Lot 3309. A rare carved lotus pad wooden tray, signed Zhou Ziyan, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period, dated to 1758; 37 cm., 14 1/2 in. Estimate 100,000 — 120,000 HKDLot Sold 500,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

carved from a thin plane of wood in the form of a broad naturalistic lotus leaf, the interior simply incised with a lotus vein ground, organic tears and holes, curling at the edges, the underside realistically rendered with the stem stippled and coiled, inscribed with a four-character title lu xiang qing cui ('Fragant Dew') dated Qianlong wu yin chang-xia, corresponding to the summer of 1758, signed Zhou Ziyan, the smooth varnished surface with a warm golden brown tone.

Provenance: An old private Japanese collection.

NoteZhou Ziyan (b. 1683-1773), also known as Zhao Hao, Jin Chan and Xue Jiao, was a prominent bamboo and wood carver of the Qing dynasty and native of Jiading, Jiangsu province. He was skilled in carving calligraphy and painting subjects, but especially renowned for his carvings of landscapes in the style of the Southern School. Ip Yee and Laurence C.S. Tam in Chinese Bamboo Carving, part II, Hong Kong, 1982, p. 58, note that 'he wielded his cutting tools so firmly and precisely that the strokes were compared to iron wires'. For examples of Zhao's works see a bamboo wrist-rest similarly carved with a stems of bamboo illustrated ibid., part I, pl. 98; and a bamboo brushpot carved with flowers in low relief, ibid., pl. 67

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