An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He (2)
Lot 10
An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder
First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He
Sold for HK$ 7,900,000 (US$ 1,006,656) inc. premium

Lot Details
An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He (2) An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He (2) An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He (2)
An Imperially-inscribed white and russet jade 'birthday celebration' boulder
First half of the 18th century, two-character seal mark Chun He
The attractive even-toned white stone retaining its characteristic russet skin and crisply carved in various relief 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

  • 十八世紀上半葉 御製白玉巧雕仙童祝壽山子
    「如南山之壽以介景福」、「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
    An important Asian private collection

    來源:
    蘇格蘭私人舊藏,於1901至1906年間蒐集於中國,後由家族繼承
    重要亞洲私人收藏

    The jade boulder is carved with the characters:

    如南山之壽,以介景福。

    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, Shijing, part of the Confucian Canon. The 'Southern Mountain' refers to the auspicious mountain south of the ancient capital of Xian.

    The jade is carved in an oval cartouche enclosing the two characters Chunhe 春和 or 'Peaceful Spring'. The seal indicates that the inscription was composed by Prince Yunli 允禮 (originally named Yinli 胤禮 1697-1738), the seventeenth son of the Kangxi Emperor. Prince Yunli was a fine scholar and patron of the arts, and compiled an anthology of his own poetry entitled Chunhe Tang Ji 春和堂集 or 'The Collected Works of the Master of Peaceful Spring Hall'. He was also known as the Master of Chunhe 春和主人 whose studio names were also recorded as Chunhe Tang 春和堂 or Jingyuan Zhai 靜遠齋, see Qingren shiming biecheng zihao suoyin, (Guide to the Studio Names, Alternate Names, Personal Names and Sobriquets of Qing Era People), Shanghai, 2001, no.802.

    As the seventeenth son of the Kangxi Emperor, Prince Yunli was able to 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 struggles for succession to the Imperial throne. Yet despite his caution towards politics, according to the official histories he rose high in the Qing government due to his honesty and diligence.

    In April 1723, when his elder half-brother Prince Yinzhen 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 and was promoted to Prince Guo of the First Rank 果親王. In 1727 Prince Yunli was further appointed as the Grand Secretariat of the Households Department or Hubu, which oversaw household census and determined the associated taxation. In 1734, Prince Yunli who was known as a patron and scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and the arts, escorted the Dalai Lama back to Tibet from his visit to the Qing Court, inspecting military forces along the way. The strong personal relationship and trust between Prince Yunli and his brother the Yongzheng Emperor was clearly demonstrated when the Yongzheng Emperor fell gravely ill; he entrusted Prince Yunli with raising and supporting the heir-apparent Prince Hongli, the future Qianlong Emperor.

    During the Qianlong Emperor's reign, Prince Yunli was appointed to the Grand Council, the most influential policy-making body in the Qing Empire, empowering and investing him with great authority. His proposal to reduce taxation in the Jiangnan region was highly regarded and approved by the emperor. When Prince Yunli died in 1738, the Qianlong Emperor ordered an additional memorial ceremony and a posthumous name was given to honour his lifetime accomplishments.

    The present jade boulder is exquisitely carved enabling the beholder to first appreciate the luminous quality of the white jade stone highlighted against the contrast of the russet-toned deftly carved mountains. A second look observes the graduated 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.

    Very similar workmanship, particularly evident in the distinct sharp contours and manner of execution of the mountains, can be seen on an Imperially-inscribed pale green and russet jade boulder, Qing dynasty, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware II, Shanghai, 2008, no.52; compare also the jagged rockwork on the Qing Court painting from the Qing Court Collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, depicting the Yongzheng Emperor in various guises Yinzhen at Play: Attacking a Tiger with a Trident, illustrated in Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, Taipei, 2009, p.308, pl.II-111. See also the similar style of carving of the wutong leaves on a white and russet jade boulder, Qing dynasty, imperially inscribed by the Qianlong Emperor, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 8 Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2010, no.120.

    The exceptional quality, imaginative design and technical virtuosity achieved by the master carver exemplifies the zenith of jade craftsmanship achieved by the jade ateliers during the Yongzheng or early Qianlong periods. This is made even more remarkable given the rarity of such extraordinary jade material, which only became more available following the Qianlong Emperor's conquest of the Dzungar Khanate, now known as Xinjiang, between 1755 and 1759. The rarity and jewel-like quality of the present jade boulder indicates it was specially commissioned for an important occasion such as an Imperial birthday or ascent to the throne, making it likely that it was gifted by Prince Yunli to the Yongzheng or Qianlong Emperors.

    For another work carved with mark of Chunhe see a pebble-shaped jade snuff bottle, illustrated by S.Sargent, ed., Franz Art: Chinese Art from the Hedda and Lutz Franz Collection – Jade, Hong Kong, 2010, p.164; see also an Yixing teapot, 18th century, made for Yunli with the studio mark of Jingyuan Zhai, illustrated in Purple Clay Wares: The K.S. Lo Collection, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, p.80, no.32. See also V.L.Uspensky, Prince Yunli (1697-1738): Manchu Statesman and Tibetan Buddhist, Tokyo, 1997; and for his poetry anthology see Chun he tang shi ji 春和堂詩集 (The Collected Poems of the Master of Peaceful Spring Hall), Shanghai, 2009.

