White porcelain; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; carved with a continuous waterside scene with a fisherman dangling his line off the front of a small, partially covered boat beyond a plank bridge in the left foreground and rocks in the right foreground from which a minimalist willow tree rises to cover the blank space between two groups of steep, distant hills that wrap around the two narrow sides to the other main side, where a waterside house is set amid rocks at the lower left, a scholar seated at its open window, with willows and a pine tree rising from the riverbank to the right and covering the distant waterscape; the foot signed in relief seal script, Wang Jiemei zuo ('Made by Wang Jiemei'); the interior unglazed Wang Jiemei, Jingdezhen, 18601923 Height: 6.49 cm Mouth/lip: 0.61 and 0.55/1.10 and 0.95 cm (oval) Stopper: coral; gilt-silver collar
Condition: Three barely perceptible flakes, main side on the lowest mountain, not obtrusive; otherwise, kiln condition
Provenance: Kaynes-Klitz Collection Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 16 November 1989, lot 117
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, March June 1994 National Museum of Singapore, November 1994 February 1995
We tentatively identify Wang Jiemei with a Jingdezhen artist who painted landscapes on porcelain at Jingdezhen in the late Qing. That artist's name was Wang Fan, his courtesy name was Jiemei, and his dates are 1843 1923. His family had worked in the arts, particularly porcelain, for generations; one of his ancestors was very close to Tang Ying, and his younger brother was a vice-assistant magistrate for the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in the late Qing. If he began working in the 1860s, when carved porcelain was in vogue, it is possible that he began with that art and shifted to painting with enamels as the qianjiang cai style of painted porcelain became more and more popular on porcelain plaques and articles of daily use, such as tea pots. (The term refers to the light reddish or pink colour often used for texture strokes on rocks and foliage on certain trees, and the subjects and brushstrokes are derived from literati painting. The black strokes vary in hue, and the ground is not a white glaze; less use is of made of outline strokes, especially in bird-and-flower subjects. The earliest dated pieces are from 1855, and the movement died out after the 1920s, partly because of changes in taste, and partly because of the frailty of the medium in the everyday living environment. See Treasury 6, no. 1433, for a rare example in the snuff-bottle world.)
When a biscuit bottle has survived from this school of porcelain carving, we can see the undisguised skill of the carvers: it is seldom less than impressive. The scene is conventional; the artistry and workmanship are outstanding. The rocks are obviously carved in relief from lumps of porcelain applied to the surface, while the leaves of the trees look as if separate clusters of foliage may have been added one by one and then impressed or carved with lines, and some of the vines hanging from the tree-branches look like they started life as rolled strings of porcelain trailed onto the bottle's body.
Neither of Wang Jiemei's works in this collection has a glazed interior. Both also have the basic bottle formed in the traditional manner, from a two-part mould.