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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1007 

Lot 1007
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Lot 1007
Treasury 6, no. 1355 (‘Bingrong’s Longevity’)
HK$187,500

Very pale yellow and brownish-black glazes on porcelain; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved with a continuous design of a crane perched on one leg in the branches of a pine tree, the foot engraved in regular script Wang Bingrong zuo 王炳榮作 (‘Made by Wang Bingrong’); all exterior surfaces, except the foot rim, glazed; the interior unglazed
Wang Bingrong, Jingdezhen, 1820–1860
Height: 7.65 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.80/1.29 cm
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

Provenance:
Robert Hall, 1989

Published:
Kleiner 1995, no. 236
Treasury 6, no. 1355

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

One of the standard subjects produced by Wang Bingrong to a variety of different levels of quality was this one of a crane in a pine tree. The idea may have been borrowed from a bottle by Chen Guozhi 陳國治 (see Sale 1, lot 81). An almost mirror image of this design, signed by Chen, is in the Beasley Collection (Sotheby’s, London, 2 July 1984, lot 4), and another is in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 249).

Although Wang Bingrong repeated this subject on several snuff bottles, every single bottle is differently composed. The crane is sometimes facing one way, sometimes the other, sometimes stands on one leg, sometimes on two, and the pine tree is, in every case, quite different in its composition and detail. The crispness and depth of carving may vary on Wang’s crane bottles, but the artistic approach and skill remain constant.

This is one of the softer versions, with lower relief and a more rounded style, but it is nonetheless impressive, with a particularly noble old pine tree. The signature is one of his standards, placed in the recessed foot in relief regular script. Wang also used a seal-script alternative and tended to engrave his name on the foot. Inscriptions on the body of the bottle, such as on Sale 2, lot 119, are much rarer. Since the idea of integral inscriptions also occurs on the works of Chen Guozhi under his assumed sobriquet of Xinquan 心泉 and dating from early in the evolution of the art form between 1819 and 1824 (see Sale 4, lot 141), we might ascribe similar works by Wang to his early period and assume that he settled, a little later in his career, into the standard signature added to the foot.

The range of colours for Wang’s crane pictures includes this very pale yellow; a pale caramel colour (used on many of his brushpots to imitate bamboo); a pale beige, and white. Whatever the colour, the legs, beak, and visible eye of the crane will be in a very dark brownish black.

For other versions of these crane bottles, see the references in Treasury 6, p. 768.

 

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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