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Tianhuang Seal

Qian Song

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This seal is one of the great treasures of the Brooklyn Museum’s Chinese collection. It is carved in the form of a mountain cliff; the seal-carver exploited the dark natural veins in the stone to create the landscape. Beneath the waterfall is a tiny boat carrying the early-eleventh-century poet Su Shi past the Red Cliff. Su Shi’s prose poem recording his trip is famous in classical Chinese literature. On the bottom of the seal, Qian Song (1807–1860), 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 the bottom of the seal in red seal-paste on works of painting and calligraphy in his studio.
MEDIUM Tianhuang (heavenly yellow) stone
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES first half 19th century
    DYNASTY Qing Dynasty
    PERIOD 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)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
    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
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    CAPTION 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)
    IMAGE side, 1996.122_side1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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