Lot 44. A rare ox-head tureen and cover, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 12 3⁄4 in. (32.2 cm.) long. Estimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000. Price Realised USD 52,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2021.
The turned-up head naturalistically modeled with wide-set, bulging eyes and flaring nostrils beneath long, curved, dark gray horns, his mouth open revealing teeth, pink tongue and flesh-toned interior, his hide picked out in soft, mottled tones of grisaille.
Provenance: With The Chinese Porcelain Co., New York.
Literature: W.R. Sargent, Chinese Porcelain in the Conde Collection, Madrid, 2014, p. 266.
Exhibited: London, The Arts Council Gallery, The Animal in Chinese Art, 19 June-19 July 1968.
Note: While many other animal tureens for export mimicked European ceramic models, the ox-head seems to be a Chinese invention, as there are no known ox-head tureens made by European manufacturers. A romantic symbol of exoticism to Europeans, the ox is the second figure in the Chinese Zodiac, respected for its qualities of industriousness and patience and associated with water, agriculture and spring. Only a very small number of ox-head tureens are known in public collections or have appeared on the art market and are considered to be the most dramatic of the Chinese animal-form tureens with their highly sculptural horns and impressive snouts.
For similar examples from the Sowell and Mottahedeh Collections, see M. Cohen and W. MotleyMandarin and Menagerie Volume I: The James E. Sowell Collection, Cohen & Cohen, London, 2008, p. 178-179 (with stand); and from D. Howard and J. Ayers, China for the West, Vol. II, London and New York, 1978, p. 602.
The Tibor Collection was formed over decades, growing to encompass every category of Chinese export porcelain, from small, charming teawares to massive pairs of important jars. The collector had a deep appreciation for the magnificent porcelains made for New Spain as well as for the lifelike charm and elegance of Chinese porcelain figure and animal models.
Christie's. Chinese Export Art Featuring Property from the Tibor Collection, New York, 7 Jan - 20 Jan 2021