A fine pale green jade carving of an elephent groomed by three boys, 18th century, wood stand and box
Lot 39
A fine pale green jade carving of an elephant groomed by three boys 18th century
Sold for £82,850 (US$ 137,385) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A fine pale green jade carving of an elephant groomed by three boys
18th century
The pale green jade crisply carved as a cheerful wrinkled elephant turning its head to the left and the trunk swaying to the right, a small boy clambering on its back to groom the elephant, and two further boys with a broom and a brush also tending to the elephant at the rear, carved wood stand.
13cm (5 1/8in) wide (2).

Footnotes

  • 十八世紀 青玉雕童子洗象

    Provenance: Scott Langshaw Burdett, C.B.E., M.C. (1897-1961), British Consul General in China, and thence by descent.

    Scott L. Burdett (1897-1961) served as an intelligence officer in the Royal Sussex Regiment during the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross for reconnaissance work forward of the trenches at the battle of Épehy in northern France. After the war he began training in law in London before joining His Majesty's Consular Service in 1920 as a Student Interpreter in Beijing and probably Harbin. He was tasked with learning the language and the business of consular service and he became fluent in Mandarin. He later went on to translate the Chinese Criminal Code into English.

    In 1925 he was appointed Vice-Consul and throughout the years rose to the rank of Consul General in China, having served in Beijing, Canton, Changsha, Cheefoo, Harbin, Shenyang, Shanghai, Tianjin and Weihai. Between April and August 1942 Burdett was detained in Shanghai by the Japanese. Following the Second World War, he returned to China in 1947 first serving as Consul General in Tianjin until 1950 and then appointed as Consul General in Shanghai. It was at this time that the present jade 'marriage' bowl (lot 40) was given to him as a leaving gift from the Swiss Consul General, Mr 'Snooks' Joerg. During the same year, Scott Burdett was awarded the order of Commander of the British Empire. His travels gave him great opportunity and he collected works of art ranging from jades and ivories to furniture, rugs, clothes and scrolls. He obviously took great pleasure in forming his collection. Scott Burdett was in the habit of exchanging jade as gifts with friends and the stone meant a lot to him. He retired in 1951 and returned to Britain.

    The scene of washing the elephant is well known and can be found on a jade group in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl.98; and on a jade boulder in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in The Refined Taste of the Emperor: Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Ch'ing Court, Taipei, 1997, pl.44.

    The elephant is an auspicious symbol associated with Buddhism and used in rebuses to convey wishes for peace, prosperity and good fortune. The symbolism of the washing represents the wish for great happiness.
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