MING DYNASTY, 16-17TH CENTURY, SIGNED BY HUWENMING
The central medallion on the heavy circular bronze covered box depicts peach blossoms in gilt relief above a textured ground. The side of the box is inlaid with silver keyfret while a thick layer of gilt covers the mouth and shoulders of the box and cover. A gilt rectangular intaglio mark ‘Yunjian Hu Wenming’ is cast on its base.
Hu Wenming 胡文明was a prominent bronze craftsman active during the Wanli era (1573-1619) of the Ming dynasty. He was a native of Yunjian 雲間, another name for Songjiang 松江prefecture (now part of Shanghai). He is well-known for his finely made bronze censers in imitation of ancient vessels, especially yi 彝 (sacrificial wine vessels), ding 鼎 (tripod cooking vessels), zun 尊 (wine vessels), and you 卣(small mouth wine vessels). These fetched extraordinarily high prices during his own time and have been much prized ever since. Collectively, his work is referred to as ‘Hu Lu’ 胡爐 (Hu Censers). Unfortunately, he does not seem to have had disciples and so did not establish a tradition of craftsmanship associated with his name.
A Hu Wenming incense box of similar mark and motif is illustrated in Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, p. 240, Catalogue No. 231.
Edward T. Chow Collection
One Man’s Taste: Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion 14 October 1998– 15 January 1989, Collections Baur, Geneva
One Man’s Taste: Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion 14 October 1988– 15 January 1989, Collections Baur, Geneva, p. 32, Catalogue No. B.4.