An important and extremely rare rhinoceros horn deer-form libation cup, Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century

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Lot 3755. An important and extremely rare rhinoceros horn deer-form libation cup, Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century; 5 1/2 in. (14 cm.) wide. Estimate HK$4,000,000 - HK$5,000,000 ($520,000 - $650,000). Price Realized HK$4,580,000 ($591,476)© Christie's Images Ltd. 2011

The hollowed cup superbly carved as a powerful full-bodied recumbent deer, its front talon-like feet contentedly crossed at the front below the chest which bears the four-character inscription, Tianlu yongchang, 'Eternal prosperity', its rear legs partially tucked beneath the body which is adorned with ruyi cloud-like swirls, the animal's head naturalistically carved with the horns, eyes and nose slightly raised to act as a stand for the cup, its finely detailed fur and ears swept backwards, with long horns trailing behind and resting on its back to either side of a raised dorsal ridge terminating in a bushy tail falling in curls at the base, the stone of a rich walnut tone lightening slightly to a golden brown colour at the base.

Provenance: John Warrack, LL.D., Edinburgh
Previously sold at Sotheby's London, 12th November, 1974, lot 134
Acquired in London in the 1970s

Literature: Francois Leroy, Connaissance Des Arts, 'Les coupes en corne de rhinoceros', July 1978, no. 4.
Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 83, no. 57
Exhibited: Royal Academy of Arts, London, International Exhibition of Chinese Art, November 1935 - March 1936, illustrated in the Catalogue, p. 264, no. 2945
 
Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 1 June 2011, Convention Hall