Subject:Re: Chinese porcelain plaque dating
Posted By: Bill H Mon, Jan 07, 2019
Your plaque purports to be by an early 20th century artist Named Zhou Xiaosong (周筱松) and to have been done (I think) in the autumn of 1904 (the Jiachen cyclical year?). The boldly written title in the righthand stack of three characters says "Tan Zhu Tu" (探珠圖)or "Tanzhu" Picture. This is a reference to the four-character idiom, "Tan li de zhu" (探驪得珠), which literally means to "To grab the pearl of wisdom from right under the black dragon's jaws". As an idiom, though, it is used to praise a student whose composition has expressed the very essence of its theme.
I couldn't find any other work of this title by Zhou Xiaosong, but I gained an impression from several other works by Zhou seen in the midst of my research that he was capable of much better art than is expressed in this plaque. Perhaps Rat and others who may know the artist can comment on this aspect, but it is my feeling that you may have an attribution to Zhou by another artist. The following links lead to a couple of his works:
I also include an impromptu translation of his brief biography found online:
Zhou Xiaoxun (周筱松) also called "Ding" (鼎) and Xiaosong (筱松), was a Sichuan native. His dates of birth and death are unknown. He was a famous porcelain painter during the early Republic of China and one of the founders of modern painting at Jingdezhen. Originally a well-known stone carver, he was good at Buddhas and deities such as Zhong Kui, Luohans and so on; quite vivid and lifelike. According to what the "Ludezhen History of Porcelain Arts" said: "Jingdezhen's most famous ceramic painters in the early Republic of China years, were Pan Taoyu, Wang Xiaolin and their three contemporaries, Wang Dongrong, Zhou Xiaosong (周小松) and Xu Shangli."