Irony, play and compassion

A dandy's moment, circa 1900

A vase made on the cusp of epochal disaster for the literati. Yet it is pure and thrillingly light in gesture, a thin line twisting and turning on the surface of a vase (actually, one of pair, the whole decoration performed once again in mirror image.)

Hair on end, leg rakishly crossed, the dandy holds a pipa, while scattered around him are books, scrolls, tea and a garland of flowers. Whether in wilful denial or heroic resistance to contemporary events, this pair of vases offered its buyer an ideal version of a spectacle already collapsing. 

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