A painted pottery model of a caparisoned horse, Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550)

Lot 42. A painted pottery model of a caparisoned horse, Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550). 45cm (17 6/8in) high. Estimate £5,000 - 8,000 (€5,700 - 9,100). Sold for £16,250 (€18,334). Photo: Bonhams.

Naturalistically modelled standing foursquare on a rectangular base with a long arched neck and elongated head, lavishly caparisoned with a horned and tassel-hung bridle, tasselled and medallion-applied crupper, a long knotted cloth draped over the saddle, with traces of white, red, and gold pigments. 

Provenance: a distinguished European private collection. The Property of a Nobleman.

The result of a thermoluminescence test, Oxford Authentication Ltd., No.C198t55 dated 28 July 1998, is consistent with the dating of this lot.

NoteCarefully fashioned with close attention to detail such as detailed harnesses embellished with conch shells and bells, and floating blankets that resembled flowing wings, the horse is a fine example of the limited sculptural production of the Wei dynasty that has survived to this date. It is possible that the horse may have been imported from the Central Asian region of Ferghana, whose horses were highly favoured by the Chinese Imperial Court and upper classes for their spirit and vitality. 

Compare a similar horse, Wei dynasty, illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art: Chinese Ceramics, Neolithic to Liao, vol.1, Hong Kong, 1993, no.71; and another, which was sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 1999, lot 221.

A painted buff pottery figure of a caparisoned horse, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534)

A painted buff pottery figure of a caparisoned horse, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). 14in. (37.5cm.) high . Sold for 20,700 USD at Christie's New York, 22 March 1999, lot 221© Christie's Images Ltd 1999.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 9 Nov 2017, 10:30 GMT, LONDON, NEW BOND STREET