A small straw-glazed white stoneware ewer, Sui-early Tang dynasty, 6th-7th century

Lot 703. A small straw-glazed white stoneware ewer, Sui-early Tang dynasty, 6th-7th century; 9¼ in. (23.5 cm.) high. Estimate USD 6,000 - USD 8,000. Price realised USD 20,000. © Christie’s Image Ltd 2014

The ovoid body is carved beneath the tapering spout with a narrow chevron band terminating in a foliate applique. A similar applique is at the base of the curved handle which has a band of beads in the center and is applied at the top with a human head looking over the shaped mouth rim. The ewer is covered overall with a clear glaze of faint olive tone that falls short of the spreading pedestal foot exposing the white under-slip which ends at the top of the otherwise unglazed, spreading pedestal foot.

Provenance: Anna Ilsley Ball Kneeland (1865-1955), New York, acquired 1918-1931, and thence by descent within the family.

Exhibited: On loan: Yale University Art Gallery, 1955 to April 2014.

Note: The shape and decoration of this vessel are closely related to imported metalwork and leather bottles from the Silk Road, while the leaf decoration at the base of the ornamental seam and handle is Hellenistic in origin, as is possibly the head. Similar examples of this rare form include two illustrated in Homage to Heaven, Homage to Earth - Chinese Treasures of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1992, p. 58, pl. 25; and the one illustrated in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, vol. I, Tokyo, 1976, p. 81, no. 212. See, also, the similar ewer of larger size (11¼ in.) sold at Christie's New York, 19 September 2006, lot 200.

Christie’s. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 18 – 19 September 2014, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.