A SUPERB YELLOW RUSSET JADE CARVING OF AN EGRET, QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
A SUPERB YELLOW RUSSET JADE CARVING OF AN EGRET
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
well carved, recumbent with its head turned to the back grasping a lotus sprig in its beak, finely detailed with its three-taloned feet folded neatly under its body, the wings and tail feathers delicately defined with short incisions, with swirling waves on its left side accentuated with two leaping fish, the softly polished stone of an attractive greenish-yellow tone with areas of pale sugar-brown coloration
Length 2⅞ in., 7.3 cm
Overall in good condition with a small chip to the tip of the stem and a minute loss to one lotus petal. A few minute scattered nicks and a few short natural fissures.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
For more information on and additional videos for this lot, please contact Cindy.Qi@sothebys.com.
Nagatani, Inc., Chicago, 1st February 1946.
Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).
The present figure is remarkable for the fine quality of the yellow stone and the meticulously executed carving, which is an impressive display of the exceptional standard of jade craftsmanship during the height of the Qing dynasty. Apart from the present lot, a closely related yellow jade carving of an egret grasping a lotus sprig, attributed to the Qianlong period, is recorded in the Woolf Collection (see The Woolf Collection of Chinese Jade, London, 2013, pl. 105). Yellow jade was much treasured during the 18th century, particularly by the Qianlong Emperor, whose imperial jade collection surpassed that of any of his predecessors in quality. The Qianlong emperor's contribution to the improvement of jade crafting techniques and his connoisseurship of jades were notable. He insisted on examining every piece of jade in the court collection and recorded his opinion in the form of poems to be published or inscribed on the jades (Yang Boda, 'Jade: Emperor Ch'ien Lung's Collection in the Palace Museum, Peking', Arts of Asia, March-April 1992, p. 82.).
Water birds grasping a lotus flower was a popular subject for jade carvings during the 18th century. For related examples, see a white jade duck from the Mary and George Bloch Collection, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 23rd October 2005, lot 60; another sold in these rooms, 27th February 1981, lot 477; and a pair sold in our London rooms, 6th November 1973, lot 346. Carvings in yellow jade of this subject, however, are particularly rare; for a yellow jade example featuring a different subject from the same period, see a carving of a recumbent horse, gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York by Florence and Herbert Irving, sold in these rooms, 10th September 2019, lot 100.
The present bird, depicted with a long beak, a slender crown feather, and long legs with talons, can be identified as an egret. Together with the lotus flower, it conveys an auspicious symbolic meaning of wishing one to succeed entirely on every level of the civil service examination, as in the Chinese language, a single egret is homophonous with the phrase yilu (all the way), and the lotus plant is the pun for lianke (passing every level of the civil examination).
本品把件玉料上乘，雕工精細，展示清代玉匠臻藝，刻劃白鷺，與蓮花並置，諧音「一路連科」，祝願科舉高中。除本品外，另見一黃玉近例，雕白鷺銜蓮枝，斷代乾隆，伍夫收藏（見《伍夫收藏中國玉器展覽》，倫敦，2013年，圖版105）。十八世紀，黃玉深受珍重，尤受乾隆皇帝青睞，其御藏美玉冠絕歷代各朝。乾隆皇帝在位期間，玉雕工藝發展長足，乾隆帝本人鑑賞玉器心得獨到，堅持每件玉雕親自審視，並提詩讚美，或載於文獻，或刻於玉雕之上（楊伯達，〈Jade: Emperor Ch'ien Lung's Collection in the Palace Museum, Peking〉，《亞洲藝術》，1992年3至4月，頁82）。