The two-character signature Ziye
on the present teapot is the zi
of Qu Yingshao (1780-1849). Qu Yingshao, hao
Yuehu, Qufu, Laoye, a native of Songjiang, Shanghai, active in the Jiaqing and Daoguang periods, excelled at seal carving, appraising antiques, and painting bamboo. He was particularly successful in utilizing Yixing teapots as a medium for expressing calligraphy and incised designs derived from painting. By incorporating the greatest achievements of literati art into his approach to teapot-making, he superbly demonstrated the skills of the potter in achieving harmony of form. Qu often worked with other artists or potters in the making of a teapot. Evidence for this can be found in Li Jingkang and Zhang Hong, A Pictorial Study of the Teapots of Yangxian
, Hong Kong, 1937, where the author discusses how Qu typically designed the teapots, commissioned their manufacture, and then decorated them with his friend and fellow seal carver Deng Gui, ‘Teapots of good quality Qu Yingshao would personally inscribe and decorate with carved bamboo or prunus.'
The shape of the present teapot is referred to as shipiao
(stone-dipper) in Chinese. In traditional Yixing connoisseurship, this classic shape is also commonly known as Ziye
-form, after Qu Yinshao who innovated this iconic form. The versatile form, with its extended flat surface space, was perfectly proportioned for the carefully positioned engraved calligraphy and painting. Another teapot of this form, made in collaboration with Qiao Zhongxi, formerly in Zhang Hong’s Bishan Huguang Collection and now preserved in the Bei Shan Tang collection, illustrated in Li Jingkang and Zhang Hong, A Pictorial Study of the Teapots of Yangxian
, Hong Kong, 1937, p. 37, was included in the exhibition The Bei Shan Tang Legacy. Yixing Zisha Stoneware
, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2015, cat. no. 28. A teapot made by Shen Xi and inscribed by Qu, is illustrated in K.S. Lo, The Stoneware of Yixing from the Ming Period to the Present Day
, London, 1986, pl. 38, together with one made by Yang Pengnian and incised by Qu, pl. 39; see a further teapot made by the two together, published in Liang Baiquan, Yixing Purple Clay Ware
, Beijing and Hong Kong, 1991, pl. 63; as well as another example, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Sha, sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 24th November 2013, lot 103.
Compare also a ‘stone-dipper’ teapot by Qu Yingshao from the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, similarly incised with bamboo and calligraphy, illustrated in Terese Tse Bartholomew, I-Hsing Ware, China House Gallery, China Institute of America, New York, 1977, cat. no. 19; and a closely related teapot incised by Qu Yingshao with bamboo and willow, from the collection of Max Robertson, exhibited in Documentary Chinese Works of Art. In Scholar’s Taste, Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, 1983, cat. no. 91. Another teapot bearing the Ziye signature, but of a different shape, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Wang Jianhua, ed., Yixing Zisha Wares in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2009, pl. 64.
For other Qu Yingshao teapots, see a similar example from the collection of Paul Moss, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 1st June 2017, lot 511; and one of a different shape, formerly in the collections of Pang Yuanji and Thomas Lee, and later in the collections of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 2nd June 2016, lot 31; and another was sold in our Paris rooms, 15th December 2016, lot 173. A further 'stone-dipper' teapot, from the George and Mary Bloch Collection was included in the exhibitions Yixing Pottery, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1981, cat. no. 62, and Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 107, and was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 23rd October 2005, lot 135.
The inscription of the present teapot suggests that the carved bamboo design was inspired by the painting of Gui Wenxiu. Gui Changshi (1573-1644), zi Wenxiu, hao Jiaan, a native of Kunshan, Jiangsu province, was a painter, calligrapher, poet, and seal carver of the Ming dynasty. He was a master in bamboo painting and renowned for depicting bamboo in the wind and rain.