Qing Dynasty (清朝), Circa Eighteenth Century
Height: 6 inches (15.24 cm)
Celadon Green Nephrite Jade
Objects integral to the arts of painting, calligraphy and writing were highly valued by scholars for their aesthetic qualities. These literati took pride in their intellectual and artistic activities as well as the tools used to complete them. Thus, these objects were not strictly functional, but were meant to be consistent with the owner’s philosophy of life and reflect his refined taste and cultivation. The naturalistic motif of this brush holder was intended to evoke an idealized environment, thereby transporting the scholar to another realm where he would be in complete harmony with nature. It was believed that jade objects, such as this, created an atmosphere in the scholar’s studio conducive to enlightenment – the ultimate goal of Chinese scholars.
This striking brush holder is shaped in the form of a pine tree and is decorated with several motifs of longevity. Twisted around the gnarled tree trunk are pine branches and plum blossoms. Near the base of the vessel are a small sprig of bamboo as well as a crane. All of the decorative elements of the container: the pine, plum, bamboo, and crane, combine to associate this piece with longevity. The material of this piece is a fine celadon green color with some black mottling throughout. In our opinion, the material, subject matter and workmanship suggest an eighteenth century date for this beautiful work of art.
Reference Number: 3625
Formerly in the Gump Family Collection, San Francisco.
Brush holders with a similar pine motif are illustrated in Zhongguo meishu fenlei quanji: Zhongguo yuqi quanji 6, Qing [Chinese Art Series: Chinese Jades, vol. 6, Qing Dynasty]. Shijiazhuang: Hebei Art Publishing, 1991. Page 199, plates 283-284.
See a more stylized pine decoration on a brush holder in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum and published in Chinese Jades from Han to Ch’ing. James Watt. New York, Asia Society, 1980. Page 131, plate 108.
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