Lot 86. Rare and important gilt bronze sculpture of Bhaisajyaguru Bouddha, Tibet, circa 15th century. Hauteur: 37 cm. (14 ½ in.). Estimate EUR 350,000 - EUR 550,000. Price realised EUR 387,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
PARIS.- On 9 June, the Asian Art department of Christie’s France will offer a selection of 273 lots for an estimate of between €5.6m and €8.4m, coming from private European and Asian collections covering more than 3,000 years of Far Eastern art. All the richness of Asian art and the different mediums in which it unfolds will highlighted, with the sale featuring important Buddhist art, archaic bronzes, ancient ceramics, Ming and Qing dynasty porcelain, jade sculptures, cloisonné enamels, lacquerware, and classical and modern Chinese paintings.
The highlight of the sale is a magnificent 15th century Tibetan statue of Buddha Bhaisajyaguru (Healing Buddha) from a private Dutch collection. He is depicted seated in Vajrasana, the main Buddhist meditation position. He holds the attributes of the 'Master Healer' in his hands: the myrobalan fruit, which symbolises the supreme remedy, and an alms bowl. His forehead is adorned with the urna, which represents the third eye, the vision into the divine world, his high knot is topped with the ushnisha and his fingers are webbed. These are three of the thirty-two great physical characteristics of Buddha. This rare and important statue is estimated to be worth between €350,000 and €550,000.
Lot 86. Rare and important gilt bronze sculpture of Bhaisajyaguru Bouddha, Tibet, circa 15th century. Hauteur: 37 cm. (14 ½ in.). Estimate EUR 350,000 - EUR 550,000. Price realised EUR 387,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Il est représenté assis en vajrasana sur une double base lotiforme, sa main droite présente le fruit myrobalan, sa main gauche repose sur ses genoux et tient un bol à aumônes. Il est vêtu d'un dhoti aux bords richement brodés dont les plis s'épanouissent en éventail entre ses jambes. Son visage est empreint d'une expression sereine et encadré de longs lobes d'oreille, son front est agrémenté de l'urna et son haut chignon surmonté de l'ushnisha.
Provenance: Mr. B. Groen, Amsterdam, circa 1968.
With Kunsthandel Aalderink, Amsterdam.
Private collection Amsterdam, from circa 1969.
Note: This rare gilt-bronze figure represents a Buddha as indicated by the robes, urna, ushnisha, benevolent countenance, distended earlobes, small snail-shell curls of hair, and webbed fingers. Typically represented by a painted disk or an inset cabochon jewel and often incorrectly termed a “third eye” or even a caste mark, the urna is the curl of white hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows from which issues a ray of light illuminating all worlds. The ushnisha or cranial protuberance atop the head, symbolizes the expanded wisdom that the Buddha gained at his enlightenment ; it serves as the Buddha’s diagnostic iconographic feature, as only Buddhas possess an ushnisha.
Mahayana Buddhism, the predominant form followed in traditional China, teaches that there are an infinite number of Buddhas, all of whom are deities. The Buddhas most widely worshipped in China, and thus those most frequently portrayed, are Shakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Amitabha (the Buddha of Infinite Light), and Bhaisajyaguru (the Medicine Buddha). The present lot is depicting Bhaisajyaguru (and in Chinese Yaoshi Fo). See an important gilt-bronze figure of buddha Shakyamuni, slightly larger in size (46.5 cm. high), dated early 15th century, sold in Christie's Paris, 13 June 2018, lot 212.
According to traditional iconographic conventions, the Medicine Buddha, whether standing or seated, is portrayed with the left hand held at abdomen level, palm up, and with the right hand lowered, palm out, in the varadamudra. In many representations as in the present sacred image, he holds a single myrobalan fruit between the thumb and index finger of the lowered right hand. In the left hand the Medicine Buddha typically holds a small jar or a small bowl containing amrita, the nectar of the myrobalan fruit and considered the nectar of immortality. Given that the Medicine Buddha is associated with the Paradise of Pure Lapis Lazuli and that his symbolic color is blue, the medicine jar is often tinted blue in paintings and in painted sculptures.
Like all Buddhas, the Medicine Buddha is an enlightened being who has entered nirvana and who shows unbiased compassion for all living beings. In particular, he protects all beings from illnesses—whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—just as he also protects them from other dangers and obstacles; in addition, he helps them to eradicate the three poisons attachment , hatred , and ignorance —which are the source of all passions, delusions, illnesses, and dangers.
The Medicine Buddha’s teachings are transmitted in the Bhaisajyaguru-vaiduryaprabharaja Sutra best-known in English as the Medicine Buddha Sutra, which characterizes him as a bodhisattva who made twelve great vows that he pledged to keep upon entering nirvana and attaining Buddhahood. (A bodhisattva is a benevolent being who has attained enlightenment but who has selflessly postponed entry into nirvana in order to assist other sentient beings in gaining enlightenment and thereby release from the samsara cycle of birth and rebirth.)
On achieving Buddhahood, he became the Buddha of the eastern paradise of Vaiduryanirbhasa, or Paradise of Pure Lapis Lazuli There, two bodhisattvas symbolizing the light of the sun and of the moon attend him: Suryaprabha symbolizing the sun, and Candraprabha emblemizing the moon. In temples dedicated to him, the Medicine Buddha sometimes is accompanied by twelve warriors, six at each side; holding spears and dressed in military armor, they symbolize the Medicine Buddha’s vows to help others.
