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    Sale 7720

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Export Art

    12 May 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 97

    AN IMPERIAL WHITE JADE TABLE SCREEN

    QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-95)

    Price Realised  

    AN IMPERIAL WHITE JADE TABLE SCREEN
    QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-95)
    The upright rectangular plaque carved and pierced with a pair of confronting dragons to the top and scrolling designs to the sides, the front carved in relief with a farmer ploughing with a bullock in a tree-lined scene, the reverse with a lady and child in a walled garden before two ladies spinning in an interior, the stone of an even pale tone
    8¼ in. (20.9 cm.) high, wood stand


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    The scenes on either side of this beautiful screen are undoubtedly inspired by the woodblock illustrations in the Yuzhi Gengzhi tu (Pictures of Tilling and Weaving). In the 28th year of his reign (AD 1696) the Kangxi emperor commissioned Jiao Bingzhen to create paintings from which the famous carver Zhu Gui could cut woodblocks for illustrations to be included in an imperially printed volume based on the Paintings of Tilling and Weaving by the artist Lou Shu (AD 1090-1162) of the Southern Song dynasty, which had been published around AD 1237. This original version of the Gengzhi tu contained forty-five illustrations with accompanying poems. Twenty-one of these scenes depicted tilling and cultivation of rice, while twenty-four scenes depicted sericulture, spinning and weaving. It is possible that no copies of this original work were extant in China by the time the Kangxi publication came to be made, although a Ming dynasty edition based upon it was preserved in Japan. The Kangxi edition, which was specifically sponsored by the emperor, contained forty-six woodblock illustrations - twenty-three of tilling (work in the fields) and twenty-three of weaving (sericulture and associated work). The Yuzhi in the title of this volume indicates the direct involvement of the emperor himself, who wrote quatrains above each illustration. Although the poems were officially from the emperor's own brush it is likely that at least some were written by officials on his behalf, but they are reproduced in the style of his calligraphy.

    From the time of its publication was extremely influential. In an album which was probably produced while he was still a prince, the future Yongzheng emperor has himself depicted in the scenes from the Yuzhi Gengzhi tu (illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 14 Paintings by the Court Arts of the Qing Court, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1996, no.11). The Kangxi publication also inspired designs in many branches of the decorative arts, including porcelains, carved lacquers, woven and embroidered silks, and jade. The Qianlong emperor, who was particularly devoted to his grandfather, the Kangxi emperor, undoubtedly commissioned works decorated with designs taken from the Yuzhi Gengzhi tu. The current screen has a scene inspired by one of the 'tilling' woodblock illustrations on one side and a scene inspired by one of the 'weaving' illustrations on the other.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    T. B. Kitson Collection; Sotheby's London, 21 February 1961, lot 300.


    Saleroom Notice

    'Part of the proceeds of the sale of Chinese art from the estate of the late Audrey Burton will benefit the charitable foundation that she established with her husband, and part will be allocated by her Executors for other purposes'.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THE LATE MRS AUDREY BURTON, OBE

    (Lots 97 - 115, and Lot 159)