Lot 9
  • 9

Important et grand pot à pinceaux en jade vert épinard Dynastie Qing, époque Kangxi-Qianlong

300,000 - 500,000 EUR
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  • Jade
  • H : 17.6 cm - D : 20 cm
de forme cylindrique reposant sur cinq courts pieds arqués, le pourtour finement et richement sculpté en relief d'un paysage aux rochers escarpés, peuplé de pins noueux et de saules, figurant Les Cinq Vieillards de Suiyang, l'un puisant de l'eau dans la rivière, escorté de deux serviteurs tenant un service à thé, l'autre côté planté d'un pavillon abritant un lettré lisant un poème pour trois autres lettrés se promenant à l'extérieur, un serviteur s'approchant pour leur servir le thé, la base sculptée en léger relief imitant une surface rocailleuse, la pierre au doux poli tachetée d'inclusions blanches et noires


Collection of A. Knight, Esq., London.
Christie's London, 21st March 1966, lot 152.
(No. 75 in the collectors' files).


The design is deeply carved and undercut. There minute fritts to the sharp edges of the design. There is a ca. 0.5 cm wide shallow chip on one branch, and a small chip to the tip of one leaf. The slightly rounded rim is uneven and may have been repolished. There is a natural vein/fissure running through the stone across the base which been incorporated into the carving of the base. The stone is a dark green colour with a yellowish tinge.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The continuous scene skilyfully carved around the exterior of this brushpot shows the gathering of five elderly gentlemen in a secluded landscape setting. The subject commemorates the retirement and friendship of five respected octogenarians in Sui-yang, present day Henan province, and is known as the 'Five Old Men of Suiyang'. It refers to a painting of the Five Old Men of Suiyang (Suiyang wu lao tu), originally painted around 1050 and later divided into five parts now in Western museum collections. Each features one of these aged honourable scholar-officials including Du Yan, who had attained the rank of prime minister, the highest rank among the five, was just eighty, Zhu Guan, a native of Suiyang, and the Director of the Ministry of War, who was eighty-eight, Bi Shichang, Wang Huan and Feng Ping. Each portrait is followed by numerous admiring inscriptions and poems by notable scholars of the Northern Song period, praising the joys of retirement when, free from the formalities and restraints of the court, these old men could indulge in the joys of life. 

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.