According to the Medicine Buddha Sutra, the twelve great vows that Bhaisajyaguru made on attaining full enlightenment are
1—To illuminate countless realms through his radiance, enabling anyone to become a Buddha
2—To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his lapis lazuli light
3—To provide sentient beings with whatever material needs they require
4—To correct heretical views and inspire sentient beings to follow the Path of the Bodhisattva
5—To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they previously failed in such attempts
6—To heal beings born with deformities, illnesses, or pain
7—To relieve the destitute and the sick
8—To assist women who wish to be reborn as men to achieve their desired rebirth
9—To heal mental afflictions and delusions
10—To free the oppressed from suffering
11—To relieve those who suffer from severe hunger and thirst
12—To clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold and mosquito bites
Another highlight of the sale is a magnificent gilt bronze ritual bell dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and estimated at €400,000-600,000. Called bianzhong, these bells were essential in the conduct of Confucian ritual ceremonies at imperial altars, official banquets and during processions. Usually used with jade (qing) chimes, the tones struck by these bells had cosmological significance and were considered a means of invoking the Immortals.
Lot 55. An important ritual gilt bronze bell, bianzhong, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Hauteur: 28 cm. (11 in.); Poids: 18,560 kg. Estimate EUR 400,000 - EUR 600,000. Price realised EUR 800,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Les côtés sont légèrement renflés, elle est surmontée d'une arche de nuages stylisés formant la prise pour la suspendre, chaque face est décorée de cinq registres horizontaux de nuages, vagues et rivets en relief alternés, encadrant une tablette verticale bordée de ruyi. La partie supérieure est ornée d'une frise de nuages, tortue et phénix, des cartouches de dragons dans les nuages sur les côtés et une bande de petits nuages en volutes stylisés souligne la base. Le dessus de la cloche est orné de deux couples de phénix.
Provenance: Christie's London, 29 March 1966, lot 171.
A Rare and Important Imperial Gilt Bronze Bell
Rosemary Scott, Senior International Academic Consultant, Asian Art
This extremely rare imperial gilt-bronze bell is of the type known as bianzhong 編鐘. It is finely cast in high relief and of oval section with a plaque mounted on a lotus stand front and back, and a vigorous five-clawed dragon chasing a flaming pearl on each side. Bands of clouds or waves and bosses encircle the bell, while on the flattened upper surface of the bell a crane and phoenix are cast on either side of the arches, which protrude from the top as if from waves, and from which the bell would have been suspended. The largest of these arches is decorated with dense clouds.
Music with bianzhong bells, was regarded as essential in conducting Confucian rituals at the Imperial altars and other state ceremonies, including ascension ceremonies when a new emperor took the throne, formal banquets and other court assemblies, and during processions of the Imperial Guard. Such bells were usually assembled in sets of sixteen, providing twelve musical tones with four repeated notes in lower or higher octaves. The twelve Chinese musical tones are arranged in the following sequence: Huangzhong (黃鍾 1st), Dalü (大呂 2nd), Taicu (太蔟 3rd), Jiazhong (夾鍾 4th), Guxi (姑 洗 5th), Zhonglü (仲呂 6th), Ruibin (蕤 賓 7th), Linzhong (林 鐘 8th), Yize (夷 則 9th), Nanlü (南呂 10th), Wuyi (無 射 11th), and Yingzhong (應 鐘 12th). In Chinese musicology, the twelve main tones alternately provide yang 陽, positive, and yin 陰, negative, notes. The four repeated bells of lower octaves, making up the total of sixteen, are Bei Yize 倍夷 則, Bei Nanlü 倍南呂, Bei Wuyi 倍無 射, and Bei Yingzhong 倍應 鐘. These bianzhong bells are clapperless and were played by being hung on racks and struck with a wooden mallet to produce the appropriate sound. The racks of bells were frequently paired with racks of qing 磬chiming stones or lithophones, which were played by suspending them on a silk cord and striking them with a wooden mallet.
Bells played an important part in formal Chinese court music over many centuries, while music itself was regarded as of great significance.
‘Music and dance are such important elements of political life that they should not be squandered on entertainment’.
This statement is attributed to Confucius (Kong Fuzi 孔夫子, 551 to 427 BC), who believed that music had an extremely important role in society. The later, 3rd century BC, Confucian philosopher Xunzi (荀子, c. 298 – 238 BC) professed the view that a wise ruler could influence his subjects by ensuring that they listened to appropriate music. He was of the opinion that musical tones were based on the responses of the human heart to external stimuli. Ritual and music came to be regarded as twin instruments of government.
In the Zhou dynasty Chinese scholars developed a classification system for musical instruments. This system, which appears in the 3rd century BC Zhouli (周禮Rites of Zhou) and also in the Shujing (書經 Classic of History) is known as the bayin (八音 eight tone) and is based upon the resonating materials from which the instruments were made – skin, clay, metal, stone, gourd, wood, silk, and bamboo. This division into eight categories complemented cosmological assumptions and concepts like the ‘eight compass points’ and the ‘eight trigrams’ (八卦 bagua). The Shujing is regarded as one of the Five Confucian Classics (Wu jing 五經), along with the Shijing (詩經Classic of Poetry), the Liji (禮記 Book of Rites), the Yijing (易經 Book of Changes) and the Chunqiu (春秋 Spring and Autumn Annals). Some writers, such as the Han dynasty historian Sima Qian (司馬遷 c. 145 – c. 86 BC), referred to a sixth classic, the Yuejing (樂經 Classic of Music), which they believed to have been destroyed in the notorious ‘burning of the books and burying of the scholars’ 焚書坑儒 fengshu gengru, supposedly carried out in 213 BC on the orders of Qin Shi Huang. There is debate as to whether the Yuejing actually existed, but it is nevertheless significant that music was regarded as of sufficient importance to have been the subject of one of the Confucian classics. It certainly appears to have been the case that as early as the 1st century BC, during the Han dynasty, the Yuefu 樂府 – Imperial Music Bureau - was established, and this office, in various incarnations, continued to the end of the imperial era.
