John Christopherson (1921 - 1996) is known for his later career as an artist, which only began in 1950, when he met Jacob Epstein and started to visit West End Galleries in London. In 1959 he resigned from the Civil Service and became a full-time painter, known for small townscapes, exhibiting at the Leicester Galleries, the Marjorie Parr Gallery, Agnews and England & Co. His last exhibition was a retrospective held in 1995 at the Woodlands Art Gallery in Blackheath.

Christopherson was an avid letter writer, corresponding with a wide group of dealers and fellow-collectors who shared his interest in art and indeed in jade carvings. He visited the London auction rooms as well as visiting Portobello market regularly on Saturdays and was known to produce his most recent purchase, often a Chinese early jade carving. By 1994 his illness prevented him from visiting central London.


Lot 122. A pale green and russet jade carving of a recumbent ram, Six Dynasties-Song Dynasty, 5.7cm (2 1/4in) long. Estimate £2,000 - 3,000. Sold for £2,500 (€2,943). Photo: Bonhams.

Carved resting upon its tucked-in legs, the hind quarters slightly raised, the head with almond-shaped eyes looking forwards, with long ridged horns curling over the shoulders, the greyish-green stone with dark brown veining. 

Note: Figures of rams have a long history, appearing in the Han and Tang periods in bronze as lamps and in ceramic as tomb figures. The present piece echoes the still and powerful stone figures that line the Spirit Roads of Tang and Song tombs, yet is much more fluid in form and captures a sense of vitality in the fullness of its form. With the top of its head and back accentuated by the dark natural inclusions, these lines that gently run across the stone further enhance the delicate carving of the creature.

Two closely related examples were included in the exhibition 'Chinese Jade Animals', Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. nos 91 and 94; another in the Kirknorton collection is illustrated in Brian Morgan, 'Naturalism and Archaism: Chinese Jades from the Kirknorton Collection', London, 1991, pl. 38; and a fourth carving in the British Museum, London, is published in Jessica Rawson, 'Chinese Jades from the Neolithic to the Qing', London, 1995, pl. 26:11. See also one sold at Christie's, New York, 2nd December 1985, lot 48; and another sold at Christie's, London, 7th December 1984, lot 306.  

The ram is symbolic of peace, prosperity and filial piety. When carved in stone for Spirit Roads, rams represented incorruptibility and stood in lieu of figures of civil officials. It seems likely that jade rams, such as the present one, represented the roles of sheep in daily life as well as embodying their auspicious associations on Spirit Roads.


Lot 123. A mottled cream jade carving of a recumbent mythical beast, Yuan-Ming Dynasty, 5.4cm (2 1/8in) longEstimate £2,500 - 3,500. Sold for £3,500 (€4,121). Photo: Bonhams.

Smoothly carved with the legs tucked beneath the rotund body, a horn reaching down its back from the head, an aperture drilled through the shoulders, the stone of a very pale mottled cream tone with dark veining and light-brown striations. 


Lot 124. A pale green and russet jade carving of a luduan, Ming Dynasty, 6.2cm (2 1/2in) high. Estimate £1,500 - 2,000. Sold for £1,875 (€2,207). Photo: Bonhams.

The crouching mythical beast carved with its head turned backwards, with flames about its haunches, with a single curled horn, the stone of a pale celadon hue.


Lot 125. A pale green and russet jade carving of a seated luduan, Ming Dynasty, 6.2cm (2 1/2in) high (2). Estimate £1,200 - 1,800. Sold for £3,750 (€4,415). Photo: Bonhams.

The mythical beast modelled seated on its haunches, with a bushy tail and flames about the hind legs, the ferocious head with a single horn and a long mane, with a collar about the thick neck, wood stand.


Lot 126. A reddish brown jade carving of two dogs, Probably Ming Dynasty, 3.6cm (1 3/8) wide (2). Estimate £800 - 1,200. Sold for £1,000 (€1,177). Photo: Bonhams.

The two hounds modelled entwined and mutually holding a lingzhi spray in their jaws, the stone an unusual mottled red and brown hue, wood stand.


Lot 128. A group of jade carvings of animals, Qing Dynasty and later. Estimate £800 - 1,000. Sold for £875 (€1,030). Photo: Bonhams.

Comprising: A grey jade recumbent horse, wood stand; a pale green jade carving of the Three-Legged Toad; a pale green jade Song Dynasty-style carving of a recumbent hound, wood stand; and a white jade or other hardstone carving of a hare. The largest: 6.8cm (2 3/4in) long (6).


Lot 129. A white and stained russet jade Han-style scabbard slide, Probably Qing Dynasty, 8.2cm (3 1/4) long. Estimate £800 - 1,000. Sold for £875 (€1,030). Photo: Bonhams.

The rectangular slide carved in low relief with circular bosses, the terminal end with a taotie mask, the reverse with a typical square loop. 


Lot 130. Three jade archer's rings and a russet jade 'chilong' sword guard, Ming Dynasty and later. Estimate £1,000 - 1,200. Sold for £3,125 (€3,639). Photo: Bonhams.

All carved in the Han Dynasty style, one ring carved with a chilong in low relief, one with archaic characters and one plain; the sword slide with a writhing chilong in low relief, the stone of a chocolate brown hue. The slide: 7.5cm (3in) wide (4).


Lot 131. A group of archaistic jade carvings, Ming Dynasty. Estimate £2,000 - 3,000. Sold for £2,750 (€3,202). Photo: Bonhams.

Comprising: Two circular jade discs, bi, carved in low relief with bosses; a green and russet scabbard slide; a mottled grey jade 'chilong' oval pendant, wood stand; and a grey and russet jade ornament with a writhing chilong carved to the exterior. The scabbard slide: 10.3cm (4in) long (6).


Lot 135. A small pale green jade tripod incense burner, Ming Dynasty, 6.7cm (2 5/8in) diam. Estimate £2,000 - 3,000. Sold for £2,750 (€3,202). Photo: Bonhams.

The cylindrical vessel carved with ribs to imitate bamboo, with bands of incised keyfret at the mouth and foot, raised on a three ruyi head form feet, the stone of a pale celadon hue with russet inclusions.

Bonhams. ASIAN ART, 8 May 2017, 10:30 BST, LONDON, KNIGHTSBRIDGE