yuanming (on the right) and his friend Lu Xiujing (406 – 477) visiting Monk Huiyuan (334–416), who resided on Mount Lu in Jiangxi province. The trio are more often depicted in a composition entitled Huxi sanxiao ('Three [Friends] having a good laugh at Tiger Stream'), illustrating a legend about how Huiyuan unwittingly broke his rule of not going beyond Tiger Stream when he found himself having crossed it deep in conversation with his two friends, Tao and Lu, as he saw them off after their visit. As soon as they realized what had happened, all three burst into laughter. In fact, by the time Lu Xiujing took up residence on Mount Lu at around 55, Tao would have been 96, and Huiyuan would have been 127, so this incident clearly never happened. The popularity of the legend can probably be attributed to its symbolic meaning as showing a harmonious relationship between the Three Teachings: Huiyuan represents Buddhism, of course, and Lu Jingxiu was an important Daoist teacher; seeing Tao Yuanming as a Confucian is not at all surprising if one is familiar with the many works in which he longs to communicate with the ancient Confucian sages and if one remembers that happiness in poverty is a Confucian value straight out of the Analects. Refusal to aid and abet a corrupt administration is also a Confucian stance. Syncretism or the search for common ground between Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism occupied the minds of many thinkers in China from the Song dynasty on down, so the story about these three friends was enjoyed and perpetuated for centuries, even though there were always a few scholars who tried to point out the impossibility of the meeting depicted on this bottle.

    Recently, we have learned from a chapter in Ni Yibin 2008 that there is another trio representing the Three Teachings: the Song-dynasty friends Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, and Foyin. A blue-and-white brush holder in the Shanghai Museum depicts them standing around a vat of famous Tang-dynasty vinegar having a taste. Japanese versions of this theme exploit it for its comic value, but the story was mostly ignored in China. On the present snuff bottle, then, we have neither Tiger Stream nor a vat of vinegar; the three gentlemen surely have tea in that pot. But their dress and hair (or lack thereof) make it clear that they represent the Three Teachings. Is this a generalized theme, or is it a simplified version of (probably) the tiger Stream story?

    For another example of this rare combination of subjects for Ye, see JICSBS, Autumn 1982, p. 30, figs. 64 and 64a.

    We believe that this lovely crystal bottle was made to order for Ye and is not an earlier version left blank. A plain early crystal bottle in a form as flattened as this would be rare on its own, but common in the inside-painted works of the Beijing school.

    The style is typical of Ye's finest figure paintings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, where excellent painting is combined with reasonably subdued colours, from 1905 onwards the colouring tended to become even more brilliant, with greater contrasts. There is something distinctive and extremely pleasing about these more pastel tones used on his figure paintings between about 1896 and 1905. This is one of Ye's masterpieces of the genre, with unusual subject matter and delightful painting and colouring set in a lovely crystal bottle.

    水晶內畫紅拂女陶淵明鼻煙壺

    水晶、墨、水彩;平唇,平底,一正面內畫一種三教合一圖,另一正面內畫風塵三俠,題曰"庚子清和作於都門,葉仲三",後落白文"印"一印
    葉仲三,北京崇文區杏林齋,1900年4 月
    高﹕ 5.79 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.68/1.47 厘米
    蓋: 珍珠;綠松石座

    狀態敘述:壺﹕呈冰狀瑕疵,有橫越唇者。內畫﹕出齋狀態

    來源﹕
    倫敦佳士得,1971年4月5日, 拍賣品號93
    Hugh Moss (1987)

    文獻﹕
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》, 1982年秋期,頁 27, 圖63 及 63a
    Kleiner 1995, 編號406
    Treasury 4, 編號522

    展覽﹕
    大英博物館,1995年6月~11月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷,1997年7月~月11月
    倫敦佳士得,1999

    說明﹕
    虯髯客題材,亦見於第二場拍賣會,拍賣品號 47.

    以前,我們以為本壺畫有虎溪三笑圖,雖然缺乏溪流,但右邊的人可推定是陶淵明,舉杯的可推定是陸修靜,坐後邊的應該是慧遠。虎溪三笑的故事大概是家喻戶曉的。故事完全是沒有歷史根據的傳說,因為陸地道士移居廬山的時候,他已經五十五歲左右,陶靖節應該是九十六歲,而慧遠應該壹佰貳拾柒歲了。但這個故事象徵三教的融合,從唐宋以降是人人喜愛的美談。最近我們讀倪亦斌2008,"三教原來一家,萬變不離其宗"一文,就知道有"三酸"的故事,是蘇軾、黃庭堅、佛印三個人喝唐代的名醋而咂嘴,在上海博物館藏明末筆筒上和日本的幾幅畫都有《三酸圖》,跟虎溪三笑圖一樣,是三教合一的圖像化。本煙壺的景色既缺虎溪又缺醋缸,很可能虎溪三笑、三酸圖,都不是,只是三個代表三教的朋友喝茶閑談。

    葉仲三還有一件內畫三俠和三笑兩個題目的鼻煙壺;見《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》, 1982年秋, 頁 30, 圖64 及 64a.。

    這種扁形式的水晶煙壺,除了北京的內畫家的作品以外,幾乎沒有,大概是特製的坯子。


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