A pair of painted pottery figures of ladies, Tang dynasty

Lot 8. A pair of painted pottery figures of ladies, Tang dynasty. Height of taller 16 in., 40.7 cm. Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 USD. Lot sold 52,500 USD. Photo: Sotheby's

well modeled, each standing in an elegant swaying pose with hands clasped within the full sleeves of the long, heavy robes falling in deep folds to the base, with a shawl over the shoulder and long robe cut square above the chest, the face modeled with fully rounded features framed by the long hair drawn into an elaborate coiffure arranged in a dramatic crescent framing the face and an asymmetrical twisted bun on one figure, and a centered fan-shaped double top knot on the other, with traces of pigment, the robes detailed with florets, wood stands, Japanese wood boxes (8).

ProvenanceOffered at Christie's Los Angeles, 4th December 1998, lot 9.

NotesFunerary figures of full-figured ladies, with elaborately ‘fallen’ chignons and dressed in loose flowing robes, demonstrated the ideals of beauty during the high Tang period. The dress and hairstyles seen on these figures are similar to those of ladies depicted in murals on the walls of tomb no. 187, Astana, Turfan, particularly ‘Lady Under a Tree’ now at the MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan and dated to the first half of the 8th century. Others, now preserved in the Xinjiang Museum, are illustrated in The Ancient Art in Xinjiang, China, Urumqi, 1994, p. 87, pls. 213 and 215. For examples of painted pottery court ladies see a smaller figure included in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol. Three (I), London, 2006, pl. 1215. A similar figure but with a high chignon, excavated in 1955 from tomb 131 at Gaolou Village, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, dated to 748, was included in the exhibition The Quest for Eternity, Los Angeles County Museum, 1987, cat. no. 83.

The dating of this lot is consistent with the result of a thermoluminescence test, Oxford Authentication Ltd., sample no. C298c57.

Sotheby's. Chinese Art Through the Eye of Sakamoto Gor: Early Chinese Art, New York, 13 Sep 2016, 10:00 AM