A bronze ritual wine vessel and cover (you), Late Shang dynasty, 12th-11th century BC. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 USD. Price Realized $370,000. Photo Sotheby's
the compressed pear-shaped body well-cast in low relief with two taotie animal masks, set between a narrow band of two pairs of confronting kui dragons centered by an animal mask and two raised fillets encircling the splayed oval pedestal foot, the swing handle attached to two loops handles cast with four elegantly elongated dragons, the domed cover with a band of four further dragons surmounted by a bud-form knop, the interior of cover and base cast with five-character inscriptions reading xiaozi zuo mu ji, mottled dark green patina with malachite encrustation. Height 11 1/4 in., 28.5 cm
Provenance: Collection of James Monroe McAdams, Mobile, Alabama.
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 4th November 1948, lot 170.
Collection of Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) and thence by descent.
Yu Xingwu, Shangzhou jinwen luyi (Collected Records of Shang and Zhou Bronze Inscriptions), Beijing, 1957, no. 258.1-2.
Yan Yiping, Jinwen zongji (Corpus of Bronze Inscriptions), Taipei, 1983, no. 5313.
Institute of Archaeology, CASS, Yinzhou jinwen jicheng (Compendium of Shang and Zhou Bronze Inscriptions), Beijing, 2007, no. 05175.
Wu Zhenfeng, Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng (Compendium of Inscriptions and Images of Bronzes from Shang and Zhou Dynasties), Shanghai, 2012, no. 13033.
Notes: An identical bronze you with the same inscription and possibly the mate to the present piece from the Avery Brundage Collection is illustrated in Wu Zhenfeng, Shang Zhou Qingtongqi Mingwenji Tuxiang Jicheng (A Collection of Inscriptions and Images of Shang and Zhou Archaic Bronzes), Shanghai, 2012, vol. 23, no. 13032 where the author notes that the Avery Brundage you was in the collection by 1941.
Inscription illustrated in Shang Zhou Qingtongqi Mingwenji Tuxiang Jicheng, no. 13033.
The inscription on the current lot matches the inscription illustrated for a you, op. cit., no. 13033, and there is a possibility that the inscription illustrated was taken from the present piece.
A similar example but with a twisted rope handle, dated to the late Shang dynasty, was found at Shandong Teng Xian and is illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIB, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990, pl. 70.3.
Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 15 sept. 2015