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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 44 

Lot 44

Lot 44
Treasury 4, no. 517 (‘Live Long and Prosper’)

Crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flattened footrim; painted with a continuous scene of a mature pine tree, with a crane perched on its trunk and two paradise flycatchers in its branches with a rocky outcrop with peonies growing behind it, inscribed in draft script ‘Executed by Ye Zhongsan at the capital in the fourth month of the year wuxu’, with one seal of the artist, huayin (‘painting seal’), in negative seal script
Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, fourth month, 1898
Height: 6.58 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.58/1.55 cm
Stopper: jadeite; coral collar

Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1985)

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 329
Treasury 4, no. 517

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

In the second half of the 1890s, Ye’s creativity flourished. Many new subjects were introduced, some entirely his own, others borrowed from other artists establishing themselves in the medium during those years. His main inspiration, however, was Zhou Leyuan, but even when he copies a Zhou subject, as he does here, it would be easy enough to distinguish the two, even without the honest signature and date. The crane here is taken directly from Zhou’s work and it might have been Sale 5, lot 41 that Ye saw and copied. The birds are in a very similar position; more tellingly, on Zhou’s version there is an unusual feature for him that reappears on Ye’s. The wings of the crane are painted in a pastel flesh-colour to separate them from the white body.

Zhou’s crane is unusually crisp and colourful for him and seems to have set the tone for Ye’s brighter, more colourful approach. In his version, Ye has taken it (or another Zhou Leyuan crane like it) and sharpened up the contrasts, using brighter white and a more emphatic flesh-tone for the wings. The same approach is used with the other elements, which tends to separate Ye’s approach from Zhou’s. Everything is crisper, with brighter colours and more contrast than on Zhou’s works. Even the pine branches bristling with their needles follow the same pattern of being sharper in contrast to the ground colour. Ye’s work has a brilliance that, while more decorative, is also extremely effective in this medium. The same tendency towards a more colourful, decorative approach can be seen in the peonies. Zhou’s peonies, although they are painted in white with subtle washes of pink, are not as carefully outlined as Ye’s, where the pink colour is added more precisely. Zhou’s are more impressionistic, Ye’s are more precisely drawn. In fact the two are done with the same technique; it is the degree of precision in doing them that differs. Ye has also added here a pastel-blue peony as a stark contrast to the pink one growing beside it. This picks up the colouring of the paradise flycatchers above and balances the picture more effectively; in neither colour nor contrast does it owe much to Zhou Leyuan.

The bottle is another crystal of spectacular form and clarity, obviously made for Ye by the same workshop that produced Sale 1, lot 71. For another lovely example of the crane on a rocky outcrop beneath a pine, see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 435 (also illustrated in JICSBS, Autumn 1982, p. 31, fig. 70).


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=1704&exhibition=12&ee_lang=eng


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