Introduction by Neil K. Davey,
Senior Director Japanese Department,
THE COHEN COLLECTION
OF JAPANESE ART
Neil K. Davey
The collection of Japanese miniature art illustrated and
described on this website is highly interesting on several fronts.
John Cohen and his wife Trudy are second generation collectors. John's
father George A. Cohen formed the original collection of netsuke and inro,
starting in the 1940s and published the collection in his book, In Search
of Netsuke, in 1974. His son John was always fascinated by the various art
forms that formed the collection and continued, though expanding outwards
from the netsuke and inro, to include lacquer boxes, jade pendants and
snuff bottles, which form the Chinese section of this disc. A number of
the pieces shown here were illustrated in George Cohen's book.
One finds very few publications in these specialised days that combine
Chinese and Japanese works of art. All of the small pieces within the
collection are highly personal whether worn, handled, or made purely for
use. The quality of work, subject to such very close inspection, rather
than for display had, of necessity, to be the finest possible.
The Japanese collection divides automatically into two parts. The first of
these encompasses the netsuke collection, featuring 57 examples, covering
most of the major schools of carving and types. There are fine examples
from Kyoto, Osaka, Edo, Nagoya, Gifu and Hakata, as well as unsigned and
unattributable pieces from the early 18th to the late 19th century. It is
difficult to pick out any one piece from the collection that stands out
above the rest, but my own eyes were immediately struck by the ivory study
of a cockerel and hen in a winnowing basket or corn scoop, by Otoman of
Hakata (N7). His work is very rare and this appears to be the only
recorded example of such a subject by him. The Kyoto artists, both of the
18th and 19th centuries are well represented by several examples,
including the study of a reclining boar on Autumn leaves (N11), the wood
study of a tiger (N14) the ivory goat by Tomotada,
(N23) and the fine
study of a bullock or ox, by Okakoto (N56).
The work of artists from the Asakusa district of Edo (now Tokyo) have
always interested me and I was delighted to see the two wonderful examples
by Ishikawa Rensai, the stag-antler model of a frog on a mushroom (N42)
and the somewhat similar study of a rat on a peach (N44).
The second section is devoted to inro and small lacquer boxes. Here, the
time span is somewhat shorter, most having been made during the latter
part of the 18th and the 19th centuries. Among these, one might select (L1), an unusual tan-ground lacquer inro, decorated with rats stealing
eggs by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891). Other master lacquerers represented
include Yamada Jokasai (L3,
L26), Yamada Toyoyoshi
(L7), various generations of the artists called Shiomi Masanari
L12, L32), Shunsho (L10), Hasegawa Shigeyoshi II
(L15), Koma Kyuhaku
Koma Koryu (L23), Koma Kansai
(L2), Hara Yoyusai
(L29) and one
extraordinary inro decorated in the elaborate Shibayama style by Nemoto (L6).
The collection also includes a fine selection of 26 small boxes, combs and
other lacquer items, as well as other items of Japanese decorative arts of
the Meiji period (1868-1912).
By some standards, the collection is not large. However, it does not need
to be; there is much to be said for quality, rather than quantity and the
present collection has the former in abundance.
Neil K. Davey
Introduction by Robert Hall,
Robert Hall Gallery,
The Cohen Snuff
It has been a great pleasure, long overdue, to review the
snuff bottle and pendant collection of Trudy and John Cohen. It is a
tribute to their artistic awareness that they have been able to assemble
so many works of art in these two areas, while maintaining the common
excellent workmanship, charming subject matter and, above all, that
elusive bit of 'magic' (for want of a better word) that turns an inanimate
object into something special and important.
I first met Trudy and John at the galleries of Hugh Moss, Ltd in Bruton
Street some 28 years ago. At the time, they struck me as a couple who were
devoted to each other and to the pursuit of these miniature works of art.
