erez__24_

An Yixing stoneware slip-decorated brushpot. Qianlong, signed Yang Jichu. Photo Bonhams

Of broad cylindrical form, the exterior of the heavily potted body intricately decorated in coloured slip with a continuous landscape scene, portraying a scholar seated in a pavilion reading a book, attended by a young acolyte in the next room, an additional scholar depicted standing at the gate of the compound, looking out at the lakeside setting, all framed against a wondrous mountainous setting, the reverse focused on windswept branches on rockwork in the midst of the lake, the base impressed with a three-character zhuanshu mark, the stoneware of an attractive mottled beige colour. 15.8cm high. Lot 548. Sold for HK$ 6.7 million 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesIt is rare to find an Yixing stoneware brushpot decorated in 'coloured slip' decoration, and the current example is one of the finest examples of its type. There is however a brushpot with closely related composition and similar Yang Jichu seal mark in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Purple Sandy Ware, Hong Kong, 2008, p.145, pl.115 (fig.1). 

For another Yang Jichu brushpot preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see ibid, p.145, pl.116 (fig.2). Compare also a Qianlong reign-marked Yang Jichu brushpot illustrated ibid, p.143, pl.113 (fig.3); and a closely related example bearing a Yang Jichu seal mark from the Mr and Mrs Gerard Hawthorn Collection, sold in these rooms, 28 November 2011, lot 208 (fig.4). See also a Yang Jichu brushpot illustrated in An Illustrated Collection of Fine Stonewares of Yangxian, Taipei, 1985, pl.40 (fig.5); and another example from the Robert H. Blumenfeld collection, sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 2012, lot 1246.

Yang Jichu is renowned for his outstanding craftsmanship on Yixing stoneware brushpots, particularly slip-decorated ones, created in the Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns (1723-95). Inchongkan jingxi xianzhi, or The Republished Jingxi Gazetteer, complied by Tang Zhongmian during the Qing dynasty, Yang Jichu was recorded as being active at the same time as the Yixing master Chen Hanwen, who is said to be the brother of Chen Mingyuan (Tang, 1793).

erez__26_

An Yixing stoneware 'chi dragon' brushwasher. Qing dynasty, signed Chen Ziqi. Photo Bonhams

The compressed globular body supported on a short foot, the steep sides gently curving to an inverted rim, applied with a long sinuous chi dragon depicted clambering up one side, the base impressed with a three-character zhuanshu mark, the stoneware of a rich purplish-red with attractive pale speckling. 9.8cm diam. Lot 549. Sold for HK$ 1.5 million 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

Notes: Chen Ziqi is recorded in traditional Yixing connoisseurship as having lived in the late Ming dynasty, Tianqi to Chongzhen period, with an unsubstantiated claim that he was the father of Chen Mingyuan. He is said to have specialised in teapots and scholar's objects, and his pottery vessels were marked by their skilful details and thin walls and skilful detail. According to the Yangxian mingtao lu (Record of Famous Pottery of Yangxian), a Qianlong period treatise dating to 1786, he was highly regarded as an imitator of Xu Youquan, a Wanli period potter. 

For an Yixing stoneware brushpot of gardenia tree-trunk form by Chen Ziqi with similar three-character zhuanshu mark in the K.S. Lo Collection, see Yixing Purple Clay Wares, Hong Kong, 2002, p.61, pl.10. 

Compare also a closely related example from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, illustrated by Gerald Tsang and Hugh Moss in Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 167, and sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 4 April 2012, lot 186.

erez__27_

An Yixing stoneware libation cup. Qing dynasty, signed Chen MingyuanPhoto Bonhams

Of archaistic jue form, the deep 'U'-shaped body supported on three splayed legs of triangular section, tapering towards the feet, the mouth with a channelled spout set opposite a peak in the rim, set with two finials with waisted caps incised with whorl circles, the main body decorated with a narrow frieze of a pair of stylised taotie masks set against a leiwen ground, applied with a vertical loop handle issuing from a bovine mask, the zhuanshu seals chen and mingyuan impressed under the handle, the stoneware of an attractive purplish-brown suffused with pale speckling. 17.4cm high. Lot 550. Sold for HK$ 860,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

Provenance 來源: Chen Keli (1908- after 1985)
陳克立 (1908-1985以後)

Illustrated 出版: L.Fulai, C.Keli, Yangxian shaqi jingpin tupu, An Illustrated Collection of Fine Stonewares of Yangxian, Taipei, 1985, pl.28
陳克立、賴福來:《陽羨砂器精品圖譜》,淑韾出版社,1985年,圖版28

Chen Mingyuan marked pottery vessels of archaistic bronze form rank amongst the greatest of his creations. The current example is potted in the form of a late Shang dynasty ritual wine vessel, jue. The potter has skifully impressed his own seals under the handle, where in antiquity, a pictogram would have been cast on the bronze surface.

