Lot 23. A celadon and russet jade carving of a camel, Tang - Ming dynasty. Length 2 1/4 in., 5.5 cm. Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
recumbent with the legs tucked close to the body, the pronounced ribs showing between the bent legs, two small humps rising along the spine, the neck resting against the shoulders and the head slightly bowed with the eyes open, the lips sealed and the ears relaxed, the fur finely incised at the forehead and hump, the stone a translucent pale green speckled on the surface with yellow-russet skin, pierced twice at the legs, wood stand (2)
Provenance: Alice Boney, New York, 17th March 1980.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 104.
Lot 24. A rare pair of celadon and russet jade interlocking rings, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Overall length 4 1/2 in., 11.5 cm. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
each ring of circular section incised with a ground of swirling qi and carved in high relief with either four or five prowling chilong, the dragons' sinuous limbs and bifurcated tails sweeping around the sides, their backs occasionally dipping beneath the surface and the head and forelimbs emerging at another point along the ring, the cadence of the rise and fall of the twisting bodies imbuing the rings with dynamism and movement, the stone a translucent pale celadon with a few fine russet veins and patches, Lucite stand (2)
Provenance: Spink & Son, London, 31st October 1984.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 260.
Literature: Roger Keverne, ed., Jade, London, 1995, p. 140, fig. 30.
Note:Jade 'handling pieces' in the form of interlocking rings are extremely rare, and the present set represents an early example of the type. The extraordinary skill in the carving, together with the quality of the stone, and the amount of jade that would have been reduced and discarded in the production of this set of rings all indicate the lavish circumstances under which they were produced. In addition to being sumptuous and novel, the present set appeals to lofty antiquarian sensibilities by incorporating Han dynasty-style chilong in high relief crawling across the surface. The interlocking rings would have thus conveyed the extreme wealth and refinement of its owner.
Compare a white jade pair of interlocking dragon-form rings, attributed to the Ming dynasty, sold at Christie's London, 13th June 1990, lot 485; a Qing dynasty pair of white jade interlocking rings carved with dragons in low relief, from the Arthur M. Sackler Collection, sold at Christie's New York, 18th March 2009, lot 397; and a Qing dynasty pale celadon jade set of four interlocking rings carved in low relief with dragons amidst clouds, in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, published in Chen Shen and Gu Fang, Haiwai bowuguan cang yuqi tuji zhi yi: Jianada Huangjia Andalüe bowuguan cang Zhongguo gudai yuqi / Chinese Jade Collections from Museums Outside China, No. 1: Ancient Chinese Jades from the Royal Ontario Museum, Beijing, 2016, pl. 199. See also a pair of Qianlong period interlocking rings carved with Liangzhu-style motifs and inscribed with couplets in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, and another in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, both published in James C. S. Lin, The Immortal Stone: Chinese Jades from the Neolithic Period to the Twentieth Century, London, 2009, fig. 24 and cat. no. 86, respectively.
Lot 31. A gray and celadon jade ewer and cover, Ming dynasty, 16th century. Overall length 4 1/2 in., 11.5 cm. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the compressed pear-shaped body supported on a conforming foot and sweeping up to a waisted neck and subtly galleried rim, set to one side with a gently curving upright spout connecting to the neck by a dragon-form strut, a long S-curved handle at the opposite side, the pinnacle of the handle pierced for attaching a chain, each side of the body carved in high relief with a raised teardrop-shaped panel enclosing a dragon and its young frolicking amidst swirling clouds, the motif repeated in low relief in a continuous pattern on the body, spout, and handle, a band of keyfret at the rim, prunus blossoms floating on waves around the foot, the domed cover carved in low relief with chilong prowling above a keyfret band and surmounted by an openwork Buddhist lion-form finial, the stone a pale celadon color with a large swath of translucent gray at one side and scattered opaque beige inclusions (2)
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 15th December 1981, lot 45.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 241.
Note: The form of this ewer derives from Islamic metalwork. Popular in the late Ming dynasty, Islamic-style ewers were produced in a variety of materials including porcelain, jade, and metal. See for example a white and russet jade example excavated from the Dingling Mausoleum, Beijing, and carved with a peach, wanzi, and shou character on the raised panels, illustrated in Gu Fang, Zhongguo chutu yuqi quanji / The Complete Collection of Jades Unearthed in China, vol. 1, Beijing, 2005, pl. 65. Compare also a slightly earlier spinach-green jade example with a floral spray carved into the lobed panel, with the remaining surface undecorated, illustrated in James C. Y. Watt, Chinese Jades in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, 1989, pl. 96. See also a mid to late Ming celadon jade example illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (II), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 206, carved allover with the 'Eight Immortals' and with elaborate fittings; a plain white jade ewer with a dragon-form handle from the collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, attributed to the 16th/17th century, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th November 2007, lot 1538; and a 16th-17th century celadon jade ewer carved with blossoming prunus trees in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, exhibited in Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco, Musée Guimet, Paris, 2016, cat. no. 110.
For contemporaneous examples in porcelain, compare the aubergine-glazed ewer with pierced dragon panels in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, illustrated in Soame Jenyns, Ming Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1953, pl. 50A. See also a group of mid-16th century kinrande-decorated ewers illustrated in John Ayers, The Baur Collection: Ceramics, vol. II, Geneva, 1969, pls. A177-179.
Lot 68. A large 'chicken bone' jade carving of a Daoist figure, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Height 14 in., 35.5 cm. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
standing with the legs straight, the slightly downcast face with bulging eyes, a long beard and mustache, wearing a two-tier headdress carved with dragons in high relief, dressed in a long robe with the tips of shoes peeking out from beneath, a belt with incised plaques wrapping around the broad belly, the left arm positioned with the hand at the hip holding a ruyi scepter, the right arm bent at the elbow with the hand raised and clasping a long tuft of hair, the mottled gray stone enhanced for the 'chicken bone' effect, secured to a wood stand
Provenance: English Private Collection.
Spink & Son, London, 3rd June 1985.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 264.
Lot 72. A beige and russet jade 'Buddhist lion' group, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Length 3 in., 7.7 cm. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the recumbent mother with a small cub clambering on her back, both with large round eyes, ruyi-shaped noses, and flattened ears, the fur in fine incised lines, the spines and musculature carved in low relief, the mother with mouth open to reveal two rows of teeth, the stone a warm beige with swaths of caramel.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 229.
Lot 73. A green and russet jade 'chilong' pouring vessel, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Length 4 in., 10.2 cm. Estimate 6,000 — 8,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the ovoid body rising to a slightly irregular incurved rim, one end of the rim extending to a concave surface for pouring, the opposite end with two openwork clambering chilong forming the handle, the front paws and jaws clutching the rim, the sinuous bodies and tails wrapping around the sides, the stone an even bluish-green with patches of russet, wood stand (2).
Provenance: Roger Keverne, London, 2nd February 1997.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 269.
Lot 96. A celadon and brown jade 'Boy and buffalo' group, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Length 2 1/2 in., 6.5 cm. Estimate 8,000 — 12,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the buffalo recumbent with its hind legs tucked under the body and the head resting on the folded front legs, the curved horns gently pressed against the shoulders, the tail swept to one side, a small boy crawling over the buffalo's back and holding a rope attached to the nose, the stone a mushroom-brown at the buffalo and turning to white where the boy is carved, wood stand (2)
Provenance: Bluett & Sons, London (according to label).
Spink & Son, London, 23rd December 1981.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 379.
Exhibited: An Exhibition of Fine Jade, Spink & Son, London, 1981, cat. no. 22.
Lot 102. A beige and russet jade 'Mythical beast' carving, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Length 3 5/8 in., 9.2 cm. Estimate 6,000 — 8,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
recumbent with head slightly turned, one paw raised towards the face with large eyes, a ruyi-shaped nose, and flat rectangular snout, the mouth open to expose the teeth and a recessed tongue, a curved row of bosses extending down the body to delineate the spine, the claws, fur, and curly eyebrows finely incised, the stone a deep honey gradating to beige.
Provenance: Collection of Alfred Salmony (1890-1958).
Collection of Frederick M. Mayer (d. 1974).
Christie's London, 24-25 June 1974, lot 175.
Spink & Son, London, 25th May 1983.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 123.
Lot 74. A white and brown jade carving of Liu Hai, Late Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Height 2 1/2 in., 6.4 cm. Estimate 2,000 — 3,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
crouching with a large three-legged toad pinned under the chest and right arm, the toad's head emerging by the boy's gleeful face, a string of coins clutched in the left hand, the body covered in a robe falling in thick folds over the bent arms and legs, the stone an even milky white with small brown inclusions at the face and legs.
Provenance: Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York, 25th April 1980.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 307.
Lot 92. A pale grey and black jade 'Mandarin ducks' group, 17th century. Length 2 3/4 in., 7 cm. Estimate 6,000 — 8,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the pebble carved in high relief with the two birds looking at each other and resting on a lotus pad, the larger grasping a bunch of lotus stems in the beak, one stem attached to a large blossom and another to an unfurling leaf, the smaller duck with a lotus bud, the base carved in low relief with a spray of swaying leaves, the pale gray stone with black patches.
Provenance: Collection of Baroness Marie-Louise von Callenberg (1901-1982).
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York, 1st August 1980.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 228.
Lot 94. A large white and brown jade 'Lotus pod' group, 17th century. Length 5 3/8 in., 13.7 cm. Estimate 10,000 — 15,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the larger pod facing upward and leaning against the smaller which is turned on its side, the seeds within each carefully modeled, thick stems snaking around the sides and beneath the pods issuing flowers in varying stages of bloom, long slender leaves, and broad pads, each element naturalistically rendered in high relief with minute details incised in fine lines, the stone an opaque creamy color with thin brown veins, the surface with a soft polish.
Provenance: Spink & Son, London, 23rd December 1981.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 239.
Exhibited: An Exhibition of Fine Jade, Spink & Son, London, 1981, cat. no. 16.
Lot 97. A 'chicken bone' jade 'Double ram' group, Ming dynasty, 17th century. Length 3 1/8 in., 7.9 cm. Estimate 6,000 — 8,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
finely carved with the larger ram and its young laying side by side, each emitting wisps of qi in the breath, the vapor moving in ruyi-form swirls between their bodies, their faces with gentle expressions, soft ears, and twisting horns, the fur carefully incised, the stone an opaque creamy white with gray veining, stand (2)
Provenance: Oriental Rarities (Alan Hartman), New York, 1st November 1982.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 256.
Sotheby's. Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, New York, 10 september 2019