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A Yellow Soapstone Boulder

Qing Dynasty, Dated Qianlong Bingwu Year (Corresponding to 1786)

Length: 14.5cm

The soapstone boulder is carved in the shape of a rocky mountainous landscape. The front view illustrates a scholars’ gathering at a clearing above a ravine which trickles down to the wooden base. The soapstone is of warm mustard colour.

A seal inscription on a rock below a tree grove reads 聘 Pin [given name 名 of Luo Pin]. A seal carved below a stream reads 臣聘 “His Majesty’s Subject Pin”.

An inscribed 乾隆丙午喜道人作 “Made by the Happy Man of the Dao in the bingwu year of the Qianlong era” [1786] is carved against a rocky cliff on the reverse side of the boulder. 喜道人 “Happy Man of the Dao” is one of the sobriquets of Luo Pin; see Contag and Wang, Seals of Chinese Painters and Collectors of the Ming and Ch’ing Periods, p. 496, number 27.

The bottom inscription reads 擬宋人筆意 “In Emulation of the Artistic Style of the Song Painters” with a seal signature Dunfu 遯夫.

Luo Pin 羅聘 (1733-1799), personal name Dunfu 遯夫, was the youngest of the “Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou”, and began his career as a painting disciple of Jin Nong 金農 (1687-1763). Luo, who made a living throughout life by selling his paintings, was also an accomplished seal carver and the author of Guang yinren zhuan 廣印人傳 (An Extension to Biographies of Seal Carvers).

Tom Bennett Collection, Inventory No. 92A

清乾隆 黄壽山石雕宋人畫意山子