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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 20 

Lot 20

Lot 20
Treasury6, no. 1463 (‘Flavour of Immortals and Gods’)
HK$100,000

Brown stoneware; with a flat lip and concave lemon-shaped foot; the narrow sides with raised ridges carved as formalized bamboo stems; the main-side panels impressed near their outer edges with a couplet in regular script and three seals, a rectangular one in positive regular script, Gao Jinyuan, another, also rectangular and in positive regular script, zizao (‘self-made’), and a circular one, also in positive regular script, fu (‘happiness’)
Gao Jinyuan, Yixing, 1800–1900
Height: 5.5 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.63/1.49 cm
Stopper: glass, carved with a coiled chi dragon

Provenance:
Unidentified dealer, Shanghai, 1934
Ko Collection
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd. (1998)

Published:
Treasury 6, no. 1463

There is another bottle similarly signed, but in the shape of a conch-shell, in the J & J Collection; see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 258, where we cite another that is probably also by him, but signed with a company, or pottery name (Fuji, the first character also appearing on its own here), suggesting that Fu relates to the name of his business rather than being included as an auspicious wish for happiness. Each character of the couplet is impressed, probably using small wooden stamps. The stamped decoration may suggest repeatability and a level of commercialism, but the workmanship and elegance of the form are impressive. Immense care has been taking in shaping and decorating the bottle, to the point where although we may assume two halves were luted vertically, no trace of any join remains inside to indicate how it was actually managed.

The artist is otherwise unrecorded in the many works published on Yixing wares, and although we suspect he worked in the early- to mid-nineteenth century, we have left a little more leeway just in case. The couplet reads:

The flavour [of the snuff] can attract guests from beyond the clouds.
The pure fragrance [contained within this bottle] can tempt the immortals from their grottoes.

 

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.

 

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