Lot 94. A greenish-white jade 'Luohan and grotto' group, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 8 5/8 in. (22 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 60,000 - GBP 80,000. Price realised GBP 728,750© Christie's Images Ltd 2018. 

The boulder is finely carved to one side with a luohan holding a ruyi sceptre seated within a rocky grotto, surrounded by wutong trees, attended by a boy to his side holding a peach. The reverse is intricately carved with branches of wutong and pine trees amongst further rocks. The stone is of a very pale even tone with a few minor mottled inclusions.

ProvenanceAcquired in Asia in the early 20th century.

NoteA slightly smaller inscribed jade 'luohan and grotto' group (12.8 cm. high) from the Qianlong period in the British Museum, ref 1930.12 -17.15, is illustrated by Jessica Rawson in Chinese Jade, London, 1995, p 410, fig 1. In this book she discusses the origins and significance of this group of 'luohan and grotto' jade carvings. She writes that it is likely that sets of sixteen or eighteen luohan were made and that the subject's popularity during this period may have been boosted by a woodblock print of a jade carving of a luohan amongst rocks from the Gu yu tu pu, attributed to the Southern Song period, but 18th century, and illustrated in Chinese Jade, Fig 2, p 411. 


Inscribed carving of a 'luohan' and a boy amid rocks, Qing dynasty, 18th century, white jade. Height: 12.8 cm. Bequeathed by James Hilton, 1930,1217.15. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Compare with a slightly smaller Qianlong period pale celadon jade 'luohan and grotto' group (16.8 cm high) sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2009, lot 1971.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, London, 15 May 2018 - SALE 15487