By Appointment Only *Please click on contact for further information

Scholar's Implements




The brushpot is carved from a hollowed block of jade with tapered straight sides and rests on shallow bracketed feet. The brushpot is carved in low relief with four panels, each depicting a floral scene within a thin raised border. The four panels depict the so-called ‘four gentlemen’, which comprise prunus, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum and stand for dignity, quietude, fortitude and simplicity. Each floral motif Is paired with an accompanying inscription.

Side 1

御製 By His Majesty
鞠有黄華載禮經 It is but recorded in the Classic of Rites that Chrysanthemums have a golden splendour,
何來紅紫幻多形 So whence came these reds and purples in so many magically changing shapes?
茸儒充隱紛無數 Though these soft and pliant would-be recluses exist in numbers beyond count,
人有如斯物可聽 If there were but one man like them, he’d be someone worth heeding!

The title of the poem is Mantiju 漫題菊 (Impromptu Verse on Chrysanthemums) in Yuzhi shiji 御製 詩集 (His Majesty’s Poetry Collection), Second Collection 二集 (Wenyuange Siku quanshu 文淵閣四 庫全書ed.), 44:10a.

御製 By His Majesty
春蘭今日識其真 In the spring orchid I recognize today that its authentic self
一種王香㝡可親 Is expressed in a kind of kingly fragrance giving utter delight.
底事閒情遙望古 In too leisurely a mood to engage in any task I turn a far distant gaze to antiquity—
朅思澤畔品題人 How is it I chance to think of those who at the edge of a marsh appraised things so?

The title of the poem is Chunlan 春蘭 (Spring Epidendrum Orchids) published in Yuzhi shiji 御製詩 集 (His Majesty’s Poetry Collection), Second Collection 二集 (Wenyuange Siku quanshu 文淵閣四庫 全書ed.), 8:21a.


Side 2

The last line alludes to Qu Yuan 屈原and his encounter with a fisherman in the Yufu 漁夫 (The Fisherman), one of the Chuci 楚辭 (Songs of Chu), in which the two engage in a dialogue in which Qu Yuan laments the miserable way the world has treated him and which the fisherman concludes with the famous line “When the Canglang’s waters are clear, I can wash my hat strings in them; when the waters of the Canglang are muddy, I can wash my feet in them.”

御製 By His Majesty
風裏試披清奏籟 In wind they try swaying so to play a clear piping sound,
月中乍展宛飛龍 And when bathed in moonlight suddenly unfurl to become soaring dragons.
一梢已占琅玕性 Once each tip has taken on the nature of white gemstone,
千畝如看煙雨重 A thousand acres of them look like layers of mist and rain.

The title of the poem is Ti Ni Zan hua zhu 題倪瓚畫竹 (Inscribed on A Painting of Bamboos by Ni Zan) in Yuzhi shiji 御製詩集 (His Majesty’s Poetry Collection), Second Collection 二集 (Wenyuange Siku quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書ed.), 7:4b-5a. Ni Zan 倪瓚 (1301-1374) was one of the four great masters of the Yuan dynasty.

御製 By His Majesty
鐵榦氷花蓓蕾紅 Though ice blossoms lie on iron stems and dot them with buds of red,
墨勾不襲補之翁 The inky hooks follow not the style of Old Man Buzhi.
為文悟得同歸理 In writing I realize that in composition it’s just the same,
喜語難工苦易工 Where happy tidings mean hard work but distress is easy to do.

The title of the poem is Mei 梅 (Prunus) in Yuzhi shiji 御製詩集 (His Majesty’s Poetry Collection), Second Collection 二集 (Wenyuange Siku quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書ed.), 40:13b. Yang Wujiu 楊無 咎 (1097-1171) personal name (zi 字) Buzhi 补之, but some sources give Buzhi as Yang’s given name (ming 名); Yang was a renowned Southern Song era prunus painter.

The jade is of a mottled opaque grey colour with black and white speckled inclusions.


Collection of Gerard Arnhold (1918-2010)
Spink & Son Ltd., London

清乾隆 灰白玉題御製詩四君子四方筆筒