A large rhinoceros horn ‘Pine and River’ libation cup, Qing Dynasty , 17th-18th century. Estimate 800,000 — 1,200,000 HKD. Lot Sold 1,720,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby’s.
the tapered horn carved on the exterior around the mouthrim with jagged rockwork and branches issuing clusters of leaves, the lower section of the vessel decorated in low relief with tempestuous waves, the openwork handle formed on one side with intertwining branches issuing further pine blossoms and extending onto the interior of the cup, the horn patinated to a dark brown tone, wood stand; 19 cm., 7 1/2 in.
Notes: Rhinoceros horn cups of this type, finely carved with scenes from nature devoid of human figures, were particularly sought after by scholars as they served as sources of inspiration for reflection and escape from the duties of officialdom. The present piece is notable for the craftsman’s ability to capture different textures, from the craggy rocks that hang from the top to the waves of crashing water below, which stylistically is reminiscent of that seen on blue and white porcelain.
Related examples include two of slightly smaller size, decorated with a riverscape, from the Songzhutang collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 31st May 2010, lots 1811 and 1816; another, carved with a cliff face embedded with pine and wutong trees, sold in our London rooms, 17th October 1978, lot 160; and a fourth cup, sold in these rooms 20th May 1986, lot 174, and again, from the collection of Franklin Chow, 8th April 2011, lot 2717.
Sotheby’s. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 oct. 2014, 03:00 PM