Since those heady days, they have built this large collection
together, and it has taken me some time to become acquainted - or
reacquainted - with all their acquisitions. I use the word 'acquisitions'
lightly, but anyone who has formed or is forming a collection knows that
it is often a laborious and sometimes lengthy process. One is not always
able to obtain or, indeed, to afford what one would like; setbacks are
Real collectors tend to forge ahead, taking risks and letting the chips
fall where they may, even if they are often left wondering whether they
were right to make decisions with such haste, but they have learned by
experience that an opportunity lost by hesitation can cause lasting
Trudy and John have been diligent in their pursuit of snuff bottles and
pendants, never letting the various dealers involved in their field forget
that should anything in their taste appear, a phone call to the Cohens was
absolutely de rigueur! The collection is notable for its supreme quality,
proof of the Cohens' dedication to seeking only those objects that are
artistically as well as technically brilliant. What is perhaps even more
remarkable, however, is that most of the works in the collection possess a
certain light-heartedness, a slight touch of whimsy, which faithfully
reflect the spontaneous good humour and cheerfulness of their owners,
whose lives are full of fun.
The Collector/Dealer Relationship
and the Generations!
The Cohen Pendant Collection
As a young man in the autumn of 1954 I joined the firm of S. Marchant and Son. I was the second
generation of a company founded by my father Samuel Sydney Marchant in 1925. This was a
remarkable time to begin one's career in the antique business mainly because of the learning
opportunities. Goods were plentiful with auctions held in London almost every day.
There were many small auctioneers who held specialist sales of Oriental art, but these are now
closed or have been taken over by larger firms. Two names that come readily to mind, both
subsequently taken over by Phillips, are Puttick and Simpson and Glendinning. It was the latter
that was my favourite. Perhaps it was the character of the man, Mr French, who ran the
company. He doubled as cataloguer and auctioneer, and general adviser to both buyer and seller.
The only thing he did not do was make the tea which was served during an interval half way
through the sale. Alas for progress, we lose some of the quality of life in our
search for the new,
but I digress.
Mr French's netsuke auctions were memorable. Can you imagine a handful of dealers and
collectors seated about a horseshoe-shaped table covered with green baize? One porter holding a
tray with netsuke would walk around the table and in turn show the tray to all the prospective
buyers. It gave them the opportunity for a second look and to remind them of the lot on which
they were bidding.
Occasionally my father would send me to the sale with the instruction to buy anything I liked at
two pounds a lot or if it had special charm, I could bid as high as four pounds! If Christies held a
sale of Japanese art, one lot would comprise of six or seven netsuke, tied together on a string.
This type of lot would often comprise of horses, rats or other zodiac animals, put together so that
a more substantial sum, perhaps up to three hundred pounds, could be obtained. Today these
pieces would individually be sold for thousands of pounds. It was at one of these auctions that I
could meet a client of ours, Mr George Cohen, an avid collector with impeccable taste and as a
bonus a charming gentleman.
He mentions a purchase from our gallery of an Okatomo netsuke, of a rabbit and young, in his
book 'In Search of Netsuke and Inro' on
page 14 Netsuke number 44. With the passing of time he
introduced me to a new collector, his son John, a man brought up with art, who shared the same
high standards as his father. Eventually he took over the collecting mantel of his father just as I
succeeded my father as a dealer, so that the tradition of each family passed to the second
generation. With this sense of responsibility in mind, in 1981 I recommended John should
consider forming a pendant collection.
This was a field with good opportunities, few if any specialist collectors and material was available.
One had to admit little had been written about the medium and therefore knowledge would be
limited. As far as I know, the only previous catalogued exhibitions had been held by Liberty's of
London in 1919 and 1925 entitled 'Jade Amulets'. However it offered an exciting prospect and
John must have felt equally enthusiastic because he purchased three pieces to begin the
collection (numbers P2,
P26). He also continued the search elsewhere and found a fine
group of ten from Robert Hall (numbers
Pendants should each have a silk attachment so that they can be suspended when worn. This is
achieved by the Chinese using silk cord tied with elaborate knots, often enhanced with seed
pearls, and a semi precious bead such as coral or agate. This presents a problem, because
many pendants do not have these elaborate silk attachments. Whether the silk has deteriorated
and fallen off, or never had them to begin with, is an unanswerable question.
