Lot 29 Lot 30 Lot 31 Lot 32 Lot 33 Lot 34 Lot 35

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 32 

Lot 32

Lot 32
Treasury 1, no. 137 (‘The Master of the Rocks Noble Occupations Pebble’)

Nephrite of pebble material; carved with a continuous mountainous landscape scene with a large pine tree in which a scholar sits on a rocky outcrop reading a book, a fisherman holds his rod and line above a rushing stream, a farmer seated on his buffalo crosses a natural rock bridge over a torrent, and a woodcutter carries his bunch of sticks over his shoulder on a pole, with wisps of formalized clouds around the mountain peaks
Master of the Rocks school, 1740–1860
Height: 6.3 cm
Mouth: 0.54 cm
Stopper: jadeite, carved as a twig with leaves and an insect on a blossom

Sotheby’s, London, 6 June 1988, lot 405

JICSBS, Autumn 1988, p. 27, fig. 13
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 52
Kleiner 1995, no. 81
Treasury 1, no. 137

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
British Museum, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997 

The four ideal occupations (fisherman, woodcutter, farmer, and scholar) appear to have been the most popular subject for this distinctive school of carving, but it is always varied in composition. Of course, the variations were largely dictated by the material: no two nephrite pebbles are ever identical. There is no indication from any of the works in this school that the carvers ever did anything but look at an individual piece of material and begin their artistic effort from that starting point, creating their designs to suit the particular piece of stone and fashioning each one as an individual work of art. The four bottles with the subject in the Bloch Collection (the others being Sale 1, lot 45; Sale 2, lot 122; and Treasury 1, no. 136) demonstrate beyond a doubt that each has come, not from any pattern book, but from the mind of an artist creating individual works of art.

The carving here is less spectacularly in relief than some, but the rock faces are typically well done for the school and stylistically characteristic, with confidently carved planes superimposed upon each other to build jagged peaks and horizontal planes. There are two other stylistic points worth noting: the pine tree and the floating clouds. The trees from this school are noteworthy for their painterly quality, with gnarled trunks giving way to calligraphically sweeping branches, offset here by formalized circles of pine needles in the manner traditionally used by most Chinese carvers to depict pine-needle clusters.
The style of the clouds is also distinctive. A standard cloud-type for the school portrays long, thin ribbons emerging from rock faces and pines, sweeping in ‘S’-shaped curves only to disappear again. By separating planes of distance, this gives the appearance of greater visual depth to what is, particularly in this example, quite shallow carving. The only carving in the yellowish ground shows an alternative and less distinctive type of cloud for the school. It is added to make use of some cloud-like markings that have seeped through from the original skin into the yellow core material.

A stalk-shaped stopper of this type would be perfect for a fruit- or vegetable-form bottle, but here a plainer stopper is called for. The tiny insect on the stopper also confuses the scale of the design on the bottle. The Blochs have left it in place for the time being since it came with the bottle, whose colours it complements ideally.


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=1717&exhibition=12&ee_lang=eng


Lot 29 Lot 30 Lot 31 Lot 32 Lot 33 Lot 34 Lot 35


Hugh Moss |