CATALOGUE NUMBERS 0620 & 0621
PAIR OF FAMILLE VERTE RECTANGULAR TABLE SCREENS & STANDS
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Height: 10 ¼ inches
D & M Freedman, London, 2000
From the Song dynasty onwards, scholars pursued luxury objects to display in their studios. Although Ming dynasty critics decried excess as beyond the bounds of good taste, the new mercantile wealth of the seventeenth century happily ignored such warnings. In addition to the traditional ‘four treasures’, brushes, paper, ink and ink-stone, scholars collected functional objects such as seals, ink boxes, ruyi scepters, paperweights, water droppers, brush washers, brushpots, wrist rests and table screens. Each of the present pair of porcelain screens is painted with a single figure of a warrior on one side and a depiction of 'Precious Objects' on the reverse.
The warriors, in dynamic pose, might serve to spur the scholar to action. Their stoicism, perseverance and loyalty are all traits to be emulated. Jonathan Hay writing on the increase of military subject matter in the early Qing observes, “Although some scholars have attributed those to Manchu imperial taste, in the context of the open market they could be interpreted as reflecting a Chinese fascination with Manchu military prowess, or alternatively, the wish that the Ming armies had performed more successfully in their defense of the country.” “The Diachronics of Early Qing Visual and Material Culture”, in The Qing Formation in World Historical Time, ed. Lynn A. Struve, Cambridge, 2004, Chapter 7, p. 319. The reverse side depicting antiquities would underscore the importance of reverence for the past and the inspiration and lessons to be found there.
A similar pair from the Hodroff Collection was sold at Christie’s New York, 24th January 2007, lot 23.
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. 47. [exhibition catalog].