• For the Enjoyment of Scholars: auction at Christies

    Sale 2391

    For the Enjoyment of Scholars: Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection

    25 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 939

    A RARE IMPERIAL DATED VARIEGATED RED AND BUFF SHOUSHAN SOAPSTONE RECTANGULAR SEAL

    DATED TO THE MIDDLE SPRING MONTH OF THE RENSHEN YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1752, AND OF THE PERIOD

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A RARE IMPERIAL DATED VARIEGATED RED AND BUFF SHOUSHAN SOAPSTONE RECTANGULAR SEAL
    DATED TO THE MIDDLE SPRING MONTH OF THE RENSHEN YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1752, AND OF THE PERIOD
    The top finely carved in high relief openwork with an interwoven design of a dragon-headed archaistic belthook, an oval archaistic ring and another horned dragon with scrolling foliate body, one long side carved with a fifteen-character inscription, Renshen chunzhong Shaoling Ju Juanci Huagetang zhencang ('A verse from Shaoling carved in mid-Spring of the renshen year for the Huagetang collection'), the base carved in seal characters, shui liu xin bu jing yun zai yi ju chi ('As the water flows turbulently along the river, my heart remains tranquil; it moves as slowly as the floating clouds')
    3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm.) long


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    Huagetang was the hall name used by the twenty-first son of the Kangxi emperor, Yun Xi, Prince Shen (1711-1758). The date renshen year in the inscription would, therefore, correspond to 1752. Shaoling was the style name of the famous Tang dynasty poet Du Fu, and the seal on the base is a couplet from his poem Jiang ting shi, 'The River Pavilion Poem', which recalls his pensive brooding by the waterside.

    A soapstone seal also carved on top with similar entwined horned chilong, dated to the Qing dynasty, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in 50 Selected Gems of Cultural Relics, Beijing, 1999, no. 141. Another small (8.6 cm. long) shoushan rectangular seal in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, which also has dragons carved in a manner similar to those on the present seal, once belonged to the Yongzheng emperor, and was included in the exhibition, Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2009, p. 77, I-39.

    Exhibited

    Oriental Works of Art, Gerard Hawthorn Ltd., London, 8 - 26 June 1999, no. 100.