A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe
Lot 124
A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder
First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe
£30,000 - 50,000
US$ 51,000 - 85,000
Auction Details
A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe
Lot Details
A very rare Imperial white and russet jade boulder
First half of the 18th century, signed Chunhe
The even-toned white stone retaining its characteristic russet skin and crisply carved with one boy proferring a box supporting a bat to another boy floating on a thick cloud and holding aloft a double gourd issuing swirling smoke amidst further bats in flight, the boys divided by a waterfall and stream and surrounded by pine, wutong and rocks, the reverse with a pine tree issuing from craggy rocks carved with an Imperial inscription, box. 11.3cm (4½in) wide (2).

Footnotes

  • 十八世紀前半期 御製白玉帶皮雕山水人物圖山子 「春和」篆書刻款

    Provenance: a Scottish private collection; according to the family acquired in China between 1901 and 1906, and thence by descent

    來源:蘇格蘭私人收藏,據說約於1901至1906年間購於中國,並由家族繼承下去

    This piece is inscribed with the characters:

    如南山之壽以爾景福

    Which may be translated as:

    'Resembling the longevity of Southern Mountain so thou will have bright fortune.'

    The line is taken from the ancient Classic of Poetry, part of the Confucian Canon. Southern mountain refers to the auspicious mountain south of the ancient capital of Xian.

    The jade is signed in an oval cartouche in which are the characters 春和 Chunhe or 'Peaceful Spring'. The seal would indicate that the inscription was composed by Yunli 允禮 (originally named Yinli 胤禮), 1697-1738, the seventeenth son of the Kangxi Emperor, who was a fine scholar and patron of the arts, and compiled an anthology of his own poetry entitled 春和堂集 Chunhe Tang Ji or The Collected Works of the Master of Peaceful Spring Hall.

    As the seventeenth son of the Kangxi Emperor, Prince Yunli was able to indulge and cultivate his passion for calligraphy, classical learning and poetry - in which he excelled - since childhood. Modelling himself as a traditional Chinese literatus, refined and well-read, he was shrewd enough to distance himself from factional court politics and the struggles for succession. Yet despite his caution towards politics, according to the official histories, he rose high in the government due to his honesty and dilligence.

    In April 1722, when his elder half brother became the Yongzheng Emperor, Prince Yunli was granted the title of Prince Guo of the Second Rank 果郡王. In 1725 he was awarded a higher allowance for his services, until in 1728 he was promoted further to Prince Guo of the First Rank 果親王. Prince Yunli was thereupon admitted to the Grand Council, the most influential policy-making body in the Qing Empire. When the Yongzheng Emperor was gravely ill, Prince Yunli was entrusted to raise and support the heir-apparent; the future Qianlong Emperor.

    Under Qianlong's reign, Prince Yunli was further empowered and invested with great authority. As a known patron and devotee of Tibetan Buddhism, Prince Yunli escorted the Dalai Lama back to Tibet from his visit to the Qing court, inspecting military forces along the way. Prince Yunli continued his patronage of Tibetan Buddhism and the Arts until his untimely death aged just 41.

    For another work signed Chunhe see S.Sargent ed., Franz Art: Chinese Art from the Hedda and Lutz Franz Collection, Vol 1 Jade, Hong Kong, 2010, p.164. see also V.L.Uspensky, Prince Yunli (1697-1738): Manchu Statesman and Tibetan Buddhist, Tokyo, 1997. For his poetry anthology see 春和堂詩集 Chun he tang shi ji (The Collected Poems of the Master of Peaceful Spring Hall), Shanghai, 2009.

    The present white and russet jade boulder is superbly carved enabling the beholder to first appreciate the luminous quality of the white jade stone highlighted against the contrast of the russet coloured deftly carved mountains. A second look intakes the graduating mountains geometrically yet naturally carved. The eye is then free to roam the scene of the fluttering bats released from the box held by a boy ascending towards the cloud wisps emerging from the double gourd held by his companion amidst the tranquil landscape. This scene may depict the Hehe Erxian, also known as the Immortals of Harmony and Union. The bats represent auspicious wishes and good fortune and therefore this scene would have been complemented by the carved poetry meant to bestow upon the owner good wishes and fortune.

    For a similar workmanship of the mountains see a pale green jade and russet boulder from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated by Zheng Xinmiao, ed., Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum - Jade, Qing Dynasty, vol.8, Beijing, 2010, pl.97.

    Given the strong relationship between Prince Yunli and both the Yongzheng and the Qianlong Emperors, it is very likely that the present boulder was presented as a gift either on the important occasion of succession to the throne of either one of them.
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