Glass, ink, and watercolours; with a concave lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; painted on one main side with three fan-tailed goldfish swimming in a pond among aquatic plants beneath flowering lotuses, the other main side and one narrow side painted with a Jiangnan landscape scene, with a scholar seated at the window of a waterside pavilion built on stilts in the shallows of a lake, inscribed in draft with a couplet, followed by 'Executed in mid-autumn in the year yiwei by Sun Xingwu', with two seals of the artist, one preceding the inscription, illegible, the other, following it, yin ('seal'), in positive seal script Sun Xingwu, Beijing, mid-autumn, 1895 Height: 5.85 cm Mouth/lip: 0.60/1.74 cm Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar
Condition: Bottle: minute insignificant chip to outer foot rim Painting: studio condition
Provenance: Kaynes-Klitz Collection Sotheby's Hong Kong, 16 November 1989, lot 168
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, MarchJune 1994 National Museum, Singapore, November 1994February 1995 Christie's, London, 1999
In a short career, with surviving dated bottles only from 1894 to 1900, Sun Xingwu established himself as one of the most consistent and original of those who were inspired by Zhou Leyuan to take up the art. We know that he lived in Beijing from a number of examples identifying the place of painting. We also know that he was inspired by Zhou Leyuan. Out of a total recorded output of sixty-five bottles, no less than nine bear Zhou Leyuan signatures and presumably spurious dates, usually 1892. There is one other, bearing the possibly spurious date of 1896 and the signature of Ma Shaoxuan. None of these makes any attempt to imitate the styles of either Zhou or Ma, and with or without the signature would be instantly recognized as the work of Sun Xingwu, reinforcing our belief that such works were intended less as fakes than as accolades to the most influential artists of the day. The situation was similar with Zhang Baotian (see Sale 2, lot 112).
Jiangnan, 'South of the River' is the region comprising Zhejiang province and the southern part of Jiangsu. The couplet reads,
The springtime scene in Jiangnan is simply lovely, The pavilion, lofty and open, faces the clear stream.