The carved design on the side of the Seal exploits dark natural veins in the stone to represent a landscape. We see the tiny boat carrying the early eleventh-century poet and calligrapher Su Shi past the Red Cliff. Su Shi's prose-poem recording his trip is one of the most famous in classical Chinese literature, and his original writing was considered a masterpiece of Chinese calligraphy. On the bottom of the seal Qian Song, one of the most influential scholar seal-carvers of the Qing Dynasty, engraved the name of a studio for one of his associates, a man named Chunru, who would have impressed this seal in red seal paste on paintings and calligraphy in his studio. The Seal is both a remarkable example of miniature carving and physical testimony to the relationship between one scholar and another.
Tianhuang (heavenly yellow) stone
first half 19th century
3 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (9.5 x 3.2 x 3.2 cm) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
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Qian Song (Chinese, 1807-1860). Tianhuang Seal, first half 19th century. Tianhuang (heavenly yellow) stone, 3 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (9.5 x 3.2 x 3.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 1996.122. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.122_side1_PS9.jpg)
side, 1996.122_side1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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A seal of rich reddish amber color, carved in the form of a mountain cliff, with Su Dong-po and his friend in a boat sailing beneath a waterfall, one side with a colophon. Seal inscription carved by Chien Song (1807-1860). Signed Shu Kai. Artist from Hangchou, Chekiang province, and is a specialist in seal carving as well as a calligrapher and painter. His reputation for seal carving was second only to Ting Chin (1695-1765) and Huang I (1744-1802) the two greatest seal carvers of the Ch'ing Dynasty.
The subject of the carving is Su Dong-po's visit to the Red Cliff and the carver of the landscape scene is Ching chuan (who may also be known as Yang I, who was a calligrapher and seal carver of the Ch'ing Dynasty. This information was given by Er-lu Wu, Assistant to R.H. Ellsworth.
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