17 août 2019

Han Dynasty Masterpieces of Early Chinese Gold and Silver from Dr. Johan Carl Kempe at Christie's NY, 12 September 2019

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Lot 506. A rare gold plaque, Northeast China, 1st century BC-3rd century AD; 2 7/8 in. (7.4 cm.) wide; weight 41.6 g. Estimate USD 10,000 - USD 15,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

The plaque is shaped as four animal heads, projecting from the corners, with a highly abstract figure in the center, and further decorated with two raised oval bosses and cloisons.

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK33.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 31.

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 33.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 31

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, pl. 33

NoteThis very rare plaque and a similar gold plaque found in Inner Mongolia and illustrated in a line drawing by Qi Dongfang, Tangdai jin yin qi yan jiu (Research on Tang Gold and Silver), Beijing, 1999, p. 240, fig. 2-81, are similar in concept, albeit more abstract, to one of larger size (4 in. long) of 3rd-4th century date excavated in 1990 at Horqin Zuoyizhong Banner, Jerim League, Inner Mongolia, illustrated by James C. Y. Watt et al., China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004, p. 129, no. 35. That plaque is cast in openwork as a female figure flanked by two animals. Watt links the design of the plaque to an earlier hardstone-inlaid gold pendant of ca. 1st century BC date excavated at Tillya Tepe, northern Afghanistan, illustrated p. 10, fig. 7, which depicts a more readily identifiable design of a clothed female figure with out-stretched arms flanked by two winged, gazelle-like animals with turquoise-inlaid manes.

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Lot 514. Two rare openwork gold beads, Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD); ½ and 5/8 in. (1.4 and 1.7 cm.) diam.; weight 10.9 and 15.4 g. Estimate USD 5,000 - USD 7,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

Each spherical bead is elaborately composed of twelve small gold rings joined together with fine bead granulation.

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK13.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 37.

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 13. 
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 13

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat no. 13

NoteThese rare gold beads are similar to two from a group of gold floral-form beads, of various shapes, all with granulation, illustrated by Yang Boda, 'Ancient Chinese Cultures of Gold Jewellery and Ornamentation', Arts of Asia, vol. 38, no. 2, March-April 2008, p. 101, pl. 43. See, also, the single bead in the Cheng Xun Tang Collection included in the exhibition Celestial Creations: Art of the Chinese Goldsmith, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007, pp. 82-83, no. B05. A bead similar to the two present examples is illustrated by Zhixin Jason Sun et al., with a group of other gold beads, in Age of Empires: Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2017, pp. 196-97, no. 112a-f, where it is dated ca. 1st century BC-2nd century AD. The author notes that gold beads of this type have been found at numerous ancient sites in southeast Asia and China, suggesting that they were "sought-after trade items on the Central, South, and Southeast Asian and Chinese markets." He goes on to propose that they "were likely made in the ancient city of Taxila" as it was a "pivotal junction between South and Central Asia where a large number of such beads have been recovered."

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Lot 517. A set of four ornamental gold fragments, Eastern Han-Six Dynasties period, 3rd-4th century AD; Each 1 1/8 in. (2.8 cm.) wide; total weight 20 gEstimate USD 2,000 - USD 3,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019. 

Each fragment is chased with a dragon with large head and coiled tail shown in profile and decorated with granulation, with some raised and openwork areas, wood base with magnifier

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK15.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 35

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 15.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 14.  

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 15.

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Lot 523. A gold sheet belt plaque overlay, Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220); 3 3/8 x 1 ¼ in. (8.5 x 3.3 cm.)Estimate USD 3,000 - USD 5,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.  

The thin gold, rectangular sheet is chased overall with a densely arranged pattern of scrolling meander enclosing a dragon, bear and a bird. The edges are highlighted with minute beading, framed

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK14.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 36.  

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 14.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 10

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 14.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no. 7, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums.

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Lot 524. An openwork gold sheet appliqué, Eastern Han-Early Six Dynasties period, 1st-3rd century AD; 2 ¾ in. (7 cm.) wideEstimate USD 4,000 - USD 6,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.   

The very thin gold sheet of rectangular form has a cut-out design of two stags confronted on a central row of three stacked rings, framed.   

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK31.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 5.   

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 31.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 29.   

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 31.

Note: The design of this gold sheet applaqué appears to be based on that of bronze belt plaques, such as the example in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, illustrated by Emma C. Bunker et al., Ancient Bronzes of the Eurasian Steppes, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1997, p. 280, pl. 248, where the central motif is described as a twisted bush-like form. The author also illustrates, fig. 248, a gold plaque of the same design excavated at a Xianbei site in Sandaowan, Chayouhou banner, Inner Mongolia.

