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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 57 

Lot 57

Lot 57
Treasury 4, no. 525 (‘A Toad Worthy of Great Wealth’)

Crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a flat lip and flat foot; painted on one main side with a landscape scene with a foreground of a grassy mound growing with mature pine trees and another species, beneath which stroll a scholar and his attendant carrying a qin under his arm as they approach an open pavilion beyond the trees, the other main side with Liu Hai 劉海 perched on a rocky outcrop beyond a mature pine tree, luring his three-legged toad from the water below with a string of cash, inscribed in cursive script Kuimao mengdong xie yu dumen, Ye Zhongsan 癸卯孟冬寫於都門葉仲三 (‘Painted by Ye Zhongsan at the capital in the first month of winter in the year kuimao’) with one seal of the artist, yin 印 (‘seal’) in negative seal script
Ye Zhongsan, the Apricot Grove Studio, Chongwen district, Beijing, first month of winter, 1903
Height: 6.11 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.56/1.62 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Jade House, Hong Kong (1985)

Kleiner 1995, no. 407
Treasury 4, no. 525

British Museum, London, June–November 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997
Christie’s, London, 1999

This is another crystal bottle almost certainly made for Ye to paint. It is of similar shape to Sale 6, lot 178, where our reasons are given for this conclusion, and it is also exaggeratedly flat, which is ideally suitable for painting. Inside it, Ye has quite faithfully copied Zhou Leyuan’s landscape style (see, for instance, Sale 8, lot 1098, and lot 25 in the present auction), although he has made his two figures a little larger in scale. It would not pass for one of Zhou’s works, but it is much closer than Sale 7, lot 112, where Ye has made no attempt to imitate the style, but only the content of Zhou’s landscapes.

On the other side is a subject that Ye appears to have painted in 1902 the first time. Again, it is a case of Ye having absorbed Zhou’s style and re-expressed it in a manner entirely his own. There could be no question of the authorship of this painting even without an identifying signature.

The toad in this case is an impressive-looking creature not far off the size of Liu Hai himself if his upper body is anything to go by, and this is the standard image used by Ye in painting the subject.


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=2063&exhibition=14&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |