A large full-tip rhinoceros horn cup. Early 19th century. Photo Bonhams
Heavily carved and pierced, beneath a single large lotus leaf forming the cup, with figures perched on a succession of small terraces winding up the length of the shaft and interspersed by a sampan in a waterfall and a boy riding a buffalo, wood stand. The horn 65cm (25½in) long; overall 77cm (30¼in) high (2). Lot 225Y. Estimate: £60,000 - 100,000 / CNY 600,000 - 1.0 million / HK$ 740,000 - 1.2 million
It is very possible that the inspiration for the elaborate carving of full-tip rhinoceros horn cups, produced in Canton in the 19th century, was derived from large carved rhinoceros horns such as two from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, pls. 109 and 131. For a similar example to the present cup, in the Durham University Oriental Museum, see J.Chapman, The Art of the Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl.38.
Compare related large full-tip rhinoceros horn cups, 19th century, carved in high relief with figures, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, on 1 June 2011, lot 3765; and at Christie's New York, on 15-16 September 2011, lot 1231.