I can suggest the earlier jade 18th Century, more tactile pieces never had them. My reasoning
being that men in China, even to this day attach them to their belt, and use them as fondling
pieces. They wear them also for good luck and long life, as jade is reputed to benefit the wearer in
those respects. I believe this is the group that should be referred to as amulets. Surely pendants
not tactile, very thin and delicate and usually of fine contrasting colours, are the ones meant to
have a silk attachment and in later times they have been worn by women around their neck as
Many Chinese people believe that green jadeite worn next to the skin will improve in
then mythology has always been a favourite subject in China. In any case this presented a
problem for John, as he needed to unify the collection. This would best be served by all the
pieces having beautiful attachments. He set about learning the art and as you can see has been
The seventy pendants have another great feature of unity, they all are of outstanding quality and
It is very satisfying for so many years to have had such a close and lasting relationship with the
Cohen family. I hope my son Stuart, the third generation of S Marchant and Son can continue the
tradition, to recommend pieces to Jason, the third generation of the Cohen family.
Richard P. Marchant
S. Marchant and Son
120 Kensington Church Street
London W8 4BH
Clare Chu (Clare Lawrence)
Research has revealed that very little has been written about Chinese
as literature is scarce and usually refers to archaic jade pieces. As such
The Cohen Collection is unique in its examples of Qing dynasty pendants in
materials such as jades, agates and other more unusual stones.
Exhibitions & research
The earliest known exhibitions occurred in 1919 and 1925 when Liberty's of
London held two expositions entitled simply 'Jade Amulets.' In these
exhibitions they referred to the pieces as ‘amulets’ although it is
apparent from the accompanying catalogues that they are ornamental pendants.
The catalogues state that ‘amulets’ (pendants) were worn hanging
from one shoulder; however this is not always so, although it is easy to see
where this idea has its foundations.
Liberty's also mention the official string of beads that a Chinese mandarin
wore as consisting of 108 beads, a central plaque, and a pendant. These are
worn with the plaque and the pendant hanging down the back on the outside of
the ceremonial robe. One therefore presumes that these pendants are
different to the ‘amulets’ (pendants) described in the
Museum sources suggest that men and women wore pendants in different ways.
It should be pointed out that this refers exclusively to persons of a higher
rank as the commoner would not be able to afford the luxury of a precious
Ladies of the imperial court attached pendants to the top button that
fastened their robe, on the right hand side near to the collarbone, whilst
men would hang them from their belts. It is also a possibility that some
tactile pendants or carvings may have been carried in small silk purses
hanging from the girdle, and used as fondling pieces.
One problem with research in this area is that pendants were not worn as
part of official court attire and therefore we cannot refer to the
documented regulations (2)
for clues to their usage, and other literary references tend to be
Schuyler Cammann (3)
when making an important distinction between toggles and pendants notes that
simple charm pendants were called ‘beiqing’, translated as ‘pendant
scriptures’ and that ornamental girdle pendants were called ‘beiyu’ (or
'yubei') meaning ‘hanging jades’. The latter had no particular
function unless as an indicator of auxiliary marks of rank, as their use was
restricted to higher Court officials.
One group of pendants which does appear to have a practical function is that
of ‘abstinence’ plaques such as those shown in the exhibition at Spink
& Son Ltd., London, entitled ‘Minor Arts Of China III'
where it is evident from the translation of the characters on the wood
plaque: ‘to be in a state of abstinence from food and drink’ that this
type of pendant would be worn on the robes of Court ladies during periods of
fasting, when sacrifices were offered to Imperial ancestors or deities.'
Pendants were attached to the button on the robe by a silken cord which
threads through a bead or disc and then through the pendant via what the
Chinese call a ‘string-eye’ (so-tzu yen) i.e. a hole or gap, an
integral projecting loop, or an attached ring.
It is unusual to find both
Chinese & Japanese antiques in a single publication. However, having
looked at this CD-ROM and talked to the owners one can clearly see the many
ways their appreciation of fine craftsmanship together with a love of
tactile objects, provides a valid link between these beautiful works of art.
The enjoyment of handling wonderful netsuke is very similar to the pleasures
we all know of handling a fine jade pendant or snuff bottle.