    白玉玉質,溫潤如脂,帶皮色。採用浮雕技法,在保留大量皮色的基礎上,於正面巧色浮雕仙山雲台,山間瀑布溪流,祥雲出岫,雕兩仙童分別立於山崖及雲頭之上,其中一童子手捧葫蘆,祥雲從葫蘆中湧出,雲中蝙蝠飛舞,另一童子手捧提籃,仰頭承接空中的蝙蝠,似有「福壽山海」及「接福祝壽」之意。兩童子高低錯落,俯仰顧盼,表情生動。背面依石形及皮色巧雕山石蒼松,山巒起伏,左下角鐫刻詩文並鈐「春和」款。

    山子背面所刻兩句詩文「如南山之壽,以介景福」,前句取自《詩經·小雅·天保》:「如月之恆,如日之升,如南山之壽。」後句則取自《詩經·大雅·行葦》:「黃耇台背,以引以翼。壽考維祺,以介景福。」可見題詩主要用於祝壽。

    「春和」是清康熙帝第十七子、雍正帝異母弟,愛新覺羅·胤禮(允禮)之堂號。允禮生於康熙三十六年(1697年)三月初二,生母為純裕勤妃陳氏,他一生工書畫、通音律、善詩詞,好遊歷,著有《春和堂集》、《靜遠齋集》、《奉使紀行詩集》、《工程做法》等書,可謂一位藝術家或準文學藝術家,見《清人室名別稱字號索引》,下冊,802。

    雍正元年四月(1723年),破格封允禮為多羅果郡王,主持理藩院事務。《世宗憲皇帝御製詩文集》卷二十八錄《賜果郡王》詩:「花萼連枝夾帝京,英才挺秀信維城。沖和自保穰穰福,恭敬無勞赫赫名。」可見雍正帝對其賞識。

    雍正六年二月初五(1725年),雍正帝諭旨宗人府:「果郡王為人直朴謹慎,品行卓然。朕即位以來,命王辦理理藩院及三旗事務數年,王失志忠誠,毫不顧及己私,執持正理,概不瞻徇,贊襄朕躬,允稱篤敬......其人為尤甚,其事為尤難,著將王晉封親王,為朕之子弟及世世子孫之表范。」允禮晉升為親王。雍正七年(1726年),受命主管工部。雍正八年(1727年),總理戶部三庫。雍正十一年(1733年)又授宗令,管理宗人府事。雍正十二年(1734年)七月,奉旨遠行泰寧,護送達賴喇嘛回西藏,並順路巡視各省駐防及綠營兵,翌年返還京師,奉命辦理苗疆事務。雍正帝臨終時,更是授遺詔輔政。

    允禮秉性忠直,亦深受乾隆帝的賞識。乾隆即位後,授允禮總理事務大臣,並特賜親王雙俸,免其宴見叩拜。允禮向乾隆帝密疏,請求免除江南諸省民欠漕項、蘆課、學租、雜稅、乾隆允之並諭曰:「果親王秉性忠直,皇考所信任。外間頗疑其嚴厲,今觀密奏,足見其存心寬厚,特以宣示九卿。」乾隆三年(1738年)正月,允禮病重,二月薨,乾隆帝悲痛萬分,親臨其喪,並令為允禮加祭一次,賜諡號。

    此件山子雕工、刀法及留皮方式與乾隆晚期宮廷玉雕有所不同,整件山子依玉石原型雕刻,其白玉玉質溫潤剔透,與紅褐玉成鮮明對比,是一件融合繪畫與巧雕手法的玉器,古樸雅緻。其山石雕刻方法,不見尖銳峰棱,山頭呈鈍角,此類表現手法在雍正時期宮廷玉雕及繪畫上都可以看到。與本山子形制及山石處理手法類似的作品,見清宮舊藏一件清乾隆青玉御題詩策杖圖山子,《故宮博物院藏文物珍品大系:玉器(下)》,上海,2008年,編號52。北京故宮博物院藏一套十三開胤禎行樂圖冊頁,其中刺虎圖中對山石的描繪手法與此山子類似,見《雍正:清世宗文物大展》,台北,2009年,頁308,圖版II-111。另見北京故宮博物院藏一件乾隆御題詩山子,其樹木雕刻風格與本山子類似,見《故宮博物院藏品大系:玉器編8清代玉器》,北京,2011年,編號120。

    此玉雕山子雖形制較之晚期作品稍小,但乾隆二十四年(1759)平定新疆地區準格爾部和回部動亂後,大量上等玉料才進入宮廷,如此更顯此塊玉料之珍貴,以至於工匠寧願保留大量玉皮進行巧雕而不隨意廢棄材料。允禮受雍正及乾隆兩朝帝王賞識,固然亦有機會在宮廷玉器上題詩落款,為父皇或皇兄祝壽之用。

    鈐允禮堂號之器,見一件由春和主人題並鐫「春和」款之白玉鼻煙壺,著錄於S.Sargent編,《Franz Art: Chinese Art from the Hedda and Lutz Franz Collection, Vol 1 Jade》,卷一,香港,2010年,頁164。攜允禮「靜遠齋」堂號款之例,見香港茶具文物館羅桂祥珍藏一件十八世紀漢方壺,著錄於《茶具文物館羅桂祥珍藏宜興紫砂陶器》,香港,2002年,頁80,編號32。有關允禮與蒙藏佛教之論述,見V.L.Uspensky,《Prince Yunli (1697-1738): Manchu Statesman and Tibetan Buddhist》,東京,1997年。
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