Lot 51. A rare begonia-shaped parcel-gilt silver stembowl, Tang dynasty, 8th century, 15.4cm., 6 1/4 in. Estimate 8,000 — 12,000 GBP. Lot sold 78,500 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.
the bowl in the shape of a begonia flower rising from a gently spreading quatrefoil foot with a beaded border in repoussé, the interior of the bowl finely engraved and parcel-gilt with a central dragon-fish surrounded by four geese in flight, all amidst large scrolling feathery leaves and reserved on a finely ring-punched ground, the inside rim with a narrow band of overlapping petals. Weight: 143g.
Exhibited: Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1954-55, cat. no. 119.
Literature: Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, pl. 119.
Bo Gyllensvärd, 'T'ang Gold and Silver', Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 29, 1957, fig. 20j, fig. 98b.
Han Wei, Hai nei wai Tangdai jin yin qi cuibian [Tang Gold and Silver in Chinese and overseas collections], Xi'an, 1989, pl. 90.
Note: Elongated lobed cups of this type with chased decoration are shaped after Sassanian gold and silver prototypes. See Jessica Rawson, 'Chinese Silver and its Western Origins', Connoisseur, September 1977, p. 37, where a Tang lobed cup in the British Museum is illustrated, pl. 1, together with a Sassanian type parcel-gilt silver cup with repousse decoration of dancing ladies, stags and grapevine pattern, from the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, pl. 2.
A related cup, from the Eumorfopoulos collection and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, was included in the exhibition The Arts of the T'ang Dynasty, Los Angeles County Museum, 1957, cat.no. 339; and another, on loan at the Virginia Museum and University Museum, Philadelphia, was sold in our New York rooms, 4th June 1986, lot 242.
Compare also a cup of quatrefoil form with a similar saw-edge pattern around the foot, from the Mayer Collection, its line drawing illustrated in Bo Gyllensvard, Tang Gold and Silver, Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 29, 1957, fig. 20m, and included in the exhibition Chinese Art in the Minor Dynasties and T'ang, China House, New York, 1950, sold at Christie's London, 24/25th June 1974, lot 167; and an eight-lobed cup from the collection of Dr. Pierre Uldry included in the exhibition Chinesisches Gold und Silber, Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 1994, cat. no. 139.
Sotheby's. Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork, Early Gold and Silver; Early Chinese White, Green and Black Wares, London, 14 May 2008