Important et grand pot à pinceaux en jade vert épinard Dynastie Qing, époque Kangxi-Qianlong
- Haut. 17,8 cm, height 7 in. ; diam. 20,1 cm, 7 7/8 in.
Christie's London, 21st March 1966, lot 152.
(No. 75 in the collectors' files).
As one of the earliest inscriptions on one of the portrait notes from the painting notes 'now with crane-white hair, all (five elders) feel ready to prepare the Taoist's cap. Suddenly arriving among forests and streams, they are able to let themselves go; having thrown away their hair clasps and sashes, they esteem leisure wandering', see Peter C. Sturman, 'In the Realm of Naturalness: Problems of Self-Imaging by the Northern Song Literati.', in Maxwell K. Hearn and Judith G. Smith, Arts of the Sung and Yuan, New York, 1996, p. 168.
While the painting adheres in its rendering of the Five Old Men to formal portrait paintings, the same scholars on the present brushpot are shown in a very relaxed and informal way, clearly showing each of them enjoying themselves in different activities. As such, this brushpot is like a long scroll with a narrative enfolding around the sides, showing the five venerable scholars travelling through the countryside, passing a leisurely day of feasting and drinking, enjoying the hidden delights of forests and streams.
This brushpot belongs to a group of spinach-green jade brushpots of similarly large size, all carved with scholars and immortals in landscape settings, several of these titled and inscribed with a poem by Qianlong emperor. Compare an example carved with the 'Six Old Men in Zhu Xi' (Zhu xi liu yi) (Fig. 1), in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, vol. 42, Jadeware, III, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 207 and 208, pl. 169, which similarly features one scholar elatedly raising both arms. Yet another brushpot of even larger size, carved around the body with 'Gathering of Scholars in the Western Garden' (Xi Yuan yaji), was sold at Christie's Paris, 15th December 2010, lot 106. Yet another inscribed example was included in the Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits for the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, vol. IV, Miscellaneous, London, 1936, no. 43.