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Tianhuang Seal

Qian Song

Asian Art

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.

MEDIUM Tianhuang (heavenly yellow) stone
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES first half of the 19th century
    DYNASTY Qing Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (9.5 x 3.2 x 3.2 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1996.122
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Qian Song (Chinese, 1807-1860). Tianhuang Seal, first half of the 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
    IMAGE side, 1996.122_side1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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. Condition: Excellent
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (92%)
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