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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 29 

Lot 29

Lot 29
Treasury7, no. 1715 (‘Equestrian Scholar’)

Brass, gold and silver foil, abalone shell, and black and brownish-black lacquer (of the variety known as lac-burgauté); with a flat lip and flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; decorated with an inlaid design of abalone shell and gold and silver foil on a black and brownish-black lacquer ground with an ogival panel on each main side, one with a scene of a scholar on horseback holding a whip and riding between foreground foliated rocks and a garden wall, around which his servant, holding a large bowl, follows him on foot along a path as a bird perches in the branches of a tree growing from the far side of the wall and another bird flies above it, the other main side with a flowering camellia growing behind a perforated rock from a foliated ground, the panels surrounded by a formalized, scrolling floral design continuing around the neck; the foot, footrim, lip, and inner neck brass
Japan, 1854–1930
Height: 7.54 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.60/1.69 cm
Stopper: wood, abalone shell, gold foil, and black lacquer, inlaid with a formalized floral design and other patterns; brass collar

Kaynes-Klitz Collection (1989)
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 16 November 1989, lot 220
Zhirou zhai Collection,
Hong Kong (1993)
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1993)

Kleiner 1995, no. 358
Treasury 7, no. 1715

British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

A distinctive style of Japanese lac-burgauté decoration, probably representing the work of one artist or workshop, is characterized by the use of a frame of small, circular pieces of silver foil, and by the very distinctive and exquisitely well-done floral scroll of the narrow sides and neck. This bottle has a simple flower scene on one side, matching the two main panels on the other example, but extends the repertoire with a figure and landscape scene that are unusual for the artist. The source of the scene is the lower half of an illustration to a Tang poem in the woodblock edition, Xinjuan wuyan Tangshi huapu (New woodblock edition of the pentametrical classical verse painting album), compiled by Huang Fengchi in the Wanli to Tiangqi eras and first published between 1620 and 1644. The book found its way to Japan, where a Japanese edition was printed in 1710, so by the late nineteenth century either the Chinese or the reprinted Japanese edition would have been readily available in Japan. Not only is the source Chinese, it is executed in the style of Chinese lac-burgauté designs, even to the point of using a speckled inlay of random filings for the wall and the path going around it. The tentative identification of what the attendant is carrying is possible from the original woodblock illustration, where it looks like a large bowl, the significance of which escapes us.

There is no particular attempt to pretend that this bottle is not Japanese. Apart from not including the ubiquitous Qianlong reign mark of so many of the Japanese wares, the metal body, the brass lip and collar to the stopper, and the brass foot are all typically Japanese.


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=1721&exhibition=12&ee_lang=eng


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