3627
3627
A RARE FINELY CARVED TIANHUANG FIGURE OF A LUOHAN AND SOAPSTONE STAND
BY ZHOU BIN, 17TH CENTURY
Estimate
3,000,0004,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
3627
A RARE FINELY CARVED TIANHUANG FIGURE OF A LUOHAN AND SOAPSTONE STAND
BY ZHOU BIN, 17TH CENTURY
Estimate
3,000,0004,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong

A RARE FINELY CARVED TIANHUANG FIGURE OF A LUOHAN AND SOAPSTONE STAND
BY ZHOU BIN, 17TH CENTURY
the tianhuang masterfully carved in the form of a luohan seated on a separate base rendered in variegated red soapstone in the form of jagged rockwork, the figure portrayed seated upright in a relaxed manner and holding a handscroll in his right hand, further depicted with a cheerful expression accentuated with thin upturned lips, adorned in loose robes gilt-decorated with clouds and floral motifs and finely detailed hems embellished with tiny beads, the details on the garment meticulously picked out in gilt, incised with a Shangjun mark
overall 7.8 cm, 3 in.; tianhuang 55.39 gr.
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Provenance

Collection of James Albert Garland (1840-1902), by repute.

Catalogue Note

This magnificently carved tianhuang figure is signed by one of the great carvers of the 17th century, Zhou Bin, zi Shangjun, a native of Zhangzhou in Fujian province. According to Gerald Tsang and Hugh Moss in the catalogue to the exhibition Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, p. 86, the early soapstone master carvers are set apart by one key feature: every figure is conceived as an individual work of art. This characteristic is evident in the present carving, which is notable not only for the outstanding piece of tianhuang it has been fashioned from but also in the careful and sensitive consideration of his facial expression and details to convey his spirit and individuality, as well as the masterfully conceived robes which fall naturalistically around his body. The golden hue of the precious stone further imbues this figure with a sense of vitality and wisdom, while the soapstone stand with its openwork carving provides a pleasing contrast to his smooth contours.

Fang Zonggui in Shoushanshi zhi [Records of Shoushan Stone], Fuzhou, 1982, pp. 77-78, notes that Zhou’s works were always prized in artistic circles and that he used the Chinese painting concept of xieyi ('idea painting') in carving landscapes, flowers, pines, and bamboo. Amongst his carvings are a series of small figural sculptures, usually seated on elaborate cushions or rockwork bases, of which several have survived; see a tianhuang carving of Maitreya, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in Zhongguo meishu quanji [The complete collection of Chinese art], vol. 6, Beijing, 1988, pl. 158; and a figure of Guanyin in a grotto, included in the exhibition Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, op. cit., cat. no. 165, together with a soapstone luohan, cat. no. 44, sold in these rooms, 4th April 2012, lot 136.

Other carvings by Zhou include a luohan fashioned in stone, in the National Museum of History, Beijing, published in Zhongguo wenwu jinghua daquan: Jin yin yu shi juan [Complete series on the finest cultural relics of China: gold, silver, jade and stone volume], Hong Kong, 1994, p. 83, pl. 242; and a baifurong figure of Maitreya, sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 25th May 2011, lot 208.

Important Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong