Lot 1223. A rare bronze ritual food vessel, yu, late Shang dynasty, 12th-11th century BC; 6½ in. (16.5 cm.) diamEstimate 80,000 - USD 120,000. Price realised USD 87,500© Christie's Images Ltd 2013

The body has an S-profile and is finely cast with three large taotie masks flanked by dragons descending beside the notched flanges that separate the masks and continue up onto the waisted neck and flared mouth rim where they separate panels of three pairs of dragons confronted on a small animal mask, and interrupt a band of cicada-filled blades. Pairs of dragons are also shown confronted on and separated by flanges on the tall, flared foot. All of the decoration is reserved on leiwen grounds. The bronze has a mottled grey and milky green patina and areas of encrustation, Japanese wood box.

Provenance: Private family collection, Japan, acquired in the late Meiji/early Taisho period (1867-1925).

Note: The yu vessel shape was popular during the Anyang phase of Shang dynasty, but disappeared during the Western Zhou dynasty. A very similar yu is illustrated by J.A. Pope et al., The Freer Chinese Bronzes, Washington, 1967, vol. I, p. 343, pl. 61, where it is dated Shang dynasty, middle-late Anyang, 12th-11th century BC. A late Shang yu of this type with similar arrangement of decoration, but of more squat proportions and with less pronounced notched flanges dividing and separating the decoration on the body, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 27 - Bronze Ritual Vessels and Musical Instruments, Hong Kong, 2006, no. 8, and another example from the Tse Yuan Tang Collection was sold in these rooms, 16 September 2010, lot 818.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Furniture, Archaic Bronzes and Works of ArtNew York21 - 22 March 2013