WANG XISAN, CRYSTAL W/SNOWY WINTER LANDSCAPE & DONKEY
Height: 64 mm
Crystal, ink and watercolors, of squared form with rounded shoulders, painted on the inside with a continuous snowy winter landscape of Huang Chenyen astride a donkey, followed by his attendant bearing a coolie-pole, approaching an inn nestled amid hills to which a groom is pulling his donkey; entitled 'Traveling in Snowy Mountains' and signed 'At the Yihu Zhai (One Bottle Studio), Made in the second month of summer, yiyou year' with one seal Ji (Hebei).
Crane Collection nos. 386 and 647.
Little, Stephen L. and Joseph B. Silver. The World in a Bottle: Chinese Inside-Painted Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Joseph Baruch Silver and Traditional Chinese Paintings, 1994, p. 17, no. A9.
Asian Art Studio
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, October 30, 2000, lot 692
Guo'an Collection, Inventory no. 243
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., 1974
Annual Convention ICSBS Toronto, October 2007
JICSBS, Summer 1984, p. 23, fig. 7.
This is another bottle in the Crane Collection painted by Wang Xisan which depicts a winter scene. It was painted in the same year, 1969, as the other Crane bottle No. 386, although produced a few months before that one. Prior to the Cultural Revolution, Wang exercised a preference for older bottles in material other than glass, such as crystal, agate and amber. With the end of the Revolution, these materials slowly became available again and the series of bottles with winter scenes that he painted at this time succeed in part because of Wang's choice of material. Around the mid-1960's, Wang also began to use a brush rather than the more traditional bamboo pen. Bottles, such as this example, show the freedom that this gave him; producing a painting that rises above the mundane and commercial. Wang is able to give depth to the snowy landscape and the cloudy sky through his brushwork proving a contrast with the figures and the bare trees in the foreground. Wang painted a very similar scene the following year also in a crystal bottle, now in the collection of Joseph Silver. Published in his 1994 catalogue, Joey Silver states that the subject of Huang Chenyen in a winter landscape may symbolize the idea of going into a self-imposed exile rather than serving a government one did not approve of. Wang may have had no choice, but he was still able to reveal his feelings of isolation through his painting. In a personal letter to the owner of the Guo'an Collection (Ann Kreuger), Wang states that the Crane bottle was painted to express his feelings of loneliness and fear for personal safety in 1969.