A rare rhinoceros horn 'pine and cliff' libation cup, 17th-18th century

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Lot 156. A rare rhinoceros horn 'pine and cliff' libation cup, 17th-18th century. Estimate GBP 10,000-15,000Sold for £27,500 (€31,119). Courtesy Bonhams.

Crisply carved around the exterior with wutong, cypress and pine trees against angular rocky outcrops, two large pine trees forming the handle with further gnarled branches and pine-needles emerging through the interior in high relief, a swirling stream at the base, the horn of reddish-brown tone. 10.5cm (4 1/8in) long.

Provenance: an English private collection.

Note: The present libation cup is solely carved in high relief with a mountainous landscape scene devoted to the craggy overhanging cliffs and gnarled pine, cypress and wutong trees set above a stream, invoking the idealistic nature retreat the literati would aspire to retire to. This bold design is more unusual compared to those also decorated with sages and attendants; compare a related but larger rhinoceros horn libation cup, signed Wenshu zhi, 17th century, from the collection of Harvard University Art Museums, illustrated in T.Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, no.131.

See a related but larger rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th/18th century, which was sold in these Rooms, 14 May 2015, lot 247.

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A fine and large rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th-18th centurySold for £56,250 (€63,652) at Bonhams London, 14 May 2015, lot 247Photo: Bonhams. 

Cf. my post: Seven rhinoceros horn libation cups, 17th to 19th century, at Bonhams London, 14 May 2015

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