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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 69 

Lot 69

Lot 69
Treasury 4, no. 669 (‘Portrait After Ma Shaoxuan’)

Glass, ink, and watercolours; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; painted on one main side with an ancient pine growing in a mountainous landscape with a waterfall, distant hills, and clouds, inscribed in cursive script with the title Dumen yipin 都門一品 (‘The First Rank in the Capital’), followed by Gengwu heyue Liu Shouben zuo 庚午荷月劉守本作 (‘Executed in the sixth month of the year gengwu by Liu Shouben’), with one seal of the artist, yin 印 (‘seal’), in negative seal script, the other main side with a portrait bust of an unidentified man after Ma Shaoxuan, inscribed in regular-cursive script, Zhuang Zhibo xiansheng Meili nüshi yazheng, gengwu zhi qiu, Liu Shouben ti 莊智博先生美麗女士雅正,庚午之秋劉守本題 (‘[Awaiting] the correction of George and Mary Bloch, inscribed by Liu Shouben in the autumn of the year gengwu’) followed by one seal of the artist, yin 印 (‘seal’), in negative seal script
Liu Shouben, Beijing, sixth month and autumn, 1990
Height: 6.12 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.60/1.78 cm
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

Robert Kleiner (1990)

Treasury 4, no. 669

Christie’s, London, 1999

Liu Shouben was born in 1943. Although he did not come from an artistically educated family, he loved art above all else at school. Leaving school early, he began work as a grinder of pigments in the cloisonné factory at Beijing. In October of 1960, he and Ding Guiling 丁桂玲 were re-assigned to the inside-painted workshop where the Ye brothers worked and taught their students Wang Xisan 王習三 and Ye Shuying 葉樹英.

Apart from learning the art of inside painting from the Ye brothers, Liu Shouben and Wang Xisan both eagerly studied traditional painting, sketching, and other arts in their spare time and visited the Palace Museum whenever they could. They were both ardent students of Chinese culture in general, and both devoured books on a regular basis trying to improve their understanding of their tradition. For a fuller account of Liu and his works, see J. H. Leung 1990, pp. 120–127.

The pine tree in landscape painted on the other main side of this bottle is after the style of Zhou Leyuan; Liu demonstrates here how well he could follow the master’s style. It is essentially the same sort of view as we saw in Zhou’s Sale 2, lots 41 and 66, where a pine grows on a high promontory, allowing the viewer to look down into the valley below. Although there are differences between Zhou’s work and Liu’s, Liu has mastered the style extremely well.

Liu Shouben recalls copying this portrait from a photograph he saw of a painting by Ma Shaoxuan that was in a bottle apparently sold to a couple in Taiwan. He was very impressed by Ma’s portraiture and decided to copy the painting in order to help him master the style. Although we have been unable to identify the subject of this portrait, it bears a marked resemblance to the entrepreneur, cabinet member, and educator Zhang Jian 張謇 (1853–1926 — see Curtis 1980, pp. 63–65).


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=2246&exhibition=17&ee_lang=eng


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