Lot 6. A very rare rhinoceros horn archaistic tripod vessel, jue, 17th century; 5½ in. (14 cm.) wide. Estimate GBP 100,000 - GBP 150,000. Price realised GBP 217,250. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011
he well-hollowed vessel finely carved around the exterior with a wide band enclosing two taotie masks reserved on a diaper ground, the flaring rim carved with a thin leiwen band repeated to the exterior and applied with two loop handles emanating from monster masks, all supported on three gently splayed legs.
Provenance: Acquired by the current owner in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
Note: This cup, made in the form of an archaic bronze ritual wine vessel jue, reflects the incredibly high level of artistry and skill possessed by the carver. In addition to the cup's tribute to antiquity as an archaic bronze form, the incorporation of more contemporaneous details, such as the monster-mask ring handles, makes the present lot particularly interesting.
It joins a small and rare group of similarly carved and extremely high quality rhinoceros horn libation cups that includes an example from the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 44 - Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, pp. 154-5, no.205. Compare also with another jue-form cup illustrated in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, no.8.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 10 May 2011, London, King Street