A Fine “Lion” Tian Huang Stone Seal by QI Baishi

6 months ago

Lot No. :HRCS-TH-180607
Artist: QI Baishi (1*) (1864 - 1957)
Feature:A stone seal, Tianhuang (2*) stone.
Weight:2959.9 g
Source:Private collection
1* QI Baishi was an influential Chinese painter, noted for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works. The subjects of his paintings include almost everything, commonly animals, scenery, figures, toys, vegetables, and so on. He theorized that "paintings must be something between likeness and unlikeness, much like today's vulgarians, but not like to cheat popular people". In his later years, many of his works depict mice, shrimp or birds. He was also good at seal carving and called himself "the rich man of three hundred stone seals". In 1953 he was elected president of the China Artists Association. He died in Beijing in 1957. His painting, "Eagle Standing on Pine Tree" was sold for $65.5 million in 2011, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction.
2* "Tianhuang" is the name of a kind of stone regarded as the most valuable of all stone sculpture materials in China. For this reason there are suggestions that tianhuang be designated as the "king of stones" of China. In bygone days one ounce of tianhuang was worth one ounce of gold; today it has become even more precious. In autumn 1996, the Beijing Hanhai Company put a mid-Qing 460-gram tianhuang seal carved with a dragon-shaped top for auction at an offering price of 300,000 - 50,000 yuan, but the deal was clinched at a whopping 1.4 million yuan, an all-time high worldwide concerning the tianhuan stone.
Tianhuang is produced in the mountains by the Shoushan Stream in the northern suburbs of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province. In remote antiquity, cracked stone fell off the mountain and settled in a layer of sand that lay below paddy fields by the Shoushan Stream, and was gradually turned into a kind of sedimental sandy ore that is called tianhuang (which literally means "field and yellow") because of its yellowish colour and because it was mined from underneath paddy fields. Mixed with tianhuang are also stones red, white, black and grey in colour, which are consequently known as hongtian, baitian, heitian and huitian. After many centuries of constant mining, these stones are virtually in non-existence. With a crystal and moist texture, tianhuang is regarded as the best material available for the carving of seals, a Chinese obsession.


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