The Liji (Book of Rites), which in addition to being one of the Five Confucian Classics was one of the Three Ritual Classics (San li 三禮), was a compilation of descriptions of rituals written during the late Warring States (5th century-221 BC) and the Western Han period ( 206 BC-AD 8). This text noted the Confucian principle that ceremonies and music were among: ‘the instruments by which the minds of the people are assimilated, and good order in government made to appear’. This view continued to be reflected in court music down the centuries. It is, therefore, not surprising to see ritual music portrayed in depictions of another famous Confucian text, the Classic of Filial Piety.
The Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing孝經), the text of which was probably written during the early Han dynasty, purports to relate a conversation between Confucius and one of his students Zengzi (曾子 505–435 BC), in which Confucius advises on the correct way to behave towards a senior person, such as a parent. The main thrust of the text is that if a person honours and serves their parents, then they will also honour and serve their ruler, and this will lead to a harmonious society. In one section of a handscroll by the Northern Song painter Li Gonglin 李公麟 (AD 1049-1106) – now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York - the artist illustrates chapter 16 of the Classic of Filial Piety. Li Gonglin chose to illustrate the part of the chapter which says: ‘In the ancestral temple he manifests the utmost reverence, showing that he does not forget is parents.’ Here the emperor, accompanied by the empress and an ‘officer of prayer’, is shown performing sacrifices to his ancestors, and, in the foreground, can be seen the racks of bells and the racks of chiming stones which would have provided some of the music to accompany this important ritual. It is thought that this painting dates to AD 1085, the year which marked the death of Emperor Shenzong (神宗r. 1067–1085) and the accession of Emperor Zhezong (哲宗r. 1085–1100). The same section of the Classic of Filial Piety is depicted on a more formal and colourfully rendered painting in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. It was previously believed that the calligraphy on this was that of Emperor Gaozong (高宗AD 1107-1187) himself and that the painter was Ma Hezhe (馬和之fl. AD 1131-1189), but the National Palace Museum now dates the work to the 13th century. Nevertheless, the racks of bells and chiming stones are very much in evidence for the performance of this important sacrifice to the imperial ancestors. Three of each are shown. It is interesting to note that on both these Song dynasty paintings the bells all appear to be of the same size. This is also the case with surviving Ming and Qing dynasty bianzhong bells, where it is clear that although the bells all appear to be the same size, they are in fact of different thicknesses and it is this which determines their different tones.
Bronze bells have a very long history in China and have been found at a number of Bronze Age sites, including the famous Shang dynasty tomb of Lady Fu Hao 婦好, who was consort to King Wu Ding (武丁r. 1250 - 1192 BC). When her tomb was excavated in 1976 it was found to contain 23 bronze bells of the type known as nao 鐃bells. However, the most magnificent set of early bells was excavated in 1978 from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng 曾侯乙at Leigudun, Suixian in Hubei province. This tomb dates to about 433 BC and contained particularly fine bronzes and lacquers. Among the most spectacular finds from this tomb is a set of 65 bells, comprised of 64 bianzhong and one bo bell. The set of 64 bells was mounted on lacquered wooden frames supported by elaborate bronze mounts. They are hung at 3 levels and divided into 8 groups. It has been estimated that it would have taken 5 musicians working simultaneously to play this set of bells. All the bells produce two tones, depending on where they are struck with the wooden mallet. Thus, there is material evidence that in the Zhou dynasty there was already an established tradition of extravagant racks of bells, which could be played for court rituals - a tradition which was continued to the end of the imperial period.
Not surprisingly, there were special government agencies responsible court music. In the Ming dynasty, the Music Office (Jiaofansi) was established under the auspices of the Board of Rites, and later the Court of Imperial Sacrifices (Taichangsi 太常司). The music performed for imperial sacrifices and court assemblies was known as yayue 雅樂 (elegant music), and this term specifically alluded to the music of the Confucian golden age (the Zhou dynasty), which each later dynasty in turn claimed to be reviving - although the earliest documents providing details of yayue appear to date to the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). The type of music performed during sacrifices at the first and second rank altars, and at the three major court assemblies – for the New Year, at the winter solstice and on imperial birthdays - was known as zhonghe shaoyue 中和韶樂. The name referred to the shao (beautiful/harmonious) music associated with the legendary Emperor Shun, although the name zhonghe shaoyue first seems to have appeared in the early Ming dynasty, during the Hongwu reign (1368-98). Indeed, the Hongwu Emperor was pivotal in the shaping of Ming dynasty court music and set up four court music offices. The most important of these was the State Sacrificial Office, while the others were responsible for Eunuch Music, Entertainment Music, and Palace Women’s Music.
It seems likely that when Aisin Gioro Nurgaci 愛新覺羅 努爾哈赤 (AD 1559-1626), declared himself khan and heir to the Jin dynasty in 1616 he adopted Chinese court music as well as the display of imperial regalia (lubu 鹵 簿). Certainly, there were orders issued for ritual music to accompany the sacrifice to Heaven and the New Year rituals in the years 1623, 1632 and 1634. In 1636 regulations for the imperial equipage listed 84 musicians and the playing of 15 kinds of music in the imperial processions. After they ‘crossed the wall’ and entered Beijing, the Manchus of the newly established Qing dynasty speedily sought the services of the surviving members of the Ming court music groups to perform the dayue (大 樂) Great Music necessary for the conquerors’ symbolic demonstration of the beginning of the new dynasty – their first sacrifice to Heaven. The account of the Manchus first sacrifice to Heaven in the Veritable Records makes it clear that Ming music was played, and in the first part of the Qing dynasty all the ritual music was comprised of variations on Ming ritual music.