The Cohen's desire to complete sets such as a netsuke with its ojime and
inro, rather than just the netsuke, or just the inro, exposed them to the
subtleties of Japanese lacquer and led them into collecting works of art in
this media. With the Chinese works of art the same rule was applied; the
snuff bottles had to be complete with spoons and stoppers, and unusually
even the snuff! When collecting pendants, they added the cords and beads as
so often these were missing.
Tying the knot
The majority of the pendants in this collection arrived without any cord
and, aiming as always for perfection, the owner learnt to string the
pendants himself. The correct method of knotting and threading the silk
cord, brought over from Hong Kong, was discovered from a pendant with an
original cord which was carefully unknotted noting at each stage how to
reconstruct the complicated cord.
Most of the beads are of semi-precious stones and are acquired in all sorts
of unlikely places. The miniature seed pearls caused a problem as the holes
for threading are so tiny that even specialised beading needles are often
too large and consequently some of them have to be threaded using very fine
fuse wire, a tortuous lengthy process!
Collecting - how it all began
The Cohen's early collecting days began a world away from Oriental art, with
Satinwood furniture, of the Edwardian period, which they admired visually
for the liveliness of the wood and the movement apparent in the fine grains.
There is a limit to the amount of furniture one can collect and soon the
owners had moved away from larger pieces into the engaging world of Japanese
They began collecting and forming a collection of netsuke (with the help
and guidance of George Cohen) of a complete set of animals of the zodiac
in both ivory and wood; a task which in its turn soon led them to acquire a
small collection of inro which complemented the lacquer boxes and combs
already in their possession.
A remarkable and early example (L1)
by the artist Shibata Zeshin, (1807- 1891) illustrates very well the
standards set for themselves in their ideas of collecting i.e. that the inro
should be complete with its ojime and netsuke (or manju). The inro,
signed by Zeshin, shows a trio of rats stealing eggs; one dark rat is lying
on its back carefully holding the brown-pink egg, another rat drags him
along, by his tail, whilst the third peers into the bowl of eggs.
The move from Japanese lacquer occurred after one particularly frustrating
visit to Sotheby's in London where the owner left the sale disappointed by
his failure to buy any pieces. Miserably he made his way down the street,
and wandered into the Bond Street Arcade, where he chanced upon Estelle
Chapman's stand and a large number of Chinese snuff bottles. Not knowing
much about them, he allowed the sales assistant to show him their
collection, most of which did not really appeal to him.
Chinese Snuff Bottles
However, when he was shown a group of ‘silhouette agate’ bottles he felt
his pulse quicken and a sense of agitation crept upon him that all
collectors will recognise. Needless to say, he left with three chalcedony
bottles in his pocket captivated by the beauty within the stones and
secretly wondering what his wife would say to this diversion from Japanese
One of these snuff bottles (B25)
was a honey coloured agate, the darker skin on the front skillfully
depicting a corpulent figure, Pu Tai He Shang, the patron saint of tobacco
baring his immense belly to the world - an apt subject with which to start a
collection of Chinese snuff bottles!
Fortunately his wife was also fascinated by these miniature works of art, as
she had previously been a manageress of a jewellery shop in Zurich,
Switzerland and had been particularly interested in gemstones. Having
attended a two year course in this area as part of her jewellery
apprenticeship, she could fully appreciate the complexity of manufacture,
and the vision of the craftsmanship in achieving these images on snuff
At the beginning the Cohen's tended to acquire only silhouette and carved
agate snuff bottles, keeping track as always of provenance. One of their
is a very well hollowed bulbous honey coloured agate carved on the front
with a lively Manchu bannerman astride his galloping charger (1750-1860). It
is always a hard task choosing favourites and this is not made any easier by
the quality of the snuff bottles in this collection.
One arresting example (B56)
is a superbly hollowed three colour carved chalcedony snuff bottle, of
flattened ovoid form, with on one side a yellow duck resting on a large
white leaf against a dark brown background, the reverse carved with a yellow
phoenix on a white flowering prunus. (1750-1860). This bottle was exhibited
in 1974 by Hugh Moss Ltd. in his Chinese Snuff Bottle Exhibition in London.
