A rhinoceros horn seal. Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th century. photo courtesy Sotheby's
carved in the form of a recumbent xiezhi crouched on top of an oval-sectioned seal, its head raised and eyes gazing upwards, the body finely incised with stylized whorls depicting muscles, the seal face reading Huihao luozhi ru yunyan ('Paint brush landed on paper like misty cloud'); 4.3 cm., 1 3/4 in. Estimate 400,000—600,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,420,000 HKD
NOTE: The seal script is taken from a poem by the Tang dynasty poet Du Fu (712-770) titled Jiuzhong baxian ge (The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup) in which Du Fu writes about a group of Tang scholars who were famous for their love of wine.
Among rhinoceros horn carvings, scholarly seals are extremely rare. The present seal is notable for its fine carving and use of the material. Compare a related seal illustrated in Paul Moss, Documentary Chinese Art in the Scholar's Taste, London, 1983, pl. 139; another with a similar high base included in The Minor Arts of China, London, 1983, cat. no. 30; and a third seal from the collection of Mary and George Bloch, sold in these rooms, 23rd October 2005, lot 82.
Sotheby's. Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection - Scholarly Art, 08 Oct 10, Hong Kong www.sothebys.com