A very rare rhinoceros horn 'pine' libation cup, 17th-18th century. Photo Bonhams.
The broad-lipped glossy cup formed as a pine trunk with detailed oval knots carved in low relief, the handle shaped as a twisted pine branch issuing groups of pine needles, rising from the foot and reaching into the smooth interior, and intertwined with a slender twisting branch of flowering prunus. 16.8cm (6 5/8in) long. Sold for £110,500 (€132,113)
Provenance: an important European private collection
Previously on loan to two British museums from the mid 1970s until recently.
The present rhinoceros horn libation cup is a testament to the virtuosity of the master craftsman who succeeded in transferring the prized horn surface into a scholarly feat of nature imbued in the naturally rendered trunk and branches, the oval pine bark and delicate needles. The attention to detail is further demonstrated in the finely curved rim around the edges of the cup.
Compare a similar 'pine' rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century, illustrated by T.Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.121.
Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART. London, New Bond Street. 7 Nov 2013 - www.bonhams.com