A rhinoceros horn 'Peach' libation cup, Late Ming-early Qing dynasty

Lot 3703. A rhinoceros horn 'Peach' libation cup, Late Ming-early Qing dynasty, 7 cm, 2 5/8  in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000. Lot sold 625,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

modelled in the form of a hollowed peach, borne on a gnarled leafy bough forming the handle, extended to further branches issuing a smaller peach fruit on the base, carved bamboo stand.

ProvenanceThe Songzhutang Collection, acquired in New York, 1997. 
Christie's Hong Kong, 30th November 2011, lot 3035.

ExhibitedMetal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth: Gems of Antiquities Collections in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 2002-2005.

NoteExquisitely carved in the form of half a peach, this cup is notable for the naturalistic modelling of the leafy branches which provide an attractive contrast to the plain surface of the vessel. Furthermore, the attractive darker streaks and spots of the rhinoceros horn have been cleverly incorporated to simulate the markings on ripe peaches.

While the auspicious motif of peaches was widely used on rhinoceros horn cups, vessels modelled in in the form of a peach are rare; a similar cup in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, is illustrated in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 227, together with a peach-shaped bowl from the same collection, pl. 70; a larger example from the collection of M.A. Beasley was sold in our London rooms, 1st/2nd November 1984, lot 294; and another was sold at Christie’s New York, 29th March 2006, lot 236.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Oct 2017