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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1026 

Lot 1026
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Lot 1026
Treasury 1, no. 34 (‘The palace Gourd-Vine White Jade’)

Nephrite; well hollowed, with a flat foot; carved with a continuous design of thirteen double gourds growing from a severed leafy vine
Possibly imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, 1740–1820
Height: 5.16 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.54/2.21 and 2.11 cm (oval)
Stopper: amethyst; silver collar

Sotheby’s, London, 2 May 1985, lot 425

Kleiner 1987, no. 29
Treasury 1, no. 34

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

This subject matter was popular at court and appears on a wide range of imperial enamels on glass, metal, and porcelain. It is more than likely that this bottle was carved in the same workshop (and probably by the same hand) as a number of known pebble-bottles in white jade that have gourds as their decoration. They too are linked to the palace, albeit only tentatively (see Sale 2, lot 14). The style here is identical to some of the better-known examples, as is the masterly carving and polishing.

At first glance, the complex design tends to divert attention from the quality of the carving. In the hands of a lesser artist, so complex a design might have become simply a muddle. Here, however, the four separate elements are unusually well controlled and perfectly balanced. The smooth double gourds, the sinuous tendrils of the vine, the textured leaves with their incised veins, beautifully rounded surfaces and lipped edges, and the perfectly finished ground plane all complement each other ideally.

Another mark of the artistic mastery of this carving is found in the endless variation in the shape and suspension of each double gourd. There would be a temptation with a lesser artist simply to repeat a standard double gourd, perhaps varying only the size, but this artist has re-thought every single gourd so that no two are alike and each hangs from its stalk with convincing realism.


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=1910&exhibition=13&ee_lang=eng


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