A small number of bianzhong bells similar to the current example are known. A Ming dynasty bell of identical design, but slightly smaller size, than the current instrument is now displayed in the Temple of Heaven, Beijing. It has been reported that this bell, amongst other treasures, was removed from the Temple of Heaven in 1901, and that it was later deposited by a British officer, James A. Douglas, of the 2nd Bengal Lancers, in an Officers’ Club in India, where it remained until 1994, at which time it was returned to China by General B. C. Joshi. The bell went on display in the Temple of Heaven on 21 April, 1995. In June 2010 a similar bell, which was missing its striking plates, was sold by Sotheby’s Paris, and in May 2016 a similar bell, also devoid of its striking plates was sold by Lyon & Turnbull. In March 2015 a complete bell of the same size and design as the current bell was sold by Freeman’s, and in September of the same year a pair of similar bells were sold by the same auction house. The current bell appears to be the same one sold by Christie’s London on 21 March 1966, lot 171.
Several bianzhong bells dating to the Kangxi and Qianlong reigns of the Qing dynasty are known in international museum collection, including a complete set of sixteen bells dating to the Qianlong reign, preserved in the Forbidden City, Beijing (illustrated in Daily Life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing and Lu Yanzhen (eds.) Rosemary Scott and Erica Shipley (trans.), Viking, Harmondsworth, England, 1988, p. 39, pl. 43), and a small number have also appeared at auction, such as the Kangxi bell dated by inscription to 1716 sold by Tessier and Sarrou, Paris, in January 2020.
From an important Asian collection, collectors will be able to acquire a majestic tripod bronze incense burner from the Shang Dynasty (12th-11th century BC). This superb 33-century-old object has acquired a beautiful green patina over the years and its body is decorated with large Taotie masks. Similar models are displayed in the Hunan Provincial Museum and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. It is estimated at 300,000-500,000€.
Lot 15. A rare and important bronze tripod ritual food vessel, liding, Shang dynasty, 12th–11th century BC. Hauteur: 20,8 cm. (8 1/8 in.). Estimate EUR 300,000 - EUR 500,000. Price realised EUR 920,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Il repose sur trois pieds tubulaires simplement rehaussé de deux anses en forme de U inversés. Le corps est orné de trois grands masques de taotie aux yeux protubérants sur fond de leiwen centrés sur chacun des pieds. Les yeux sont surmontés de sourcils stylisés et de larges cornes. Deux dragons Kui aux dents acérées sont disposés verticalement entre chaque masque de taotie. Le bronze est enrichi d'une belle patine de couleur verte. Une inscription est incisée à l'intérieur bing fu gui.
Provenance: Private Japanese Collection, pre-1950s.
Sir Esler Maberley (GCMG, OBE) (1897-1977), the first British Ambassador to Japan after the second world war, 1952-1957.
Sotheby's London, 24 June 1958, lot 90.
H.G.W. Peters, acquired from Bluett & Sons, London, 25 July 1958.
Mr and Mrs S. Feinberg, Boston, acquired from Eskenazi Limited, London. March 2004, and thence by descent in the Feinberg family.
Asian collection, acquired from Eskenazi Limited, London.
Literature: Wu Zhengfeng, ed., Shang Zhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng (Shang Zhou Bronzes Inscriptions and Images), volume 2, Shanghai, 2012, p. 221, number 946.
Eskenazi Limited, Room for study: fifty scholar's objects, London, 31 October-29 November 2019, pp. 44-47, catalogue no.11.
Liding Sacral Food Vessel with Taotie Décor
Chinese; Shang dynasty, 12th–11th century BC
The bronze ritual vessels produced during China’s Shang dynasty 商朝 (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC) rank among the finest examples of bronze casting the world has ever seen, as witnessed by this superb liding tripod 鬲鼎. Not only are the forms of Shang vessels intriguing and satisfying, but such vessels exhibit a wealth of complex, integrally cast, surface decoration unknown in bronzes from other civilizations.
A sacral vessel for use in a funerary ceremony, this exceptionally well-cast bronze liding 鬲鼎 tripod has three subtly defined lobes that join and then resolve themselves in the circular mouth rim from which rise two diametrically opposed loop handles. The vessel stands on three long, undecorated, columnar legs. A low-relief taotie mask 饕餮紋 dramatically embellishes each of the vessel’s lobes, the masks centered one above each leg, so that the legs appear to issue from the taotie’s mouth. The taotie masks, whose surfaces are lightly modulated, portray the fierce beast frontally and depict its upper jaw, flared nostrils, prominent nose bridge, bulging eyes, and large C-horns. A pair of downward-facing kui dragons, or kuilong 夔龍, flanks each taotie mask, each dragon presented in profile and shown with a long snout, bulging eye, short body, and upturned tail. The relief decoration appears against an integrally cast background of leiwen 雷紋, or small, squared spirals. The continuous vertical lines that appear at the outside edge of each mask unit not only clearly distinguish one lobe from the next but reveal where the individual mold segments were joined during casting.
Bronze casting came fully into its own during the Shang dynasty with the production of sacral vessels intended for use in funerary ceremonies. Although their exact use remains obscure, such ritual vessels include ones for food, wine, and water; those for food and wine, the types most commonly encountered among Shang bronzes, group themselves into storage vessels, heating and cooking vessels, and presentation and serving vessels. This liding likely served as a vessel for cooking grain, perhaps millet or sorghum, as an offering to the spirit of the deceased, though it might well have been used for serving such an offering rather than for preparing it.
As Robert Bagley has noted, modern authors often characterize lobed vessels such as the present one by the hybrid term liding 鬲鼎 to indicate that it stands somewhere between the tripod li 鬲 and the round, or circular, ding 鼎, both of which were food cooking and serving vessels and both of which trace their ancestry to ceramics from the late Neolithic period 新石器時代. In practice, however, no sharp dividing line can be drawn between li and ding, as examples can easily be found to represent any shape intermediate between those with deep, clearly articulated lobes and those with shallow ones. There is on the other hand a clear-cut distinction between lobed ding and round ding, the distinction emphasized by the different placement of the décor schemes applied to the two shapes. Round ding are typically decorated with taotie masks set between the legs. However, as that placement of the masts is ill-suited to lobed vessels, which have preferred axes aligned with the three legs, taotie masks are centered over the legs of li and lobed ding vessels.
