Lot 573
  • 573


400,000 - 600,000 USD
475,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Height 6 1/8  in., 15.6 cm
of cylindrical form with a shallow recessed base, meticulously carved in varied layers of relief with a continuous scene of six scholars accompanied by attendants all gathering in a garden setting with bamboo, pine, plantain, and wutong trees, and rockwork creating a harmonious environment around the tucked-away studios, swirling clouds above and a flowing stream beneath, two of the scholars seated at a table appreciating a painting, another pair drinking and conversing by a babbling brook, two others ambling along a balustraded path, the stone a deep emerald green mottled with paler green patches


Collection of Samuel M. (1830-1914) and Matilda Nickerson (1837-1912).
Gifted to The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, in 1900 (acc. no. 1900.765).


Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel M. Nickerson: presented to The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1900, cat. no. 18.

Catalogue Note

The present brushpot is intricately carved with an idyllic scene of scholars at leisure. The erudite companions have convened for an 'elegant gathering' at an open-air studio set in a hilly garden lush with vegetation. Natural and balustraded paths snake above the rocky riverbanks connecting the various areas of the garden. At one side of a pavilion, water flows swiftly down a hillside stream before joining the current running around the foot of the brushpot. Boulders, mature wutong, foliate bamboo, prickly pines, and large-leafed plantain trees, each carved to varying depths, fill the composition with texture, naturalism, and sweeping lines that lead the eye on an active journey around the vessel. The overall effect is a coherent environment that perfectly accommodates the scholars' needs to immerse themselves in nature without forgoing the creature comforts that enable them to pursue their vocation. A number of impressive spinach-green jade brushpots carved with 'elegant gatherings', or related idealized scholarly scenes such as the 'Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion' or the 'Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove' were produced in the 18th century, when blocks of large, good-quality jade became available and the art of jade carving was at its zenith. Excellent examples of this type include a Qianlong era green jade brushpot in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, which is carved with six scholars gathered at Zhu Xi ('Bamboo Stream'), and features a vignette similar to the one on the present brushpot wherein a scholar seated at a painting table is helped to wine by an attendant, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 169.

Other impressive spinach-green jade brushpots of this caliber and category that are held in major collections include one depicting the 'Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion', formerly in the Heber Bishop Collection, and now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 02.18.679; one with a four-character Qianlong mark and illustrating a literati gathering at Xi Yuan ('Western Garden') in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in ibid., pl. 168; and a brushpot deftly carved with the 'Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove' from the collection of E. L. Paget, illustrated in Stanley Charles Nott, Chinese Jade throughout the Ages: A Review of its Characteristics, Decoration, Folklore, and Symbolism, Rutland and Tokyo, 1962, pl. CXXVI.

See also a spinach-green jade brushpot carved with the 'Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove' and inscribed with a Qianlong mark and a date corresponding to 1776, from the Concordia House Collection, which sold in these rooms, 19th March 2007, lot 50; a 'scholarly gathering' green jade brushpot, formerly in the collection of the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University, sold in these rooms, 18th March 2008, lot 16; and an imperial spinach-green jade brushpot carved with a scene from Xi Yuan ('Western Garden') and a 39-character imperial poem with a date corresponding to 1748, from the collection of Charles Gaillart de Blairville (b. 1821), sold at Christie's Paris, 15th December 2010, lot 106.