QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY
of heart-shape section gently flaring at the mouth, finely carved in high-relief and openwork with a continuous scene of scholars in a garden nestled amidst trees, with a young gentleman talking to a lady leaning out of an open window, while a scholar drinks tea and converses with another elder across the balustrade, and a further young scholar enjoys the beauty of lotus blooming from a basin, inscribed on the left of the natural fissure with the characters Bao Mo Xuan ('Hall of Treasured Ink'), signed Zhi'an, followed by a seal Juping, the bottom attached to a wooden base
Masterfully carved in high-relief with extraordinary attention to detail, the present brushpot captures an impressive sense of depth and three-dimensionality through the carving of the figures in the round. For a brushpot similarly carved with large figures in a bamboo grove that extends to the rim in high undercut relief, see one from the Mary and George Bloch collection, included in the exhibition The Chinese Scholar's Desk, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1979, cat. no. 11, sold in these rooms, 23rd October 2005, lot 8; and another, but depicting numerous small figures in a vast landscape, included in the exhibition Chinese Bamboo Carving, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, cat. no. 76.
A native of Huangyan, Zhekiang province, Fang Jie, whose studio names were Zhi'an and Juping, was active during the reign of the Daoguang emperor (1821-50) and excelled in seal-carving and portraiture, as well as being famous for carving miniature figures with great detail and in a realistic manner.
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