The most important decorative motif on vessels from the Shang dynasty is the taotie 饕餮 mask, as witnessed by this outstanding liding vessel. As seen here, the mask typically boasts a ferocious feline-like face presented frontally; the animal’s body, if depicted, is shown in reduced scale and extends laterally outward from the face. On this vessel, the animal’s body has been supplanted by the pair of downward-facing kui dragons 夔龍 that flank each mask. In rare instances the taotie mask may be presented against an otherwise unembellished ground, but, as here, the mask and other decorative motifs are typically set against an intricate leiwen 雷文 background. It is likely that the taotie mask and other motifs that enliven these sacral bronzes had meaning for the people of the Shang dynasty; in the absence of contemporaneous written records detailing possible meanings, however, we cannot know precisely what symbolism those motifs might have held, if any. Speculation abounds, but precise identification necessarily must await discovery of hard evidence from the people who created and used them.
The taotie mask appears as decoration on bronze vessels from all periods of the Shang dynasty and even into the early Western Zhou period 西周早期 (c. 1050 BC–771 BC). That its principal decorative motifs rise in relief against the leiwen background dates this liding to the last phase of the Shang and suggests that it was made at or near Anyang, Henan province 河南省安陽市, the last Shang capital. The decoration on vessels from earlier in the Shang would not have risen in relief but would have been depicted with linear elements of varying width but still set against a leiwen ground; such vessels would have been more self-contained, their surfaces smooth and their decorative elements flush with the vessel surface. By contrast, vessels from the very end of the Shang would show even bolder designs, the decorative elements rising in even higher relief from the vessel surface, and the taotie masks likely bifurcated by a flange extending from the vessel lip though the center of the taotie and to the top of the associated leg.
Sacral vessels from the Shang dynasty were used in ceremonies honoring the spirits of deceased ancestors. As such, many bear integrally cast, dedicatory inscriptions 銘文 that might include a clan symbol, the name of the person in whose ceremonies they presumably were used, and sometimes other emblems, as well. Such inscriptions’ so-called bronze-script characters 金文字 relate to contemporaneous oracle-bone-script characters 甲骨文字—that is, characters carved on ox scapulae or turtle plastrons as part of a divination process employed in Shang times—and they are the direct ancestors of modern written Chinese.
Integrally cast with the vessel itself, the inscription on the interior wall of this liding includes three graphs arranged in a vertical column, Fu 父, Gui 癸, and another graph, at the top, whose modern form, pronunciation, and meaning have been variously interpreted. Although some have interpreted the first graph—which superficially resembles a lobed vessel seen in profile and with a “single quotation mark” on either side, just below the top—as the ancient form of the modern character Bing 丙, others regard it as a clan sign, or totem, and designate it with a small white square □, indicating that both its meaning and its pronunciation are unknown at present. The same graph, which appears on a late Shang or early Western Zhou bronze ritual he 盉 wine vessel—the Ran Fu Bing He冉父丙盉—has more recently been read as Ran 冉 and interpreted as a clan sign; from a distinguished European collection, the he vessel sold at Christie’s, New York, in March 2021 (Lot 805). The second and third graphs in the inscription read Fu 父 and Gui 癸 and refer to Father Gui; thus, it can reasonably be assumed that the inscription indicates that the vessel was dedicated to Father Gui of the Ran Clan and that it likely was used in his funerary ceremonies.
In terms of casting, unlike the artisans of most early civilizations, who employed the lost-wax technique in casting bronzes, Chinese foundrymen of the Shang dynasty utilized the so-called piece-mold casting technique in producing their ritual vessels, which yielded the exceptional quality evident in this liding. Those early Chinese workers first produced a clay model in the shape of the desired vessel, carving the decoration into the clay model’s moist surfaces, after which the model was fired. Casting molds were prepared by pressing moist clay segments against the fired model; once all had been prepared, the mold segments were fired. In preparing to cast the vessels, the mold segments were properly registered and joined together around an inner core of fired clay. (As previously mentioned, the continuous vertical lines that appear at the outside edge of each mask unit reveal where the individual mold segments were joined together). Once assembled, mold was tightly bound together and inverted, so that the vessel’s legs pointed upward and the vessel lip and handles faced downward, after which the molten bronze was introduced through sprues, or tubular passageways; air within the mold and any gases escaping from the molten bronze vented though a corresponding set of flues. Once the mass had cooled, the mold was removed, releasing the bronze vessel. The inversion of the mold ensured that the molten bronze would reach the very bottom of the mold, so that there would be no bubble flaws on the lip or handles of the finished vessel; any bubbles that did interrupt the surfaces likely would appear as casting flaws on the vessel’s less visible underside and legs.
The advantage of the piece-mold technique is that, unlike the lost-wax technique, it gave the Shang bronze casters direct access to the casting mold’s interior faces, which allowed them to correct any flaws in the decorative designs and perhaps even to embellish them further, which permitted precision casting of exceptionally fine design elements, thus giving rise to the extraordinarily detailed, exceptionally precise designs integrally cast on this bronze. Of course, in the post-casting finishing of the vessels, any adhering mold fragments had to be cleaned from away, and the surfaces had to be polished and, in some instances, touched up a bit. But what must be kept firmly in mind is that the decoration was integrally cast with the vessels themselves, rather than chased or chiseled after casting. The very intricate surface decoration of Chinese bronze vessels, particularly the leiwen, or background patterns perfectly illustrate the sophistication of Chinese casting methods; in fact, they stand in marked contrast to the often smooth, undecorated surfaces of bronzes produced with the lost-wax technique.
