Lot 2013. A bronze ritual tripod food vessel, ding, Late Shang dynasty, 12th-11th century BC; 8¼ in. (21 cm.) high. Estimate USD 100,000 - USD 150,000. Price Realized USD 725,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2014.
The vessel is raised on three columnar supports and is crisply cast in relief on the sides with three taotie masks positioned between the legs, and centered on and separated by flanges. The horns of the masks are formed by dragons, and the masks are on a leiwen ground below two bail handles that rise from the slightly inward-canted rim. A two-character inscription, Gao Tian, possibly a personal name, is cast on the wall of the interior. The patina is of dark grey color and there is some malachite encrustation, Japanese wood box.
Provenance: Acquired in Kansai, Japan in the 1940s, and thence by descent within the family.
Note: This well-cast, well-proportioned ding is related in form and style of cast decoration to a ding illustrated by R.W. Bagley in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1987, p. 469, no. 87. The columnar legs of the Sackler ding, however, are decorated with pendent blades below diagonal scroll bands, unlike the legs of the present vessel, which are undecorated.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 20 - 21 March 2014