A Large Silver Wire-Inlaid Bronze Censer, 17th-18th century. Photo Christies Image Ltd 2012
The heavily cast censer is adorned with two contoured loop handles embellished with inlaid silver wire floral scrolls. A lotus scroll band decorates the rim, followed by a wide band of peony blooms on foliate stems to the body and a further floral band to the foot. The base is impressed with a Xuande six-character mark in a cartouche and inlaid with a silver shi sou mark encircled by a pair of stylised confronting dragons contesting the flaming pearl. 12¼ in. (31 cm.) wide across the handles - Estimate £8,000 - £12,000
Provenance: The Honourable Francis Henry Everard Joseph Feilding (1867-1936), and thence in the family by descent.
Notes: Shi Sou, together with Hu Wenming, was one of the two best known bronze makers of the late Ming dynasty. Rose Kerr in Later Chinese Bronzes, London, 1990, suggests the large numbers of bronzes bearing Shi Sou marks might mean the name could have been a trade mark for a number of entrepreneurs coordinating the work of several makers. Like this censor, most bronzes bearing the name Shi Sou, translating "old man Shi", are inlaid with silver wire.
Christie's. Chinese. 9 November 2012. London, South Kensington