This liding was published as early as 1958; moreover, it has an enviable and continuous record of provenance dating back to 1950 and earlier and has been treasured by collectors in England, the United States, Japan, and other East Asian countries. Closely related vessels are in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA (1944.57.19), the Saint Louis Art Museum (288:55), the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the U.S. National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, DC (S1987.304), and the Sumitomo Collection 住友コレクション at the Sen-oku Hakuko Kan, Kyoto 京都泉屋博古館. Another closely related liding from a Japanese private collection sold at Sotheby’s, New York, on 11 September 2019 (Lot 504). The related vessel excavated in 1990 from Tomb M160 at Guojiazhuangxi, Anyang, Henan province 河南省安陽郭家莊西M160號墓地出土 is now in the care of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 北京中國社會科學院. Another comparable example is in the collection of the Hunan Museum, Changsha 湖南省長沙市湖南省博物馆.
We appreciate works of art for their beauty and for the invaluable information they convey about the peoples and cultures that produced them. We often forget, however, that many works can tell us as much about a civilization’s level of technological sophistication as about its artistic and aesthetic sensibilities. In particular, those works whose creation required high temperatures, whether for firing, in the case of ceramics, or smelting, in the case of bronze, are true measures of an early civilization’s technological prowess.
Apart from their function as sacral vessels and apart from the information they convey about early Chinese culture, beliefs, and funerary practices, we admire Chinese bronzes for their inventive shapes, bold decoration, and precise casting, as witnessed this superb liding vessel. In fact, it is the precision of the casting, from the majestic vessels themselves to their intricately embellished surfaces, that marks Chinese bronze ritual vessels as truly and wondrously exceptional; in that context, this liding stands as a telling comment on the exceptionally high level of technological sophistication present already in the earliest phases of Chinese historical development.
Robert D. Mowry 毛瑞
Alan J. Dworsky Curator of Chinese Art Emeritus,
Harvard Art Museums, and
Senior Consultant, Christie’s
The sale will also include some magnificent paintings by leading Chinese artists, such as Fu Baoshi's (1904-1965) Snowy landscape, which skilfully navigates between abstraction and figuration. This work, priced at €300,000-500,000, was acquired directly from the artist in the 1940s-1950s and has been kept by the same family until today. Also in the Paintings section is a colourful work by Lin Fengmian (1900-1991), Flowers, from the same collection, estimated at €80,000-120,000. Finally, the delicate Washing the white elephant, attributed to the fabulous Cui Zizhong (died 1644) will also be auctioned. The theme of this Buddhist-inspired work was a favourite of this Beijing scholar, who chose to make a living from his artistic talents rather than follow his intended career as a civil servant. This work is also estimated at €80,000-120,000.
Lot 98. Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), Snowy landscape, Monté en rouleau, encre et couleur sur papier. Inscrit et signé avec deux cachets de l'artiste, daté du sixième mois de l'année cyclique Bingshu (1946). Dimensions: 128 x 41 cm. (50 3/8 x 16 ¼ in.). Estimate EUR 300,000 - EUR 500,000. Price realised EUR 680,000 © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist in the 1940s-1950s, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Note: Fu Baoshi did this painting in 1946, while he was living in Sichuan's Jingangpo. Fu was in love with Sichuan, a beautiful and mystical place, thus created numerous magnificent landscapes of the Sichuan mountains and their unique atmospheres.
In this painting, a scholar is walking with his attendant on a winding road in this fantastic scenery of the mountains partly hidden by the white snow and fog.This is a typical view of the area near Jingangpo. This painting was done in a bird's eye view perspective - the small characters act as a window, which enables the viewer to peer through, and behold the vast landscape. It is interesting to note that this present painting was dedicated by the artist to Ms Lan Meiqing which seems to be a Chinese name for a European lady.
Lot 106. Cui Zizhong (Attributed to, ?-1644), Washing the white elephant. Monté et encadré, encre et couleur sur soie. Colophon par le collectionneur Di Pingzi (1872-1941), signé avec deux cachets. Dimensions de la peinture: 122x 57 cm. (48 x 22 ½ in.) Dimensions avec le cadre: 159 x 83 cm. (62 5/8 x 32 ¾ in.). Estimate EUR 80,000 - EUR 120,000. Price realised EUR 206,250. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Provenance: Previously from the private collection of a European businessman who worked in Shanghai in the 1930s and moved to the USA in the late 1940s.
Private collection of a former senior curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in the family since 1950s.
Literature: Special issue in Asahi shimbun-sha (one of the leading newspapers in Japan), Tokyo, 5 December 1928.
General catalogue of famous T'ang, Sung, Yuan and Ming paintings exhibited in Tokyo,Toso gen min meiga taikan, 2 vols, Tokyo: Otsuka Kogeisha, 1929, pl.134.
Andrews, Julia Frances, 'The Significance of Style and Subject Matter in the Painting of Cui Zizhong', PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1984, p.190-192, pl. 82.
Exhibited: Chinese famous T'ang, Sung, Yuan and Ming paintings, the Tokyo Imperial Museum (Tokyo-fu Bijutsukan), 24 November to 20 December 1928.
