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KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)


Height: 6 ½ inches


  • Christie’s London, 6th June 2000, lot 357

  • A & J Speelman, London, 2001



Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 

The Colors of Earth, Kangxi Era Porcelain

from the Stamen Collection, 2002, no. 13.



A continuous scene depicts a scholar as he leans

out from his study and gazes up at the moon. The moment of inspiration is echoed in the poetic inscription attributed to the Tang dynasty poet Wang Changling (698-756) renowned for his poems set in the far reaches of the empire. 

“Standing on the high tower under the moonlight, I listen to the pure sounds coming from the Southern Mountains. Yesterday, the shadow of Chang’e appeared, and the sound of her subtle laughter was audible” Signed Xin Yeqiao, with two seals - Wang and Zhu Shi Ju

The use of three dimensional surfaces to convey traditionally two dimensional formats reached new and innovative heights in the Kangxi period. Elaborate figural scenes appear in the Yuan dynasty and again in the Ming but not in conjunction with calligraphy and never with such immediate reference to scroll painting. The multi-layered contrivance of a scholar's scene painted in imitation of the layered greens and blues of a Tang dynasty palette and inscribed with a Tang dynasty poem on the theme of finding a muse in nature, all wrapped around a cylindrical vessel designed for the storage of brushes to create the aforementioned work, appealed intellectually and materially to luxury buyers of the early Qing.

Zhushi ju (Vermillion Rock Retreat) or Mushi ju (Bamboo and Rock Retreat) were favorite studio names of Qing scholars. These can be found on several porcelains of the period, some of them dated and ranging from 1690 to 1712. It is supposed that these were most likely also the names of private kilns; products included underglaze blue andwucai wares. There is a brushpot, with the same mark, dated to the year corresponding to 1709, in the Guimet Museum, from the Grandidier Collection illustrated in The World’s Great Collections, Oriental Ceramics, vol. 7, Tokyo, 1981, no. 36; another brushpot in the Shanghai Art Museum is illustrated in Kangxi Porcelain Wares from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1998, no. 111, pp. 166-167, and a flowerpot and stand with Mushi ju mark, part of the Salting bequest, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.



Text and images on this page appear courtesy of ​

Sotheby's New York and are excerpted from:

Sotheby's New York. Embracing Classic Chinese Culture: Kangxi Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection. March 14, 2014, p. 46. [exhibition catalog].

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