A fine rhinoceros horn libation cup, 18th century. Photo Bonhams
The exterior carved in crisp shallow relief with four landscape panels each contained within a raised surround, a shallow-relief band of archaistic double S-scrolls beneath the asymmetrical rim, the handle deeply hollowed as a dragon-headed mythical animal biting the rim and with its two legs dividing down towards the base. 16cm (6 3/8in) wide - Lot 217Y. Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000 / CNY 800,000 - 1.2 million / HK$ 990,000 - 1.5 million
Provenance: a private European collection, acquired by repute circa 1950s, and thence by descent.
The present libation cup is a remarkable feat of carving and a successful example of the use of the libation cup as a canvas to depict painterly landscape scenes within shaped cartouches, most probably based on scroll paintings. This decorative design of landscape cartouches is familiar in porcelain vessels, which may have further served as inspiration for the master carver.