Attributed to Cui Zizhong , Washing the Elephant
Julia F. Andrews, Distinguished University Prof. of the History of Art Department, The Ohio State University
The seventeenth century Beijing artist Cui Zizhong (1597-1644), a native of Laiyang, Shandong, was renowned for the antique flavor of his eccentric figural compositions and believed to embody such qualities in his person and character1. He was a Confucian scholar who, like many aspiring officials in the last decades of the Ming, did not pass the jinshi examination to attain a government position but instead lived on his artistic talents. Cui Zizhong was closely allied with scholar-officials who unsuccessfully sought to restore effective rule to the declining Ming dynasty, and his death of starvation when the dynasty fell in 1644 is thought to offer tragic evidence of his stubborn virtue. The late Ming poet Qian Qianyi (1582-1664), who met him in 1638, wrote: “His appearance was pure and antique; his speech simple and unadorned. He didn’t look like a contemporary man, and his painting was also modelled on the ancients.”2 Critics of the time compared him favorably to a contemporary figure painter, Chen Hongshou, in the pairing “Nan Chen, Bei Cui” (Chen of the South, Cui of the North). Nevertheless, his surviving works, which date between 1622 and 1640, are rare, in part because some examples, like this painting, have been misattributed by later collectors to earlier masters.
Cui Zizhong’s paintings often take spiritual cleansing or purification as their theme. Among the religious and literary subjects for which he was known was the Buddhist-inspired “Washing the Elephant,” which he painted in numerous different versions, each with a slightly different setting or subsidiary figures. A signed version of the composition in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, with five figures and a white elephant assembled under a broad-leafed tree, is quite similar to the present painting3 (fig.1). The artist inscribed it with the claim that his version followed a Jin dynasty (265-419 c.e.) album of 53 leaves. A red-robed character, a string of prayer beads on one arm and a sword balanced on the other hand, with shoulder-length hair sweeping down from the bald protrusion on his pate, supervises two grooms who clean the elephant to his left. With his head tilted to his right, he seems unworldly and aloof. In Ming illustrations of this iconography, the figure is usually identified as the bodhisattva Manjusri, a personification of Buddhist wisdom. In addition to the oddly introverted facial expressions of the figures, the robes that envelop them are delineated with strangely mannered drapery strokes, evoking the “trembling brush” of painting masters of the distant past. The present painting is similar to the Taipei picture, with a bald, bearded figure at rear and a small, crowned figure who bows in homage before the bodhisattva, but expands the group by additional three figures: a second, white-robed bodhisattva, probably Samantabhadra; a boy hoisting a large alms bowl over his head; and a turbaned man holding a neatly tied pile of leaves, a sutra written on the exotic leaves found in the Buddhist homeland.
(fig.1). The collection of National Place Museum, Taipei.
By way of further comparison, a monochromatic illustration to the Diamond Sutra painted by Cui in 1631, now in the Shanghai Museum, similarly features a Buddha with an egg-shaped cranial protrusion who is accompanied by an attendant bearing a bodhi-leaf sutra. The antique bronze vessels the grooms use to pour water on the elephant resemble those in a 1638 Cui Zizhong painting of Ni Zan Washing the Tong Tree in the National Palace Museum. The eccentric dark outlines of the tree branches and trunks, schematic ink shading, pinwheel shaped vegetation, and opaque blue and green in-painting of the leaves are comparable to those seen in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Xu Jingyang Ascending to Heaven (fig.2), another subject for which Cui was widely well-known. Moreover, although the main character of the Cleveland work, Xu Jingyang, is a Daoist immortal, the artist has depicted him in a red robe and right-leaning posture similar to the red-robed bodhisattva of Washing the Elephant. Finally, the progression of three trees at left of the painting suggests in rather schematic terms a grove that recedes into the distance. This compositional device resembles a more complex outdoor setting visible along the right edge of Cui’s latest dated painting, Appreciating Antiquities Under the Tong Tree of 1640 in the National Palace Museum. The latter work experiments further with crinkled drapery folds. On the basis of stylistic similarities to these and other works, this painting may be attributed to Cui Zizhong. Among firmly attributed versions of Washing the Elephant is another painting previously attributed to a Song master in the National Palace Museum 4. Hanging scroll paintings by Cui Zizhong are found in public collections in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Cleveland, and Princeton. Examples of Cui’s Washing the Elephant composition may also be found in the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington 5.
(fig.2). Cui Zizhong (Chinese, 1574-1644), Xu Jingyang Moving His Family, 1644, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1961.90.
This painting was exhibited in a major exhibition of more than 600 masterpieces of Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasty Chinese painting held at the Tokyo Prefectural Museum and Imperial Household Museum in the fall of 1928. The exhibition’s legacy is best-known today from its exhibition catalogue, To So Gen Min meiga taikan, which has served for almost a century as a valued reference book, and in which this painting was reproduced 6. A large delegation of Chinese collectors, including the prominent Shanghai publisher, collector, and lay Buddhist Di Baoxian (also known as Chuqing , Pingzi ; 1872-1941), travelled to Japan on the occasion of this comprehensive effort by Chinese cultural elites, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and Japanese temples and collections. The Japanese Empress Kojun personally visited the exhibition on December 12, and its success led to extension of the closing date.
The exhibition catalogue credits the loan of this painting to Di Baoxian’s son Jingming and attributes it to an anonymous Song master. Di Baoxian, demonstrating his admiration for the painting, his dedication to Buddhist studies, and his support for the Tokyo exhibition, inscribed the mounting with highest praise, supplying the title and attribution under which it was catalogued: “Anonymous Song, Manjusri Washing the Elephant, highest (divine) class.” He wrote: “The brushwork of the drapery folds in this painting clearly resembles those of a Tang master. There are many Japanese who have painted Buddha and bodhisattva images that resemble this. Tang paintings still survive in Japan, but in our country are extremely rare. I [suspect ?] this painting is a Song artist’s copy of a Tang composition. Unfortunately, the artist’s signature was removed by the mounter, so there is no way to know who painted it.” At some time before it was shown in Japan, the work was indeed cut to remove the upper portion, where the artist’s inscription and signature are normally found, as well as the lower section, the usual location of seals of the artist and collectors. Cui Zizhong’s contemporaries considered his works to follow the great masters of the pre-Tang era, when foreign monks brought their marvelous styles to China. Their air of antiquity has led to this and several of his other paintings being misattributed to earlier artists.
