This onyx brush-holder, carved in high and low relief, is shaped like a tree trunk, while the handle appears as a small twisting stem. The use of animal and plant motifs was a constant in these sophisticated objects.
Nature was the main source of inspiration for pieces in jade, onyx, chalcedony, lapis lazuli and rock crystal, which all became enormously popular during the reign of the emperor Qianlong, a golden age for jade carving and other precious hardstones.
Although the intricate shapes and complexity of the decoration on such pieces reveal exceptional craftsmanship, they do rather detract from the natural beauty of the stone.
Grentien Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian at the sale of the Grentien Collection, Graat and Madoulé, December 1923 (lot 164).
H. 15 cm
Rona Goffen (ed.), Museums Discovered. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Woodbine Books, 1995, p. 198–9.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 78, cat. 56.
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