Little is known about the artist Hu Wenxiang, although he was a native of Xinwu near Jingdezhen. Few examples of his work survive, and those which do are of exceptional quality, exhibiting deep, pronounced carving such as that seen on the current brushpot.
For a yellow-glazed porcelain brushpot by the artist, also carved in high relief with a similar landscape, see T. Miller and H. Hui, Elegance in Relief: Carved Porcelain from Jingdezhen of the 19th and 20th Centuries, The Chinese Univeristy of Hong Kong, 2006, p. 132, no. 23. A similar scene of a figure peering from a pavilion window can be seen on a mottled green and white carved porcelain snuff bottle, also by Hu Wenxiang, illustrated ibid., p. 241, no. 97.
The carved seal on the brushpot may refer to the last line of the poem 'Seeing off Xin Jian on the Hibiscus Tower', composed by Wang Changling (698-765), a Tang dynasty poet and official, and refers to a person who nurtures a pure heart. The text of the poem may be translated as follows:
'The spring rain gutted the river as dusk fell in the region of Wu
When it clears up at dawn I will see you off to the isolated mountains of Chu
If friends and relatives in Luoyang ask about me,
[Tell them] my heart is like a piece of ice kept in a jade pot'