A closely related Chen Mingyuan marked Yixing stoneware vessel of jue form, sold at Sotheby Parke Bernet, Hong Kong, 24 May 1978, lot 324, and subsequently in the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat collection, was later sold at China Guardian, November 2011, lot 2873. See also an Yixing stoneware jue lent by Alice Boney, illustrated by Terese Tse Bartholomew, I-Hsing Ware, China Institute in America, New York, 1977, p.53, pl.29. Compare also an Yixing stonewarejue in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Themes and Variations. The Zisha Pottery of Chen Mingyuan, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1997, p.104, pl.21.

Chen Keli was a major Yixing collector in the early 20th century. As he narrates in the introduction to his book, he collected Yixing wares alongside his uncle-in-law, Gong Xinzhao (1870-1949), a graduate of the Hanlin Academy. Chen purchased Yixing wares from Li, a dealer working at Rongbaozhai. Gong was surprised that in 50-60 years, he had only managed to acquire a small number of high quality pieces, but Chen built up a substantial collection in a matter of months. Li told Chen that the pieces he had purchased came from a family of salt merchants named Zhang, whose brothers had argued and had been forced to sell their Chen Mingyuan.

In the preface to the book, Fulai expounds how Chen Mingyuan, who wanted to become more acquainted with literati figures, travelled widely, and that at Xie Garden in Kaiyan, Jiangxi province, he met the owner Zhang Kunchong, who treated him as a distinguished guest. In return he gave a number of his pieces to the Zhang family. Fulai points out that due to this provenance, Chen Mingyuan marked pieces from the collection of Chen Keli are very reliable. Fulai also points out that it is fortunate that rubbings of all these major pieces were preserved and able to be published, because so many pieces were dispersed during the upheaval of the twentieth century.

erez__31_

An Yixing stoneware 'plum blossom' brushpot. Signed JunmeiPhoto Bonhams

Naturalistically potted of cylindrical section, formed as a section of prunus trunk, naturalistically potted and carved in high relief with gnarled branches and luxuriant flower buds and blossom, the natural grain and crevices in the trunk vividly depicted, the base incised with three-character kaishumark, the body of a rich greyish-brown colour with attractive light speckles. 10.8cm high. Lot 554. Sold for HK$ 740,000

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

Provenance來源: Chen Keli (1908- after 1985)
陳克立(1908-1985以後)

Illustrated出版:  L.Fulai, C.Keli, Yangxian shaqi jingpin tupu, An Illustrated Collection of Fine Stonewares of Yangxian, Taipei, 1985, pl.23
陳克立、賴福來:《陽羨砂器精品圖譜》,淑韾出版社,1985年,圖版23

Notes: It is rare to find an Yixing stoneware brushpot of such high naturalistic quality. There is however a closely related example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, attributed to the Qianlong period and illustrated in Yixing Zisha Wares in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2009, pg.190, pl.108. See also a brushpot by Yang Luqian from the Mr and Mrs Gerard Hawthorn Collection, sold in these rooms, 28 November 2011, lot 268, and illustrated on the cover

erez__34_

An Yixing stoneware 'leaf' brushrest. Qing dynasty, signed Chen Mingyuan. Photo Bonhams

Naturalistically modelled in the form of a cluster of tuberose leaves and stalks, skilfully modelled and carved with delicately delineated leaves depicted issuing forth flowers and buds, the underside of one of the stems impressed with a three-character zhuanshu mark, the clay of an attractive purple-grey suffused with sandy gold specks. 13.8cm long. Lot 557. Sold for HK$ 740,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesFor a closely related Chen Mingyuan marked brushrest in the Shanghai Museum, see Themes and Variations. The Zisha Pottery of Chen Mingyuan, Hong Kong, 1997, p.22, pl.32 (fig.1).

erez__35_

Two Yixing stoneware flowerpots. Qing dynasty, incised by Qing Jiang. Photo Bonhams

Both of broad cylindrical form, the thick sides carved in relief with bamboo and incised with lengthy inscription, the centre of the base with circular aperture draining hole, the stoneware of a mottled beige-brown. 17cm diam. (2). Lot 558Sold for HK$ 596,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesThe inscription incised on one flowerpot can be translated as 'painted by the resident of Banqiao, Zheng Xie, a day before the lantern festival in the seventh year of Qianlong', whilst the other pot is incised with an apocryphal mark of banqiao and a signature of qingjiang. The incised motifs of bamboo and orchid were probably after the style of Zheng Xie (1693-1765), a native of Jiangsu and renowned painter who resumed an official career as 'official calligrapher and painter' for the Qianlong emperor. 

erez__29_

An Yixing stoneware waterpot and cover. Signed YouquanPhoto Bonhams

Of archaistic zun form, the vessel finely potted as a stylised buffalo, its sumptuous swollen body comprising the vessel, supported on four tapering legs, the naturalistically potted face with a circular aperture in the mouth, comprising the dropper, depicted with stylised tail, set with a large angular loop handle above the well fitted cover with small loop handle, the underside incised with a two-character kaishu mark, the stoneware of a rich mottled purple brown with pale flecks. 11.6cm high. Lot 552. Sold for HK$ 560,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesThis appears to be the Youquan signed waterpot from the collection of Chen Keli, illustrated by L.Fulai, C.Keli, Yangxian shaqi jingpin tupu, An Illustrated Collection of Fine Stonewares of Yangxian, Taipei, 1985, pl.8 (fig.1). However, due to the indistinct photography in the catalogue, it is difficult to make a positive attribution.

Xu Shiheng, whose designation is Youquan was active during the Wanli period, andhad been taught by Shi Dabin. The Ming dynasty connoisseur Zhou Gaoqi once recorded inCollections of Yangxian Teapots - Master works, that Shiheng's father invited Shi Dabin to his house as he was a great admirer of his works. When Shi Dabin was challenged and forced to use a lump of clay to make a cow from it, regardless of Shi's hesitation, Shiheng took the clay from him and turned the clay into a cow with one leg bent on the ground. This amazed Shi Dabin, who subsequently became his apprentice. The Qing dynasty scholar Wu Meiding also highly praised Shiheng's art works in the Tangxian minghu fu, or Treaties of Yangxian Teapots. For another Yixing stoneware seal paste box of mythical animal shape with the signature of Xu Youquan, see Yixing Purple Clay Wares - The K.S.Lo Collection, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, p.60, pl.9.

erez__25_

An Yixing stoneware water vessel. Qing dynasty, signed Chen MingyuanPhoto Bonhams

Of globular form supported on a short steeply rounded foot, the sloping sides rising to a flared neck, intricately moulded with a band of archaistic leiwen scroll and pendant blades, the centre of the base incised with a two-character kaishumark, the clay of an attractive olive-brown colour. 7.4cm diam. Lot 547. Sold for HK$ 500,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

ProvenanceTan Jing (late Qing dynasty / early Republican period), by repute
Du Yuesheng (1888-1951), and thence by descent, by repute
I-Hsing Wares: Property from a Private Collection, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Hong Kong, 24 May 1978, lot 347

erez__28_

An Yixing stoneware water vessel. Qing dynasty, signed Chen MingyuanPhoto Bonhams

Of archaistic gui form, the compressed globular body supported on a raised splayed foot, applied with a pair of ring handles issuing from ferocious monster masks, the main body applied with four horizontal raised bands, the base incised with two-character kaishu mark, the stoneware of an attractive purple-brown with attractive light flecks. 12.1cm wide. Lot 551. Sold for HK$ 500,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

Notes; For a closely related Chen Mingyuan-marked vessel of guiform, see the example illustrated by Terese Tse Bartholomer,I-Hsing Ware, China Institute in America, p.52, pl.28 (fig.1). This vessel, lent by Alice Boney, differs from the current example, impressed with a three-character zhuanshu seal within a square.

erez__30_

An Yixing stoneware vessel. Signed Chen ZhongmeiPhoto Bonhams

Of archaistic gu form, the bulbous body supported on a slightly spreading foot, gently rising at the neck and splaying out to a trumpet mouth, the base incised with a two-characterkaishu mark, the stoneware of a beige brown with extensive pale speckles..12.8cm high. Lot 553. Sold for HK$ 500,000

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesThe K.S. Lo Collection catalogue K.S. Lo Collection in the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong, 1984, p.24, introduces Chen Zhongmei, with a translation of an excerpt from the 17th century Yangxian ming huzi ('Tradition of Yangxian Teapots') by Zhou Bogao:

"Chen Zhongmei, a native of Wuyuan, began working as a potter in Jingdezhen. As there were too many potters, it was not easy to establish a successful business. Therefore, he left Jingdezhen and came (to Yangxian). He had great artistry in mixing fine pottery clay and he made superb copies and adaptations to archaistics shapes". The majority of his recorded works are vessels drawing on archaic bronze shapes and characteristics, using clay to imitate bronze. An example of his work is illustrated by L. Fulai and C. Keli,Yangxian shaqi jingpin tupu ('An Illustrated Collection of fine stonewares of Yangxian'), Taipei, 1985, pl.10.