A very rare miniature gold bottle, Eastern Han-Jin dynasty, 3rd-4th century AD

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Lot 525. A very rare miniature gold bottle, Eastern Han-Jin dynasty, 3rd-4th century AD. The bottle, ¾ in. (1.8 cm.) high; weight 9.4 gEstimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.  

The extremely delicate hu-shaped vase is elaborately applied with patterns of volutes, lozenges and scrolls formed by gold wires and teardrop-shaped cloisons, all edges with granulation, and some inlayed with turquoise-colored glassThe shoulder is set with loop handles attached to a short chain. The base is inscribed with a single character, jiu, possibly a goldsmith's surname.   

Provenance: The George Eumorfopoulos (1863-1939) Collection.
Sotheby's London, 5-6 June 1940, lot 503.
Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK16.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 38.   

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 16.
Zhang Linsheng, ‘Zhongguo gudai di jingjin gongyi’, The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, No. 14, 1984, pl. 54, fig. 9.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 15.
Qi Dongfang, Tangdai jin yin qi yan jiu [Research on Tang gold and silver], Beijing, 1999, p. 217, fig. 2-33.   

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 16.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and PorcelainThe Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no. 9, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums

Note: This superb miniature gold bottle is a fine example of the use of gold granulation, mostly seen on small articles or ornaments of Han and Six Dynasties date. The technique of granulation was developed in the ancient Near East as far back as the 3rd millennium BC, and first appeared in China on gold ornaments associated with the nomads of the northern plains at the end of the 4th century BC. By the Western Han period, 3rd century BC, this technique, in which tiny gold spheres are attached to a gold background by diffusion bonding rather than soldering, had been adopted by Chinese goldsmiths, and continued in popularity into the Six Dynasties period and through the Tang into the early Song periods.

A similar miniature gold hu-form bottle with a link handle, that still retains its cover, is one of three miniature gold ornaments decorated with granulation, and dated to the Han dynasty, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, illustrated by R. Soame Jenyns and William Watson, Chinese Art, The Minor Arts, New York, 1963, pp. 32-33, pl. 11. (Fig. 1) Gold granulation can also be seen on several miniature gold ornaments of Han-dynasty date found in high-ranking tombs illustrated by Yang Boda, 'Ancient Chinese Cultures of Gold Jewellery and Ornamentation', Arts of Asia, Vol. 38, No. 2, March-April 2008, pp. 100-102, pls. 39, 40, 42 and 43. Other small gold ornaments with granulation are illustrated in Celestial Creations: Art of the Chinese Goldsmith, The Cheng Xun Tang Collection, vol. I, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007, pls. B06A and B and pl. B11. A pair of similarly decorated gold bottles, attributed to the Eastern Han dynasty, is illustrated by Simon Kwan and Sun Ji, Chinese Gold Ornaments, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 116.

A gold foil-decorated iron mirror, Late Eastern Han-Early Six Dynasties period or later

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Lot 526. A gold foil-decorated iron mirror, Late Eastern Han-Early Six Dynasties period or later; 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.) diam. Estimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019. 

The very thin gold sheet adhered to the circular iron mirror has a cut-out design depicting Xiwangmu and Dongwanggong seated on opposite sides, each flanked by attendants and separated by two carriages drawn by five horses, all within two cut-out saw-tooth bands. The details and outlines are finely chased. The central knob is also covered by a thin gold sheet.  

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK32.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 34.    

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 32.
Bo Gyllensvärd, ‘A Botanical Excursion in the Kempe Collection', Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, No. 37, Stockholm, 1965, pl. 18b.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 30.    

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 32.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and PorcelainThe Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no.13, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums

 Note: The present iron mirror has a thin gold sheet overlay with a cut-out design based on the cast design of Eastern Han (AD 25-220) bronze mirrors, represented by two published examples: one excavated from a Han-dynasty tomb at Shaoxing in Zhejiang province and now in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Ancient Bronze Mirrors from the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2005, pp. 190-91, pl. 58; the other illustrated by Lothar von Falkenhausen, The Lloyd Cotsen Study Collection of Chinese Bronze Mirrors, vol. I, Los Angeles, 2009, pp. 164-65, pls. 68 and 69. 

The design on the bronze prototypes and the present gold and iron mirror reflects a Daoist influence found on some mirrors of late Eastern Han date. On each mirror the design is arranged in quadrants defined by four nipples within bead circles. In one quadrant is Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West) seated on a lotus, and in the opposite quadrant sits Dongwanggong (Royal Father) on a mat above lotus, both powerful Daoist deities that represent the western and eastern directions and also yin and yang. They are flanked by attendants. In each of the other two quadrants on the Shanghai mirror is a carriage drawn by five galloping horses, the motif repeated in one quadrant of the Cotsen mirror, while in the opposite quadrant is a row of six horses, four with riders, below a row of five horses. On each of these mirrors the main field of decoration is encircled by decorative, outer bands, which includes an inscription on the Cotsen mirror. Another gold foil-decorated iron mirror with similar cut-out decoration is in the Freer Gallery of Art, reference F1946.7.

