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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 125 

Lot 125

Lot 125
Treasury 4, no. 552 (‘A Painting of the First Rank’)

Glass, ink, and watercolours; with a concave lip and a recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; painted on one main side with a flying crane holding a branch of flowering peony in its beak above the reflection of the sun in turbulent water, inscribed in draft script ‘A Painting [symbolizing the attainment] of a first-rank official title and wealth, executed in imitation of a Yuan work by Erzhong in the second month of the year jihai,’ with one seal of the artist, Ding, in negative regular script, the other main side with two deer beneath a mature cypress tree beside a rock, with five bats flying overhead, inscribed in draft script ‘Executed by Erzhong in the year jihai
in imitation of the method of Xinluo shanren,’ with one seal of the artist, Zhong’er, in negative regular script
Ding Erzhong, second month, 1899
Height: 5.82 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.57/1.60 cm
Stopper: jadeite; coral finial; vinyl collar

Arthur Gadsby (1980)
Belfort Collection (1986)

Très précieuses tabatières chinoises, p. 24, no. 129
Kleiner 1987, no. 259
Orientations, October 1987, p. 43, no. 13
Treasury 4, no. 552

L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, June 1982
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
Christie's, London, 1999

The crane in this case is not intended primarily as a symbol of longevity, as it usually is, but in its alternative symbolic role as the badge of a first-rank court appointment. This is made clear by the title and by the addition of the sun moving upwards in the sky, symbolising a rise through the ranks of official position. This is one of Ding’s always-intriguing images of cranes, where no two are alike and each is imbued with extraordinary personality. The flying crane resembles a self-conscious ballet dancer, despite the rather fierce look in its eye, made the more threatening by the open beak. Ding has arrived, no doubt, at the exaggerated posture partly to balance the oversized bloom held in its beak which, in real life, would have made it a trifle un-aerodynamic. There is also a lovely abstract balance set up by the three vermilion emphases: the sun, the crane’s crest, and the seal following the inscription.

On the other side is one of Ding’s most compelling images of deer, with two superbly painted beasts in a magnificent, studied pose as they turn towards the two bats flying above them beside the ancient cypress. The artist who inspired Ding to paint this scene is Hua Yan (1682–1756), one of the most versatile painters active in eighteenth-century Yangzhou. He adopted the literary name Xinluo shanren, one of the nearly twenty different artists of antiquity whose inspiration Ding has acknowledged on his recorded works (see discussion under no. 547). In this case we can detect the style of Hua Yan, who produced delightful paintings of animals, as much as we can see the style of
Ding Erzhong.


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=1524&exhibition=11&ee_lang=eng


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