For an example sold at auction, see an Yixing stoneware model of a tapir, impressed with similar Chen Zhongmei four-character zhuanshu seal, formerly in the Dr Ip Yee Collection and latterly the collection of Robert H. Blumenfeld, sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 2012, lot 1251. 

erez__33_

An Yixing stoneware vessel and cover. Qing dynasty, signed Chen Mingyuan Photo Bonhams

Of archaistic guang form, the gently swollen body supported on a splayed foot, applied with a loop handle issuing from ataotie mask and suspending a stylised scrollwork hook, gently curving at the rim and supporting a cover skilfully modelled as a ferocious beast with flared nostrils and coiling horns, the centre of the base impressed with a four-character zhuanshumark within a square, the stoneware of an even beige colour with attractive black speckling. 12.8cm high. Lot 556. Sold for HK$ 350,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

Provenance來源: Chen Keli (1908- after 1985)
陳克立(1908-1985以後)

Illustrated出版:  L.Fulai, C.Keli, Yangxian shaqi jingpin tupu, An Illustrated Collection of Fine Stonewares of Yangxian, Taipei, 1985, pl.31
陳克立、賴福來:《陽羨砂器精品圖譜》,淑韾出版社,1985年,圖版31

Notes: Chen Keli was a major Yixing collector in the early 20th century. As he narrates in the introduction to his book, he collected Yixing wares alongside his uncle-in-law, Gong Xinzhao (1870-1949), a graduate of the Hanlin Academy. Chen purchased Yixing wares from Li, a dealer working at Rongbaozhai. Gong was surprised that in 50-60 years, he had only managed to acquire a small number of high quality pieces, but Chen built up a substantial collection in a matter of months. Li told Chen that the pieces he had purchased came from a family of salt merchants named Zhang, whose brothers had argued and had been forced to sell their Chen Mingyuan.

In the preface to the book, Fulai expounds how Chen Mingyuan, who wanted to become more acquainted with literati figures, travelled widely, and that at Xie Garden in Kaiyan, Jiangxi province, he met the owner Zhang Kunchong, who treated him as a distinguished guest. In return he gave a number of his pieces to the Zhang family. Fulai points out that due to this provenance, Chen Mingyuan marked pieces from the collection of Chen Keli are very reliable. Fulai also points out that it is fortunate that rubbings of all these major pieces were preserved and able to be published, because so many pieces were dispersed during the upheaval of the twentieth century.

erez__32_

An Yixing stoneware 'shell' waterpot. Republican period, signed Pei ShiminPhoto Bonhams

The naturalistically potted vessel finely modelled in the form of a large shell, a snail depicted sliding up one side, the underside impressed with a two-character zhuanshu mark, the stoneware of the exterior and snail's shell of a rich brown with incised texture, the interior and snail's foot plain. 12.8cm long. Lot 555. Sold for HK$ 250,000 

Masterpieces of Yixing Stoneware from the Mr and Mrs Jimmy Sha Collection

NotesPei Shimin (1892-1979) was a famous Yixing potter who trained from a young age. Through Jiang Zuochen, he was introduced to Shanghai, where he worked for several antique shops, creating Yixing pots in the style of earlier examples. In 1955, he joined the Yixing Shushan Pottery Cooperative, where he designed Yixing stonewares. The forms of the vessels he created, both teapots and scholar's objects, were usually very special, which brought him fame. He was highly competent at restoring antique Yixing vessels, notable for restoring Ming vessels for the National Museum of History, and a Qing dynasty example in Nanjing Museum. His restoration work was said to be undetectable. That is why he was known as 'Chen Mingyuan number two'. 

For a prototype of the current waterpot, see a Chen Mingyuan marked example from the Mr and Mrs Gerard Hawthorn Collection, sold in these rooms, 28 November 2011, lot 214

Bonhams. 27 May 2012 4 p.m. Hong KongYixing stoneware and scholar's objects from private collections