522
522
A FINELY CARVED IVORY 'HORSES OF MU WANG' BRUSHPOT
QING DYNASTY, 18TH – 19TH CENTURY
JUMP TO LOT
522
A FINELY CARVED IVORY 'HORSES OF MU WANG' BRUSHPOT
QING DYNASTY, 18TH – 19TH CENTURY
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong

A FINELY CARVED IVORY 'HORSES OF MU WANG' BRUSHPOT
QING DYNASTY, 18TH – 19TH CENTURY
of cylindrical form, the exterior deftly carved in relief with eight horses and five groomsmen in a riverside landscape set with jagged rocks and knotted pine trees, four groomsmen hauling horses by the river while another holds a bucket feeding a horse, the ivory patinated to a warm honey tone, wood stand
16.8 cm, 6 5/8  in.
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Provenance

Hugh Moss, London, by repute.
An eminent English collection.

Catalogue Note

In its outstanding use of three-dimensional modelling, the present brushpot bears testament to Qing-dynasty ivory carvers' aspiration to parallel the naturalistic artisanship developed by renowned bamboo carvers from the Jiading School in the early 18th century.

The scene depicts groomsmen attending to the legendary eight horses of Mu Wang. It is said that Mu Wang travelled around his kingdom in a chariot drawn by eight mighty horses in search of the heavenly paradise. The eight horses were all given a distinctive name and were eventually liberated from their harnesses and let out to graze after many years of faithful service to the king.

A bamboo brushpot depicting the same subject, dated to early Qing dynasty and now preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carving, Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 33, could be a prototype or direct source of inspiration to the present ivory brushpot, as demonstrated by its close composition arrangement and similar treatment to the tree bark with characteristic deep swirling knots and a scaled surface.

The present ivory brushpot is fashioned with a sunken ground where figural and landscape sections are modelled in the round with undercutting, a technique noted by Wang Shixiang in Bamboo Carving in China, New York, 1983, p. 36, as originated from bamboo artisans transferring their skills to the carving of ivory. An ivory brushpot depicting a scene of rural life rendered in this technique, from the Irving collection, is included in Craig Clunas, Chinese Ivories from the Shang to the Qing, London, 1984, pl. 176.

Compare also two ivory examples from the Simon Kwan collection, attributed to the Qianlong – Jiaqing periods and sharing remarkable similarities in their figural modelling, illustrated in Simon Kwan, Chinese Ivories from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong, 1990, pls 120 and 122.

Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong