The Leshantang Collection – Treasures of Chinese Art from the Tsai I-Ming Collection

The Leshantang Collection – Treasures of Chinese Art from the Tsai I-Ming Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 114. Xiang Shengmo, House of Heavenly Fragrance | 項聖謨  天香書屋 設色紙本 立軸.

Xiang Shengmo, House of Heavenly Fragrance | 項聖謨  天香書屋 設色紙本 立軸

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October 8, 04:16 AM GMT


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Lot Details


Xiang Shengmo

1597 - 1658

House of Heavenly Fragrance

ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll

signed Shengmo, dated the first year of Chongzhen reign, titled and with five seals of the artist

inscribed on the upper right corner by Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and with one seal of his; and by Emperor Qianlong and with two seals of his

with one collector’s seal of An Qi (1683-?), five collector’s seals of Qianlong and five other collectors’ seals

inscribed on its wooden box by Naito Torajiro (1866-1934), dated renshen (1932) and with two seals of his

titleslip by Lin Xiongguang (1897-1971) and with one seal of his

66.5 x 23.5 cm 26 x 9 ¼ in.


項聖謨 1597 - 1658

天香書屋 設色紙本 立軸















Christie's Hong Kong, Fine Classical Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, 3 November 1996, Lot 339



The Leshan Tang Collection of Classical Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, Leshan Tang, Taipei, July 2006, pp. 86-87, 154

2. Ching Wan Society Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, Painting, Ching Wan Society, Taipei, October 2012, pp. 62-63

3.Qinggong Zaobanchu jidang[General collection of archival records from the Qing imperial household department workshop], the thirty-nine year of Qianlong era

4. Qing gaozong (Qianlong) yuzhi shiwen quanji [Anthology of imperial Qianlong poems and text], jun 6

5. Please refer to the Chinese literature



1. 安歧〈墨緣彙觀錄〉,卷四名畫下,〈宋元明名畫大觀高冊〉,第十八幅,頁19-20

2. 《清宮造辦處活計檔》,〈雜錄檔-宮中檔簿〉,乾隆三十九年八月初一,〈尚書稽璜進貢〉,清石印本

3. 乾隆〈御製詩二集〉,卷六,古今體八十一首(戊辰六),〈題項聖謨天香書屋圖〉,頁12-13


1. 〈樂山堂藏古代書畫〉(臺北,樂山堂,二〇〇六年七月),頁86-87、154

2. 〈清翫雅集廿周年慶收藏展.書畫〉(台北,清翫雅集,二〇一二年十月),頁62-63

Ching Wan Society Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, National Museum of History, Taipei, 20 October 2012 – 9 December 2012



" The Tianxiang Studio" ("The Studio of Frangrace from Heaven") by Xiang Shengmo is a renowned artwork of considerable historical and artistic significance. Xiang was a native of Jiaxing, Zhejiang, and a descendant of Xiang Yuanbian. He was born with considerable family wealth, enabling him to collect a vast array of art pieces. Despite opportunities for official career pursuits, he chose to dedicate himself to the refinement of his painting skills. From an early age, he immersed himself in the study of classical works, notably those from the Song and Yuan dynasties, which significantly influenced his artistic style and earned him acclaim in later times.

During his formative years, Xiang Shengmo embraced the aesthetic of the Wu School, particularly the brushwork of renowned artists such as Shen Zhou and Wen Zhengming. He diligently copied the finest artworks from his family collection, thereby honing his skills through emulation of ancient masters. His wide social connections allowed him to forge close relationships with prominent figures in the art world, including Dong Qichang, Chen Jiru, and Li Rihua, which greatly contributed to his early success as a painter.

However, as Xiang Shengmo reached middle age, his artistic style underwent a transformation. This period coincided with the Donglin Party struggles, which caused considerable suffering among the common people and led to political instability. In response, Xiang Shengmo's paintings shifted from idyllic and sweet depictions to more intricate and realistic representations, focusing on scenes of human suffering and societal calamities. Notably, he produced works such as "Summer Flood in the Year of Jiazi" and "Autumn Drought in the Year of Yichou," which conveyed poignant critiques directed at the imperial court.

In his later years, Xiang Shengmo's disillusionment with the political climate deepened, particularly after the rise of the Qing Dynasty and the tragic fate of his family. Consequently, he withdrew from public life and sought solace in the seclusion of the mountains. His poetry and artworks from this period reflect a profound sense of regret and resentment stemming from his personal experiences of national adversity.

"The Tianxiang Studio" was created in the first year of Chongzhen (1628) and dedicated to a relative named Xiang Jia. During this period, Empire Chongzhen had just ascended the throne, and significant political reforms were underway, accompanied by the prominence of Yuan Chonghuan and the downfall of Wei Zhongxian. As a talented painter, Xiang Shengmo received a royal commission to "paint the Nine Chapters of the Imperial Robes"[1] and embarked on an artistic journey with Li Rihua to various locales[2]. This journey spanned nine months and contributed to his artistic vitality and creative peak.

The current work features an inscription by Dong Qichang on its upper right corner, referencing another work by Wang Meng with the same title. However, Dong illustrated Xiang’s artistic style on this painting consciously chose to emulate the style of Zhao Boju rather than Wang Meng, which emphasizes his intimate familiarity with Xiang Shengmo's artistic techniques. The connection between Dong Qichang and the Xiang family dates back to 1573 when Dong, at the age of seventeen, visited Jiaxing to study the their art collection[3]. Dong Qichang played a significant role in nurturing Xiang Shengmo's artistic development from an early age. Despite a considerable age difference between them, Dong often provided guidance and encouragement to the younger artist, as evidenced by his colophons.

“The ancients appreciated paintings that required mastery of all thirteen essential techniques, a truly challenging feat. Even great artists like Fan Kuan needed skilled hands to paint figures in his works. However, Xiang Shengmo's album excels in every aspect, be it trees, rocks, buildings, flowers, or figures, rivaling the masterpieces of the Song. The landscapes also bear the essence of Yuan Dynasty style.

Such paintings demand not only natural talent but also hard work and dedication. Xiang Yuanbian, with such a descendant, is a rewarding return on his century-long collection efforts.”[4]

Later in the ninth year of Chongzheng, Xiang’s later work "Landscape Album" described that Xiang’s younger brother encountered Dong Qichang, who entrusted him to request paintings from Xiang Shengmo. Dong Qichang specified the themes as "Apricot Blossoms in Spring" and "The Tianxiang Studio"[5], which may indicate Dong Qichang’s highly praise of the current painting.

In the upper middle of the painting, an imperial poem composed by Qianlong is inscribed. Although the specific date is not provided, it is deduced to have been written in the year of Wuchen (1748) by “Yuzhishi Erji”’. This suggests that this painting entered the imperial collection no later than that 1748, during which the initial compilation of "Shiqu Baoji" was completed. Furthermore, records indicate that Emperor Qianlong gifted the painting to Ji Huang (1711-1794) in the thirty-ninth year of his reign (1774), as evidenced by entries in the "Qing Palace Bureau Account Book." This offers an explanation as to why the painting was not included in " Shiqu Baoji". Thus, an overview of the artwork's provenance reveals its journey through various collectors and collections including An Qi, Qianlong, Ji Huang, Naito Torajiro, Lin Xiongguang and eventually arrived at Leshantang.

[1] Li Rihua’s colophon after Xiang Shengmo’s “Five Oxen after Han Huang” in Shiqubaoji, wrote in 1631

[2] Illustrated in “An untrammeled immortal and soughing pines” by Xiang Shengmo, Collection of Museum of Fine Art Boston

[3] Illustrated in “Huachan Shi Suibi” by Dong Qichang

[4] Illustrated in the fifth character in “Shigutang Shuhua huikao” by Bian Yongyu

[5] Illustrated in the eleventh character in “Xu li” from “Qianyuan Zongji”, page 9







[1] 項聖謨《臨韓滉五牛圖》,著錄於《石渠寶笈》,李日華題於辛未(1631)初秋。

[2] 《松濤散仙圖》卷後項聖謨自題,現藏美國波士頓博物館

[3] 董其昌《畫禪室隨筆》:「吾在學十七歲時。…比遊嘉興,得盡睹項子京家藏真跡。」

[4] 見卞永譽《式古堂書畫匯考》卷五

[5] 見《潛園總集》,〈續梨‧十一〉,頁九