QING DYNASTY (1644–1911)
HEIGHT (INCLUSIVE OF STAND): 68.8CM;
The resonant, medium-grey limestone is naturally shaped in the form of a three-peaked mountain landscape, resting above a six-footed hongmu stand. The rock is inscribed with the characters ‘Guoyun Lou zang shi’ 過雲樓藏石 “Rock Kept at the Passing Clouds Pavilion” on the left side of the rock and on its right ‘Jiyun feng ’ 霽雲峰 (‘Cloud Clearing Peak’) and ‘Yu Yue Ti’‘ 俞樾題 (‘Inscribed by Yu Yue’).
The Guoyun Lou 過雲樓 (‘Passing Clouds Pavilion’) is an old building that once housed a rich collection of paintings, calligraphic works and rare books (now mostly in the Shanghai and Nanjing museums). Located in Suzhou in the Yi yuan 怡園 (Felicity Garden), finished in the eleventh year of the Tongzhi era (1874) after seven years of construction, the exact date of the building is unknown, but it is likely that it dates from about the same time. However, a letter to his son from Gu Wenbin 顧文彬 (1810–1889), a prefecture magistrate and the owner of the Yi yuan from its beginning into the Guangxu (1875–1907) era, offers proof that by the Tongzhi era (1862–1874) it already housed a rich collection. Towards the end of the Qing, under its owner, the landscape painter Gu Linshi 顧麟士 (1865–1930), personal name (zi 字) Heyi 鶴逸, the Guoyun Lou housed more than a thousand masterpieces of calligraphy and painting, as well as many Song and Yuan book editions, manuscripts from all periods, and rare luxury editions of the Ming and Qing eras, as well as an extensive collection of rubbings. Fantastic stones were placed throughout the Yi yuan in and around buildings, including the Guoyun lou. A catalogue of the extensive holdings of the Guoyun lou was begun by Gu Wenbin, supplemented by Gu Linshi, and first published in 1882.
A native of Deqing 德清, Zhejiang, Yu Yue (1821–1907) became a juren 舉人 (elevated scholar) in 1841 and a jinshi 進士 (presented scholar/metropolitan graduate) in 1850, one of his examiners Zeng Guofan 曾國藩 (1811–1872). He first held positions in the Hanlin Academy and then served in various educational positions in Anhui and Henan, but was dismissed from office in 1857 and lived for a few years in retirement in Suzhou. When the Taiping Rebellion reached Suzhou (1860–1862), Yu took his family first to his native place, Deqing, then Shanghai, and finally to Tianjin, but when the Taipings were vanquished and Suzhou liberated in 1864, Yu returned south the next year and became director of the Ziyang Academy 紫陽書院 in Suzhou. Three years later he moved to the West Lake, Hangzhou, to become director of the Gujing qingshe 詁經精舍, which had been founded in 1801 by Ruan Yuan 阮元 (1764–1849) for the study of the Confucian classics and literature and where Yu subsequently taught more than thirty years. He became one of the most accomplished and well-known scholars of his day, the author of dozens of works on the Confucian classics and other philosophers as well as several local histories. He was also a famous calligrapher. His complete literary works were published as the Chunzai tang quanshu 春在唐全書 (Complete Works from the Hall of Spring Present).
The Guoyun Lou 過雲樓 (‘Passing Clouds Pavilion’), Suzhou Collection of Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821–1907)