Yet another snuff bottle stands out (B47),
a superbly hollowed honey coloured agate carved in relief with a tethered
horse, the reverse plain. (1750 - 1860). Although a common subject, the
quality of the carving is quite masterful. There are two factors that make
this bottle so special - one is the fluidity of the carving and the other is
the clever use of the brilliant translucent reddish colour for the horse.
Choice & variety
Throughout their collecting days the Cohen's set themselves very high
standards, judging pieces not only on an aesthetic level but with the
additional criteria of quality, material and subject matter. In addition to
this, with the exception of the inside-painted snuff bottles, each bottle
contains a different type of snuff, in all approximately eighty blends,
together with an attractive stopper and an old spoon. Each piece is
therefore highly individual and avoids repetition of popular subjects which
often recur throughout the Oriental art field.
This is well illustrated in the glass group of snuff bottles, an area where,
for example, it can be all too easy to acquire a large number of glass
overlay bottles carved with similar motifs. Two bottles stand out in this
group, both superbly carved and each with its own type of dragon, and
although dragons do appear elsewhere in the collection, there appears to be
an almost conscious attempt to avoid this common subject.
The first bottle (B71),
from the Ko collection, is a bulbous milk white glass snuff bottle carved on
both sides using a red overlay with a sinuous coiled chilong, the shoulders
with mythological animal mask ring handles. (1750-1850).
The second snuff bottle (B68)
is of ruby red glass and is of a bulbous elongated form carved with an
archaic dragon with petal lappets at the neck, the shoulders carved with
mock mask and ring handles (1700-1850). This bottle, acquired from Hugh Moss
Ltd. and illustrated on the back cover of the International Chinese Snuff
Bottle Society's Journal (December 1975) is superbly executed, with
the glass towards the centre of the body being very thin, giving it a crisp
delicate appearance. As well as considering subject matter, the Cohen’s
have a preference for materials in stone and glass, and a particular leaning
towards stone snuff bottles where the material is left to speak for itself.
One of their favourites (B2)
does just that - a miniature rounded agate snuff bottle (height 1"),
with the upper half consisting of a translucent beige crystalline formation
over a lower half of banded white, beige and dark brown lines. (1750-1860).
One of the highlights of my first visit to see this collection was another
uncarved agate snuff bottle (B5)
which I found totally irresistible. It is of flattened ovoid form and well
hollowed with the natural stone forming inclusions of pearl grey, white,
blue and green markings. l75O-186O (Ex. Ko Collection). The Cohen’s
referred to it as the ‘waterweed’ agate, however I found it reminiscent
of the Chinese subject of ‘pine trees in the snow’.
One of the important factors in choosing a bottle in a stone such as jade or
agate is whether or not the bottle has been well hollowed. The collection
has two favoured jade snuff bottles both of which can only be described as
‘eggshell thin’. The first is a superbly hollowed bulbous uncarved snuff
the flawless blue-grey stone left in all its glory; the second (B9)
is again superbly hollowed, a ‘celadon’ jade, of plain, tall,
rectangular shape, the stone of a powerful green colour. (1750-1850).
The collection of pendants began in a similar way to the Cohen’s
collection of snuff bottles. A parallel situation was occurring where the
market in snuff bottles was fast developing under the auspicious eyes of
both Hugh Moss and the I.C.S.B.S. With an increase in awareness came an
increase in demand and consequently, in the value of snuff bottles.
On one occasion they were visiting Richard Marchant, a dealer in Oriental
art in Kensington Church Street, London and could not find a snuff bottle
that they liked within their price range. Richard Marchant suggested as an
alternative that they might like to look at a small collection of jade
carvings he had recently acquired, as he thought they would appeal to them.
Amongst this group were several jade pendants which immediately attracted
their attention and on this visit they went home with three of them, one of
which was a white and russet piece carved as a squirrel with grapes (P29).
In a sense it was an almost natural progression. Their interest in jewellery,
their joint preference for examples in jade, with the additional attribute
of very good quality carving came together in these fascinating pieces.
