• A Connoisseur's Vision: Proper auction at Christies

    Sale 2529

    A Connoisseur's Vision: Property from the Xu Hanqing Collection

    15 September 2011, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 932

    A RARE TIANHUANG OR SHOUSHAN GAOSHANDONG SOAPSTONE OVAL SEAL

    KANGXI PERIOD (1662-1722)

    Price Realised  

    A RARE TIANHUANG OR SHOUSHAN GAOSHANDONG SOAPSTONE OVAL SEAL
    KANGXI PERIOD (1662-1722)
    The seal knop finely carved as a recumbent elephant with finely incised markings to indicate its hide, by its side a foreigner wearing a jacket and pantaloons stands with one foot resting on the elephant's trunk as he hands an object to another similarly dressed figure sprawled beside a hooked staff atop a patterned blanket draped over the elephant's back, with the two-character signature, Shangjun, incorporated in the narrow band of interlocking C-scrolls at the top of the oval block, which is later-inscribed on one side, Kugong shu Kutie (Kugong requested Kutie [to carve the seal face]), the seal face reading: pi qin (infatuated with the qin), the stone of mottled pale caramel color
    1¾ in. (4.5 cm.) high, cloth box


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    Inscriptions on the cover of the box and the interior of the cover state that the seal finial was carved by Shangjun 'from cold tianhuang stone'; that Kutie refers to Wu Changshou; and that Kugong refers to Tao Zhai.
    Shangjun is the style name of Zhou Bin, a native of Fujian province, who was believed to have worked during the Kangxi period, and was known for his fine carving, especially of seal finials.
    Kutie is the nickname of Wu Changshou, and Kugong is the nickname of the collector Tao Duanfang, also known as Tao Zhai.
    Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), sometimes called Wu Changshi, was a central figure in Chinese painting during the early years of the 20th century. He was known for his calligraphic work and seals, which were famous for their elegance. His style of carving was known as the "Wu style". In 1904, he became the first director of the Xiling Seal Carving Society, an organization in Hangzhou dedicated to studying seal carving.
    Tao Duanfang (1861-1911) was a late Qing dynasty government official who amassed an extraordinary collection of Chinese art. Known as the Taozhai Collection, it included Neolithic jades, Shang and Zhou dynasty bronzes, landscape paintings and Buddhist sculpture. In 1909, he published Taozhai jijin xulu, the first catalogue to use the photolithographic process to print rubbings of bronzes.

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