Click the above image to zoom
Chinese porcelain cylindrical brush pot (bitong), Kangxi
Stock Number: 5328
Very fine and rare Chinese porcelain cylindrical brush pot (bitong) with slightly curved sides, painted around the exterior in vibrant tones in underglaze cobalt blue with two large, stylised Shou characters each containing two large cartouches containing calligraphic inscriptions of Su Dongpo’s poem “Ode to Red Cliffs” with seals one reading “Dragon West” and signed Yun Wan “Cloud Play”, c. 1700, Kangxi Reign, Qing dynasty, h. 14 cm, 5½ in. 1-22720
• John R Berwald Oriental Ceramics & Works of Art, London, 18 April 1995;
• The Marsh Collection, sold at Bonhams, London, 2022, under the title “Art for the Literati”.
• Brushpots, A Collector’s View, by S. Marsh 2020, pp. 146/147
• The Marsh Collection, sold at Bonhams, London, 2022, under the title “Art for the Literati”, lot 43.
Literature: Word, Image, and Deed in the life of Su Shi, by R. Egan, 1994, pp. 221/228.
Notes: When the Song dynasty litterateur Su Dongpo (1037-1101) was first sent to Huangzhou in exile for opposing reformist policies at court, he passed by the supposed site of the naval battle of the Red Cliffs (AD 208) and wrote the two poems on the Red Cliffs commemorating the valour and bravery of the historical heroes that fought in the battle long past, while also voicing his own sense of nostalgia, loss and receding into the pages of history. His poems have since entered the Chinese literature canon and are a continuously popular motif for artists and poets.
This bush pot has extracts from Su’s poems, which may be translated as:
1. Continuing journey from five hundred years ago, the scenery of old with water stretching to the horizon, tonight the moon lingers by the Eastern Mountain, as if there were the same autumn moon that shone on the battle. Yun Wan.””
2. “A visitor arrives at Red Cliff with freshly caught fish, yet no one brought wine from Huangzhou, our poetry contrasts the silence that fills the riverbank and the thousand mountains a lonely crane crosses the river and passes over our boat”.
• John R Berwald東方陶瓷及工藝品，1995年4月18日倫敦