Lot 62. A pale celadon jade 'immortals and landscape' table screen and original gilt-bronze stand, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Estimate 800,000 — 1,200,000 HKDPhoto: Sotheby's.

the rectangular slab of pale celadon colour mottled with icy inclusions, one side worked with two immortals in loose flowing robes and an attendant in a rocky landscape set with a pavilion and detailed with running river streams, one immortal rendered holding a lingzhi stem, the other tending a deer, the attendant depicted tugging a branch of a tall peach tree in the background, all below lingzhi-shaped clouds bordering the upper edge, the reverse decorated in low relief with an overhanging prunus tree issuing from rugged cliffs, the gilt-bronze stand exquisitely cast and reticulated with stylised scrollwork as well as floral and foliate motifs; panel 24.7 cm, 9 5/8  in.; overall 34.4 cm, 13 1/2  in.

ProvenanceSotheby’s London, 12th March 1982, lot 29.

NotesScreens such as the present piece were seldom created before the Qianlong period due to the rarity of large flawless pieces of jade. Such screens were fashioned from carefully chosen highly-translucent stones, which would enhance the differing depths of the carved pictorial scene. The particular challenge presented to the carvers of jade table screens was to compose two different designs on each side that would not interfere with but rather enhance the other when light shone through. Thus the viewer could easily be transported into the tranquil and inviting landscapes.

The Qianlong Emperor advocated that jade mountains and carved panels should carry the spirit of paintings by famous past masters. It is recorded that a number of classical paintings from the Emperor's own collection were ordered to be reproduced in jade, such as the celebrated painting Travellers in the Mountains, by the eminent Five Dynasties painter Guan Tong (907-960). The sense of harmony and ethereality captured through the figures in the idyllic landscape is a good example of the type of carving the Qianlong Emperor envisioned.

A table screen carved with a similar landscape, in the De An Tang collection, was included in the exhibition Romance with Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 67; a pair was sold in these rooms, 25th November 1981, lot 417; another pair, from the collection of R. Matthews, was sold in our London rooms, 7th November 1961, lot 354; and a third example was sold in our London rooms, 7th December 1993, lot 113. See also three jade screens carved with a similar motif, also inscribed with imperial poems, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition The Refined Taste of the Emperor. Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Ch’ing Court, Taipei, 1997, cat. nos. 62, 65 and 67.

Sotheby's. Roger Keverne - 50 Years in the Trade, Hong Kong, 05 oct. 2016, 10:00 AM