An extremely rare famille-rose brushpot inscribed with imperial poems, Seal mark and period of Qianlong, dated in accordance with 1736. Photo Sotheby’s
of circular form supported on five short feet, delicately enamelled in black against a white ground with six imperial poems, inscribed with the characters Qianlong bingchen xiayue yuti (‘imperially inscribed by Qianlong Emperor during the summer months in the bingchen year’, corresponding to 1736), followed by two iron-red seals reading qianlong chenhan (‘by the very brush of the Qianlong Emperor’) and weijing weiyi (‘be precise, be undivided’), the interior and base enamelled in pale turquoise, the rim and feet gilt, the base inscribed in iron-red with a six-character seal mark. 10.2 cm., 4 in. Lot 3106. Estimation 2,500,000 — 3,500,000 HKD
EXPOSITION: Hosokawa Morisada Collection ten II – Shinno jiki, Persia no touki [Morisada Hosokawa Collection exhibition II – Qing porcelains and Persian ceramics], Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, Kumamoto, 1993, cat. no. 39.
LITTERATURE: Morisada Hosokawa, Mokumei goshiki: Shinchō jiki [Bewildering colours: Qing Dynasty porcelains], Tokyo, 1992, no. 67.
This piece originally belonged to an exclusive set of five brushpots, each inscribed with six poems. A second brushpot from this group, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in the Museum’s exhibition Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Ch’ien-lung Reign, Taipei, 2008, cat. no. 58. The poems on the present brushpot are the first six of a set of thirty composed by the Qianlong Emperor, entitled Xiaxing Sanshoshou (‘Thirty poems Inspired by Summer’), recorded in Yuzhi leshantang quanji dingben [Definitive edition of the complete works from the delight in Goodness Hall, by His Majesty], siku quanshu ed., vol. 30, pp. 6-7. Qianlong composed a preface dated 1737; thus these writings date from before he ascended to the throne in 1736.
The poems read and can be translated:
Little waterside pavilion screens rolled up
for the caltrop-scented breeze
From a fragrant brocade heaped atop ripples
with its dots and dots of reds.
This living silken scroll—who was it that unrolled it for me
To wonder if I myself might be in a picture?
Here in deep green shade of tall, graceful
pines and bamboos
I idly face my elegant study, its pleasures now no joy at all,
For after rain yon distant mountain really has the look of
A spiral coil coiffure, newly combed, its black colour deep.
Paulownia moon shadows mount the icy window
As cool dew, a slight inroad into the heat, descends.
At steps edge the sound of crickets
starts up, chirp and chirp again,
While fireflies in the forecourt
as of old form pairs and pairs.
I while away the long days by doing nothing at all,
No need even to make a move on the pine chessboard.
Now I’ve washed clean my Duan Brook
burnt white inkstone
And lean on the railing, for it’s
time to compose a poem again.
I idly step across the sedge grass
to rest on the stone jetty,
As a fresh breeze brings fine rain to fall thick and fast.
This third geng day prompts me to
anticipate the third month of autumn,
While the moist air lightly wets my fine linen shirt.
Out on glass uniformly azure, a myriad hectare void,
I sing all the ‘Lotus Picker’s Song’
as a midday breeze starts.
Why must one read the ‘Autumn Floods’
in the Scripture of Nanhua?
I just have to board a little boat for a view that never ends.
Dated to the summer months of the bingchen year of Qianlong (corresponding to 11th May – 6th August 1736), followed by the seals Qianlong chenhan (‘by the very brush of the Qianlong Emperor’) and Weiyi jingwei (‘Be precise, be undivided’, from ‘Dayu mo [Counsels of the Great Yu]’, Shujing [Classic of Documents or Book of History].
The poems adorning this brushpot are also found on a pair of Qianlong mark and period wall vases and a hanging scroll by Wang Youdun, both in the National Palace Museum, accession nos. zhong ci 005402 and gu shu 000561 respectively.
These inscribed brush pots may form part of a larger group commissioned in the 7th year of Qianlong (corresponding to 1742) and were most certainly produced before the 17th year of Qianlong’s reign when, according to imperial records, the emperor specified that the imperial poems composed after the first year of his reign were to be used rather than those in the Leshantang quanji which were written when he was still a prince (see Chi Jo-hsin, ‘cong wenwu kan Qianlong huangdi [understanding Qianlong Emperor through artifacts]’, Emperor Ch’ien-lung’s Grand Cultural Enterprise, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2002, p. 233).
Imperial inscriptions are found on a number of related brushpots, such as one sold in these rooms, 5th/6th November 1996, lot 921; and two of similar form and size, but the poetic inscriptions written in iron-red, included in the exhibition The Sun Yingzhou Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2003, cat. nos. 161 and 162; and another sold in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 2809.
Sotheby’s. Heirlooms of Chinese Art from the Hosokawa Clan, Hong Kong | 08 oct. 2014, 10:00 AM