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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 145 

Lot 145

Lot 145
Treasury 4, no. 481 (‘Temple in Blue Mountains’)

Glass, ink, and watercolours; with a slightly concave lip and a recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; painted with a continuous landscape scene in which a fisherman in a straw raincoat and hat punts his boat near a river bank with willow trees and an open pavilion, with two gnarled old pine trees and a mountain temple in the foothills of distant mountains, inscribed in draft script ‘[Executed] in the second month of the year gengyin at the Studio of Lotus-root Fragrance by Zhou Leyuan,’ with one seal of the artist, yin (‘seal’), in negative seal script
Zhou Leyuan, The Studio of Lotus-root Fragrance, Xuannan, Beijing, second month, 1890
Height: 6.9 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.64/1.70 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Beijing Arts and Crafts Corporation (circa 1963)
Hugh Moss
Robert Hall (1984)

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 316
Treasury 4, no. 481

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
Christie's, London, 1999

This poetic idyll in blue is a unique work for Zhou Leyuan in that it is, right in the middle of his career, experimental in one significant respect: it is, to some extent, a unique inside-painted ink-play painting. To the main trees and some of the hills beyond them, Zhou seems to have added pools of water into the ink and colours after he had put them on, allowing a partially random running of the colours, both outwards and into each other. This has created the misty and magical effect that permeates the work. It is particularly obvious in the dark area of foliage just below the temple, but it is also clearly visible from the narrow sides, where there are random multiple, rippling lines left by water seeping across the pigment, which is carried with it until it dries in a sharp outline. Had it just been the area of trees, one would be tempted to assume that perhaps someone had damaged the bottle with water at a later stage, despite the difficulty of accidentally confining an area of water so precisely on the inside of a bottle without damaging the whole painting. The use of this technique permeates the painting, however, and may be intentional, thus constituting a unique departure from his normal method of painting foliage, as unlikely as this may seem.

This is the one of two examples in this collection where Zhou has varied the name of his studio, using the alternate form shuxuan to replace zhai (‘studio’) — the other being Treasury 4, no. 479.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1502&exhibition=11&ee_lang=eng


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