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760 Landscape with Figures

760)China, circa 1740-50
Height: 18,3 cm Width: 11,5 cm
Private Collection, Switzerland

754) China, circa 1740-50
Height: 7,0 cm Width: 14,1 cm
Private Collection, France
With Spink & Son , London, UK

Two nephrite jade landscape boulders with figures; both a light green, with rusty brown inclusions. The larger boulder, in fairly low relief, shows a scholar and his young attendant on a craggy ledge. The elder appears to be writing something on the stone with a brush, his assistant holding a bowl. There is some vegetation growing between the cracks in the rock-face. The natural fissures and inclusions in the stone are used to great effect in this composition.
The smaller carving, in much higher relief, is sculpted in the round as a mountain landscape. The front scene depicts a path with two pairs of figures, pine trees and sprays of lingzhi fungus amongst rocks. The reverse has craggy rocks, pine trees and two cranes – all symbolic of longevity.

These types of carvings, are in effect small three dimensional landscape paintings, which would have appealed to the poetic imagination of the Chinese scholar. Landscape boulders are comparable to the use of table rocks (gongshi) and miniature gardens (penjing), but often have a more specific literary or symbolic narrative due to the addition of figures and animals.

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