A rare and large brushpot ("bitong" in Chinese) in blue and white in the style called "pencilled" (literally "drawn in pencil"), representing in a rectangular cartouche two rich mandarins and a servant holding a fan who come respectfully meet a modest old hermit fishing in a scholarly rock garden by a stream. The other side, in a fan-shaped cartouche, represents a fisherman, again, in his boat, fishing peacefully under the sun, sheltered from the reeds. The base has an enamelled circle in its center. Reign of Kangxi (1662-1722), 18th century.
With a massive structure and belonging to the largest models of "bitong" of the 18th century, now much sought after, this important brushpot is typical of objects intended for the desk of the Chinese scholar, by its function (to contain brushes or rollers). ) and by his painting which evokes the current topos under the Qing Dynasty of the old hermit withdrawn from the Court and honors, occupying his retirement to fish, and to whom come to pay homage two mandarins, on the other hand dressed, them, with the sumptuous dresses of their duties as officials and accompanied by a young servant who shelters them from the blazing sun with a fan made of peacock feathers (a symbol of high rank, beauty and power in ancient China).
The rocks in the garden surrounding the four figures are at the water's edge, an ideal combination of yin (water) and yang (mountain) for the ancient Chinese, and they are painted in the "Master of the Rocks" style. borrowed from classical Chinese Ming painting.
The fisherman on the other side, in a fan-shaped cartouche which also recalls the famous art of litterati painting on a fan, is, with the old hermit who put down his fishing rod to receive his prestigious guests, an equally exemplary evocation. for the time, the middle of the Qing and the reign of Kangxi, of the bucolic, peaceful and carefree life proposed as the ultimate dream of the mandarin overwhelmed by his duties at Court.
On the one hand are therefore represented in a striking shortcut - transparent for the cultivated Chinese of the time - honors but also charges, servitudes and artifices, on the other, humility, even poverty, but also freedom and natural life. In the two cartouches, bamboo at the edge of the water connotes this fully literate universe of which they are the symbol.
It will be noted that a piece of dough has come off, probably due to an air bubble, from the interior wall and has come down to create an adhesion on the bottom of this bitong without however spoiling its powerful beauty.