Lot 3219. A reticulated spinach jade brushpot, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 13.2 cm., 5 1/4 inEstimate 3,000,000 — 4,000,000 HKDLot Sold 3,620,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

of cylindrical form, meticulously carved with Shoulao, the God of Longevity, holding a large peach in his hands, accompanied by an attendant and a deer in a garden with craggy rocks and leafy trees, followed by three figures carrying coral, lantern and millet sprig in front of a pavilion, the reverse further carved with two figures, the lustrous stone of a deep green tone with natural inclusions, fitted wood stand.

NoteBrushpots such as the present example depict figures in dramatic stylised rocky setting, far removed from the sophisticated order of the Imperial court and exemplifying the ideal of the scholar who has withdrawn from the mundane. Like many literati objects a utilitarian piece becomes, by virtue of its craftsmanship and decoration together with the use of unusual or rare materials, a vehicle for contemplation and a touchstone for the scholar's imagination.

Compare related spinach-green jade brushpots and carved with figures in a vast landscape setting, such as one of these dimensions, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Chinese Jades throughout the Ages – Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades, vol. 12, Hong Kong, 1997, pl. 86; a slightly larger example in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in the exhibition The Refined Taste of the Emperor: Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Ch'ing Court, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1997, cat. no. 58; and a third example from the Alan and Simone Hartman collection, published in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman Collection, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 113, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th November 2007, lot 1521.

A larger tripod brushpot in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pl. 29:18, where Rawson notes that the artisan of the British Museum piece used carving techniques to produce the effects of painting rather than making decorative use of the peculiarities of the stone, as was done in earlier works; a technique that appears to be consistent with the present brushpot.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 april 2011