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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1023 

Lot 1023
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Lot 1023
Treasury 5, no.1034 (‘Cloud Pavilion Treasure’)

Transparent ruby-red glass and semi-transparent, milky white glass, both with a few scattered air bubbles of various sizes; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of Zhong Kui 鍾馗 riding a formalized cloud and wielding his sword in the air, with an attendant demon behind him, also on a cloud, offering a tray with a wine pot and cup, and three bats ahead of him, the ground beneath him with a perforated rock on which sits what appears to be the three-legged toad of Liu Hai 劉海, with grass growing nearby, inscribed in relief seal script, Yunxuan zhenwan 雲軒珍玩 (‘For the treasured enjoyment of Yunxuan’)
Yangzhou, 1800-1848
Height: 6.22 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.62/1.39 cm
Stopper: glass; pearl finial; vinyl collar

Janos Szekeres
Sotheby’s, New York, 27 October 1986, lot 63

JICSBS, June 1975, p. 9
Kleiner 1987, no. 128
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, exhibition poster, October 1987
Treasury 5, no.1034

New Orleans Museum of Art, October 1980
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993

It is very likely that the Yunxuan for whom this bottle was made was Dai Wencan 戴文燦 (1784 – 1848), a Yangzhou resident who used Yunxuan as his courtesy name (zi). Dai was technically a native of六合, Anhui, but his father moved to Yangzhou at some point and he followed, spending the rest of his years in Yangzhou. He was granted provincial graduate status but did not pursue a higher degree next because his father died and he was in mourning; after his mourning period had ended, he felt there was no point to pursuing a career as an official when neither his father nor his mother was alive. Instead, he devoted himself to scholarship, calligraphy, and the friendship of likeminded gentlemen.

Here we encounter another from the series of masterpieces in red and white glass and decorated with immortals. It is perhaps significant that so many of them appear to be on a watery, milky white glass that reduces the intensity of the overlay colour, making the overall work of art rather more subtle than, for instance, Sale 4, no. 3 (which is dated 1880 and therefore later than this bottle, if we have identified Yunxuan correctly).

The artist’s impeccable technique and exquisite use of shading in the overlay colour are particularly evident in the perforated rock and the clouds upon which the deity and his attendant demon are placed. Although Zhong Kui alone is shown, the toad implies the presence of Liu Hai, the patron saint of commerce. In this and others in the collection, we perceive how painterly the school was in its classic wares, for this scene might have been conceived as a painting, and is obviously carved to represent one. The use of line and shading reflects painterly style, and the fluency of the carver’s ‘brush work’ in the demanding lapidary medium is quite astonishing. If this scene were transferred to paper, it would do credit to Wang Su 王素or any other Yangzhou artists of the Qing dynasty.


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=1913&exhibition=13&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |