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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 37 

Lot 37

Lot 37
Treasury 6, no. 1448 (‘Early Spring’)
HK$137,500

White glaze and beige stoneware-slip on brown stoneware; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex foot rim, with a raised, flat circular panel on each main side; one painted in slip with an open pavilion beyond a foreground of rocks and trees, with rocks, a shore, and an upsweeping rocky hill across the water behind the pavilion, the sun or moon in the sky above, the other side engraved in clerical script Guimao mengchun 癸卯孟春 (‘First month of spring of the guimao year’), followed by the signature, Ziqiang 子強; the foot and the interior glazed
Bottle: the Slip Master, Yixing, 1783
Engraving: Ziqiang, 1783
Height: 5.91 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.50/1.46 cm
Stopper: aventurine-glass; silver collar

Provenance:
John Ault (2002)
Robert Kleiner (2002)

Published:
Kleiner 1990, no. 205
JICSBS, Spring 2006, p. 12, fig. 22
Treasury 6, no. 1448

We have coined the title ‘Slip Master’ for the artist who developed this group of wares, all of which seem to come from a single workshop, possibly from a single hand. Although wares other than snuff-bottles by him are relatively rare, there is a teapot in the museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong that is decorated with a typical beige slip landscape on a brown ground that can only be from his hand (Gu Jingzhou, Xu Xiutang, and Li Changhong 1992, no. 91). An elaborate mark on the base says that it was made by the Nanxi xuan 南溪軒 (‘Southern Creek Pavilion’), which Gu et al. attribute to the Daoguang era, but the pot’s lid is signed by Yang Pengnian 楊彭年, the famous Yixing potter active in the Jiaqing era.

It does not seem to have been noticed by anyone that Nanxi xuan is probably a mark of Yang Pengnian. Yang was a native of Jingxi 荊溪, a county that was split off from Yixing in 1726 and existed as a separate administrative unit until 1912. Jingxi is named for one of the creeks that flow eastward into Lake Tai. Another name for the same creek is Nanxi, Southern Creek. (Xu Shuying 徐叔鷹et al., Suzhou dili 蘇州地理 [The geography of Suzhou], Suzhou: Guwuxuan chubanshe, 2010, p. 74.) Thus, Southern Creek Pavilion is not just a poetic name to put on a teapot; it refers to a specific locale, one that happens to be Yang’s ancestral home.

Yang is unlikely to have been the decorator of the teapot, but it would not be unlikely for him to have collaborated with a local master of slip-painting just as he collaborated with Chen Mansheng 陳曼生 (1768 – 1822), who contributed so many incised calligraphic decorations to Yang’s teapots. If Yang Pengnian did the Chinese University of Hong Kong teapot, he may have done this snuff bottle, as well.

Whether or not that is the case, the Slip Master’s works sit quite comfortably in the mid-Qing period at sometime between, say, the 1770s and the 1830s. Most are undated, but the dates that do occur range from 1780, through the present example, to the 1822 date of Sale 3, lot 46.

Ziqiang is not recorded as a Yixing potter, nor can he be identified with any scholar who might have engraved the inscription here. If Ziqiang was a scholar-engraver working together with a potter, his involvement may not have been consistent. For this reason we have not credited all bottles of this style to Ziqiang, but to the otherwise anonymous Slip Master.

 

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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