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Lot 528. Four small gold ornaments, Eastern Han-Six Dynasties period, 1st-4th century AD; 1 3/8, ¾, 1 ½ and 1 ½ in. (3.3, 1.9, 3.8 and 3.8 cm.) wide. Estimate USD 30,000 - USD 50,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.  

The group comprises: an ornament decorated as a winged figure riding a dragon, the bodies covered in granulation and the eye of the dragon with a turquoise inlay, on a gilded lacquer backing; an openwork gold plaque similarly decorated with a central figure framed by four directional creatures in a square frame; an openwork gold plaque cut from thin gold sheet decorated with a figure riding on a dragon; and an openwork gold plaque of petal shape with silver and turquoise inlays and decorated with numerous scrolls and volutes depicting a cicada, first with wood base with magnifier, others framed 

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK20.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 39

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 20.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 17, 18, 19, 20.  

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 20.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no. 10, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums.  

NoteThese small gold ornaments represent how varied personal ornamentation was in China in ancient times, whether made to ornament clothing or the hair.

The first ornament is similar to one excavated in 1979 from the tomb of Zhang Zhen, Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and now in the Nanjing Museum, illustrated by James C. Y. Watt et al., China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004, p. 28, no. 10, where it is dated Eastern Jin dynasty (AD 317-420) or earlier. A mirror-image pair, dated 1st century BC-1st century AD is illustrated by Catherine Delacour, De bronze, d'or et d'argent: Arts somptuaires de la Chine, Musée Guimet, 2001, p. 247. These are described as having been flattened on a thin lacquer ground that may have been applied to bronze. Another similar ornament is illustrated in Die Sammlung Pierre Uldry: Chinesisches Gold und Silber, Zurich, 1994, p. 138, no. 115. Also illustrated are two other ornaments similar to the third and fourth described ornaments, p. 139, pls. 116 and 117 (top).

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Lot 531. A parcel-gilt silver garment hook, Han dynasty or later; 6 5/8 in.(16.8 cm.) longEstimate USD 10,000 - USD 15,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.   

This elegant garment hook is cast with an openwork design of a pair of confronting birds at one end and a dragon at the other connected by interlocking scrolls that form a double-knot in the center.   

ProvenanceC. T. Loo & Co., New York, before 1941.
Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK82.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 23.      

LiteratureThe Toledo Museum of Art, Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Chinese Jewelry, Toledo, 1941, no. 68. 
C. T. Loo & Co., Exhibition of Chinese Arts, New York, 1941, no. 164
Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, pl. 82.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 85.  

ExhibitedToledo, Ohio, The Toledo Museum of Art, Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Chinese Jewelry, 9 February-2 March 1941, no. 68. 
New York, C. T. Loo & Co., Exhibition of Chinese Arts, 1 November 1941-30 April 1942, no. 164
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 82.
New York, Asia House, Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no. 35, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums

2019_NYR_18338_0532_000(a_pair_of_silver_taotie-mask_handles_eastern_han-six_dynasties_period)

 

Lot 532. A pair of silver taotie-mask handles, Eastern Han-Six Dynasties period, 3rd-4th century AD. Each 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm.) wideEstimate USD 8,000 - USD 12,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

Each mask is cast as a powerful taotie with thick brows, curved horns, and a pronounced nose above bared teeth from which issues a hook that suspends a loose ring. 

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK83.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 27.  

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 83.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection. The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 86.   

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 83

Note: These fittings are unusual in that they are made from silver rather than the more usual bronze or gilt bronze.

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Lot 537. A rare and unusual small silver garment hook, Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220); 1 ½ in. (3.8 cm.) long; weight 20.3 g. Estimate USD 30,000 - USD 50,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2019. 

The heavily cast hook is shaped as a horned and winged mythical beast with a fierce expression and sharp-clawed feet shown crouching on the button. The body and back are finely detailed with scales terminating in a long, curved tail ending in a bird's head hook. 

ProvenanceDr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK85.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 33.   

LiteratureBo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 85.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 388.    

ExhibitedWashington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 85.  

Note: The same kind of sculptural depiction of an animal can be seen on an equally small gold garment hook from a Western Han tomb, illustrated by Jay Xu ed., Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2017, p. 152, no. 66, which depicts a rabbit rather than the more fantastic animal seen on the present garment hook.

Christie'sMasterpieces of Early Chinese Gold and Silver, New York, 12 September 2019


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