The hunt began
A factor which quickened their interest was the challenge inherent in
collecting pieces which were less popular than snuff bottles, as there was
no known market, and good quality old pendants were considerably harder to
find. It is not clear whether this is due to a lack of awareness in the
market, or that pendants are rarer than snuff bottles, although they both
feel that the latter is true. None of the dealers that have found pendants
for this collection are aware of another collection, and all of them have
confirmed, that good quality pendants are indeed much harder to find than
comparable snuff bottles.
Their second chance to add to this new collection came after they mentioned
their growing interest in this area to Robert Hall. He already had a small
personal collection of jade pendants which he showed them and which were
eventually purchased as a whole group.
This collection now totals over seventy pieces, mostly in jade or agate but
also including such materials as coral, amber, amethyst, tourmaline and
Exhibitions of pendants
In October 1987, an exhibition of the collection was mounted at Robert
Hall's gallery in London to coincide with the annual International Chinese
Snuff Bottle Society convention being held there.
Research does not reveal any other exhibitions of Qing dynasty pendants
between the two exhibitions at Liberty's, London and this exhibition which
will be familiar to those who attended the convention. There was no
catalogue of the last exhibition however a striking poster illustrating a
substantial number of the pendants in the collection was produced.
Lindsey Hall started to collect pendants soon after that exhibition, however
after a number of years she had only acquired ten pieces and was frustrated
with such slow progress. Most of those pendants were recently sold and are
now in this collection.
Links across these collections
There are a number of interesting pieces which cross over all the
collections. One object forms a connection between netsuke, lacquer, snuff
bottles and pendants. It is a fine double gourd-shaped guri lacquer netsuke (N57)
in the form of a snuff bottle complete with spoon and a central link to
allow it to hang as a pendant. The bond between snuff bottles and pendants
occurs with a well hollowed russet jade snuff bottle (B60)
of pebble form, carved in relief, as a marrow with a beetle crawling amongst
foliage. One of the branches enables it also to be hung as a pendant.
Handling with care and affection
One of the attractions of netsuke, snuff bottles and pendants is that they
all function as wonderfully tactile handling pieces, and one feels that the
Chinese carvers whether using wood, ivory, jade or hardstones generally took
special care to avoid sharp edges that would feel uncomfortable in the hand.
One of the Cohen’s favourite pendants illustrates this very well; it is a
(P53), the reverse carved with raised calligraphy against
rockwork, translated as ‘the most fabulous kylin’, the front with a high
relief carving of a kylin blowing clouds into the sky, the brown stone
contrasting effectively with the milky white background. This pendant from
the Suzhou School must rank as one of the finest in this collection, it is
breathtaking to look at and marvellous to handle.
Occasionally, there are pendants which are technically admirable but which
are uncomfortable in the hand and this may have occurred where concessions
to the sense of touch were less necessary i.e. if the pendant was worn too
high or too low (girdle pendants) for ease in handling.
A jade pendant in the collection is a good example of this (P41).
Again, manufactured by the Suzhou carvers, it depicts a monkey holding a
peach beneath a pine tree, the russet yellow tone against a creamy grey
background of dramatic rockwork, a waterfall to one side. It is a fantastic
piece visually but as a handling piece leaves much to be desired.
The third Suzhou school pendant in the collection (P44)
also deserves a mention as it is a prime example of exhibiting the maker’s
sense of humour in the work of art - a classic Chinese characteristic. Again
in jade, it is carved with a prancing horse against an off-white background
with rockwork to one side, under a pine tree with a cheeky monkey hanging
off the tree; the reverse with a grey monkey on a lotus pod by rockwork. It
is only after handling this tactile and intricate piece that you come across
the small monkey hidden upside down beneath the tree.
Another favourite pendant is a carnelian example (P65)
carved using the red and white inclusions with silkworms and moths amongst
mulberry fruit and leaves. It is very nicely undercut in relief and is
smooth to the touch. The accompanying bead is also in the form of fruit,
carved in green glass as a pair of peaches.
