Bronze, Hu, Dynastie des Zhou Orientaux, fin de l'époque Printemps-Automne, ca




Lot 42. Fragment d'un Vase en Bronze, Hu, Dynastie des Zhou Orientaux, fin de l'époque Printemps-Automne, ca. VIe-Ve siècle avant J.-C.; Larg. 17 cm. Estimation 8,000 — 12,000 EUR. Lot Vendu 37,500 EUR. Courtesy Sotheby's 2015.

légèrement incurvé, finement sculpté en bas-relief de deux registres de décoration horizontaux, la bande supérieure abritant des personnages décochant des flèches à des bêtes fabuleuses, la bande inférieure abritant dragons, oiseaux et personnages fabuleux ailés, le bronze recouvert d'une légère patine vert clair changeante, D.W 3274.

ExhibitedBronzes Chinois des Dynasties Tcheou, T'sin & Han, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1934, no. 37.

LiteratureO. Janse, 'Le Style du Houai et ses affinités', Revue des Arts Asiatiques: Annales du Musée Guimet, VIII.3, 1934, pl. LVI:3.
Georges Salles, Bronzes Chinois des Dynasties TcheouT'sin & Han, Paris, 1934, cat. no. 37 (not illustrated). 
André Leroi-Gourhan, Bestiaire du Bronze Chinois de Style Tcheou, Paris, 1936, fig. 68.
Charles D. Weber, Chinese Pictorial Bronze Vessels of the Late Chou Period, Ascona, 1968, fig. 32.

Note: Like the small bronze vessel illustrated in lot 17, the present fragment originally formed part of a bronze Hu-shaped vessel. The rounded form of this thinly cast fragment suggests that it came from the body of a vessel, compare a complete vessel cast with a strikingly similar design from the Avery Brundage Collection, illustrated in Rene-Yvon Levebvre d'Argence, Bronze Vessels of Ancient China in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1977, p. 126, pl. LV, and a second hu-shaped vessel with a similar pictorial design from the Stoclet Collection, Brussels, published in H.F.E. Visser, Asiatic Art in Private Collections of Holland and Belgium, Amsterdam, 1948, p. 134, pls. 27 and 28.

The present fragment is one of several examples collected by David-Weill, all decorated with strange figures and creatures, often, as on this example, depicted in combat, see two other fragments from the David-Weill Collection, illustrated in O. Janse, ’Le Style du Houai et ses Affinités. Notes à propos de quelques Objets de la Collection David-Weill', in Revue des Arts Asiatiques: Annales du Musée Guimet, vol. VIII, no. 3 (1934), pl. LVI, figs. 1 and 2, and sold Sotheby's London, 29th February 1972, lots 139 and 140. All these fragments belong to a small group of complete vessels with distinctive pictorial designs in Western collections formed in the 1930s when five similar vessels were discovered at Liulige, Henan, first published in Guo Baojun, Shanbiaozhen yu Liulige, Beijing, 1959. 

The decoration on this particular fragment is organised in horizontal registers depicting strange human and animal figures in profile and engaged in what Rene-Yvon Levebvre d'Argence describes as 'some sort of pugnacious activity', compare Rene-Yvon Levebvre d'Argence, ibid., p. 126. Bronzes with pictorial designs featuring human and animal figures first appear in the late 6th/5th century of the Eastern Zhou period and are rare. On some of these vessels, the designs are inlaid with copper, on others, such as on this fragment, the design is cast in a flat relief against a plain background.

The development and different styles of this comparatively small group of bronze vessels have been researched by Charles D. Weber in Chinese Pictorial Vessels of the Late Eastern Zhou Period, Ascona, 1968, in which the present fragment is also reproduced, ibid., fig. 32. Several bronze hu with the motif of a man fighting an animal with a spear, including the Avery-Brundage example and two examples excavated from Liulige, Henan, are illustrated by Charles Weber, ibid., figs. 42a, 42c, 43b, 43c. Weber also illustrates two bronze vessels from Liulige and one from the Eric Lidow Collection, and a third from the collection of J. Stonborough, Paris, depicting a 'bird-man' with strange blade-like arms, tail and clawed feet between birds as seen on the lower register on the David-Weill fragment, compare Charled D. Weber, ibid., figs. 45a, 45b and 48c. 

Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015