Although most pieces in the collection are either jade or agate, the
Cohen’s have not restricted themselves exclusively to these materials;
rather they have been constrained by the availability of good quality
pendants in other materials. One of the most dramatic of these is in amber (P71),
well carved as a shi-shi with the young pups carved using the opaque yellow (root
amber) whilst the shi-shi itself is of a transparent rich golden honey
Collecting never ends
The owners remain fascinated by their collection; whilst no collection is
truly complete, their activities are focused on actively acquiring pendants
rather than snuff bottles. Their task is hard yet their enthusiasm is
undaunted. Having attempted to share their collection with other collectors
they hope that this may bring more pendants to light and that collectors
will appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the pieces, in some senses
so similar to our beloved snuff bottles.
E-mail: [email protected]
Clare and Michael
Asian Art Studio, Inc
425 Gin Ling Way,
1. In this article
there is a distinction made between Chinese pendants and belt toggles used
for fastening things to the belt.
2. Medley. M. The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of
the Ch'ing dynasty. Published by Han Shan Tang, 1982.
3. Cammann. S. Chinese Belt Toggles. Oriental Art. 1962. No 2. PP 72-78.
4. Spink & Son Ltd. Catalogue of ‘The Minor Arts of China III’.
April 1987 No. 30. pp. 35; No. 46. pp. 43.
Cohen. G. In Search of Netsuke and Inro. Published by The Jacey Group of
Watt. J.C.Y. Chinese Jades From Han to Ch'ing. Published by Asia Society
Inc. in association with John Wetherhill. 1980.
Kaynes. M. Snuff Bottle Review. 1976.
Liberty's of London. Jade Amulets I and II. Catalogues of the exhibitions of
1919 and 1925.
The Cohen Collection of Jade and Chinese Carvings
Having been invited to comment on
the hardstones in this excellent collection I have picked the following,
mostly jade items, as being of particular interest.
A large pale celadon jade stone (H1).
Carved as a double gourd box, surrounded by foliage, and young gourds. This
jade box and cover is, very rare, well hollowed and unusually well carved in
A fine celadon pebble jade carving (H3)
of a sack that is tied with a long ribbon, carved in relief, together with a
peony flower. A bat is on one side of the sack. Here is very good use of the
stone's colour and natural pebble form with subtle low relief carving
Celadon and russet jadeite carving of Guanyin with phoenix and flowers (H5)
is an unusual composition. Guanyin is usually depicted on her own, rare with
A fine handling piece of white jade (H6)
with some russet markings. When viewed by turning this piece around, and
upside down, a number of images can be discovered:- lingzhi, pair of quail
on rocks, an old prunus tree, a dragon on a rock, and a mandarin duck. Good
quality and use of this stone combined with the russet markings.
Very pure white nephrite carving of an elephant (H7)
resting with its body curled around a small boy reaching up to tickle the
elephant's ear with a spray of lingzhi fungus. This is a fine small handling
piece, about the size of the average netsuke.
The white jade archers ring (H8)
carved in relief with a horse, in a continuous mountaineous landscape, that
includes under the moon, a temple, a pine tree, and a raised four section
seal. Pure colour, well carved and good choice of subject, altogether a fine
quality jade of its type.
A good spinach jade bowl (H9),
well-hollowed and a pleasing form, nicely proportioned and with strong loose
ring handles, finely worked floral, chrysanthemum style, foot.
A mutton fat Jade belt plaque (H10)
undercut and well carved as storks and foliage. This is a fine Ming plaque.
The Jade circular spinach screen (H25),
appears to be strongly carved with figures in a landscape and of a very good
Entwined dragon pendant (P9),
good tone, particularly well rendered and modelled for a complicated design.
The pearl with dragons pendant (P15)
is a fine example of 18th century craftsmanship.
The phoenix with dragon pendant (P18),
is good quality and rare.
A pair of dragons pendant (P19),
is another good example of an 18th century work.
Also the phoenix with lingzhi pendant (P21),
is a very fine example.
The Camel faced pendant (P30)
appears to be a good 17/18th century example.
The amethyst and gourd pendant (P65)
is well carved with a very fine colour.
The bamboo tourmaline pendant (P66),
is a rare subject, and very well-carved and pierced.
Lastly the Canton enamel wine ewer (M9),
is a good example of its type, the floral panels are particularly pleasing.
E-mail: [email protected]
Roger Keverne Ltd
16 Clifford Street
London W1X 1RG