1. For my 1984 attribution of the painting to Cui Zizhong, see “The Significance of Style and Subject Matter in the Painting of Cui Zizhong (d.1644),” University of California, Berkeley, 1984, pp. 190-191, pl. 82. At the time, I knew the image from the 1929 Japanese catalogue Toso genmin meiga taikan. Only slightly later did I learn that the painting happily survives and had the opportunity to see it in the original.
2.Qian Qianyi, Liechao shiji xiaozhuan, p. 533.
3.Cui Zizhong, Sweeping the Elephant, ink and color on silk, 166.1x50.5cm, NPM000656N000000000
4. James Cahill, The Distant Mountains (Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1982) pls. 128-129. This composition is variously titled Sweeping the Elephant and Washing the Elephant .
5. For many of Cui’s paintings in the National Palace Museum, see Wan Ming bianxing zhuyi huajia zuopinzhan Style Transformed: A Special Exhibition of Works by Five Late Ming Artists (Taipei: National Palace Museum, 1977). For those in the Shanghai Museum and Beijing Palace Museum, see Nan Chen Bei Cui: Gugong bowuyuan Shanghai bowuguan cang Chen Hongshou Cui Zizhong shuhuaji. Painting and Calligraphy of Chen Hongshou and Cui Zizhong from the Palace Museum and the Shanghai Museum (Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 2008. Also consult the museum websites.
6. Toso genmin meiga taikan (Catalogue of the Works of Chinese Master Painters held at Tokyo in the Art Gallery, November-December, 1928, under the auspices of the Japanese Government). Eds. Toso genmin meiga tenrankai. 2 vols. Tokyo: Otsuka Kogeisha , 1929, pl. 134.
xceptional Chinese porcelain pieces from the Ming dynasty will also be offered at the auction: a sumptuous Zhengtong - Tianshun (1436-1464) porcelain jar and an extraordinary Wanli (1573-1619) porcelain covered box. These pieces, in blue and white, demonstrate the finesse and refinement of 15th century Chinese ceramics and are estimated at €60,000-80,000 each.
Lot 27. A rare and important blue and white jar, guan, Ming dynasty, Zhengtong-Tianshun period (1436-1464). Hauteur: 35,5 cm. (13 ¾ in.). Estimate EUR 60,000 - EUR 80,000. Price realised EUR 112,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Le pourtour est orné de trois lettrés à cheval accompagnés de leur quatre serviteurs transportant sur leurs dos des paniers de victuailles, des jarres et un qin soigneusement enveloppé. Ils cheminent sous les pins vers un pavillon où les attendent un lettré et deux serviteurs. Le ciel est chargé de nuages en volutes. La base est encerclée d'une large bande de flots tumultueux et le col et l'épaulement de quatre petits médaillons ornés de fleurs en réserve sur fond de croisillons.
Provenance: Previously in a Japanese private collection in Kyushu, purchased from Hirano Kotoken, Osaka, circa 1970.
Note: See a closely related jar in the Shanghai Museum is included by Yang Zhigang in Jingdezhen Porcelain Wares in the Mid-Fifteenth Century, China, 2019, no. 228, pp. 320-321 and other similar related jars from the Capital Museum and the Tianjin Museum are also illustrated, nos. 229, 233, 234. See also another jar decorated with identical subject referred to as xie qin fang you (carrying a qin to visit a friend) is illustrated in a colour pullout in Mei no Shimitsu (Ming Blue and White) by Fujioka Ryoichi, Haibonsha series, 1975, no. 3.
Lot 28. A fine and rare blue and white rectangular 'dragon' box and cover, Ming dynasty, Wanli six-character mark in underglaze blue within double rectangles and of the period (1573-1619). Longueur: 24 cm. (9 ½ in.). Estimate EUR 60,000 - EUR 80,000. Unsold. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
De forme rectangulaire, évoquant la forme d'un coussin, elle est ornée sur le couvercle de deux dragons sinueux à cinq griffes à la poursuite de la perle enflammée parmi les nuages stylisés au-dessus des flots tumultueux et les rochers escarpés au centre. Les coins sont peints d'objets précieux et de lingzhi. Les côtés sont ornés de rinceaux fleuris et les bords soulignés de frises de grecques. Le pied est décoré d'entrelacs.
Provenance: Previously in a private collection, East Anglia, UK.
Note: Boxes of this pattern include one in the Illustrated Catalogue of the Tokyo National Museum. Chinese Ceramics, vol. II, Japan, 1990, no. 108; one in the Holger Lauritzen Collection, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, vol. 8, Japan, 1982, pl. 245; one included in the Exhibition of Yuan and Ming Ceramics, The Japan Ceramic Society, Tokyo, 1956, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 163. Another close box was included by Marchant in their exhibition of Seventeenth Century Blue and White and Copper-Red and Their Predecessors, 1997, no. 11, pp. 24/5. Two close examples were sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 November 2004, lot 1090 and 1 December 2010, lot 3115 but few examples exhibit the vibrancy and definition in the cobalt blue found on the present box and cover.
Coming from an important European private collection, a rare Chinese cloisonné vase with its lid and base should attract the attention of collectors. This piece stands out for its bright colours and its decoration, composed of friezes and fantasy animals. Dating from the Qing dynasty (18th-19th centuries), this true work of art is estimated between 15,000 and 20,000 euros. This collection also features a fine group of Himalayan artworks including an important bronze of Sadaksharilokeshvara circa 15th century estimated at €50,000-70,000.
Lot 155. A rare and important cloisonné enamel vase and cover and its base, gui, Qing dynasty (1644-1911); Hauteur totale avec le socle: 35 cm. (13 ¾ in.). Estimate EUR 15,000 - EUR 20,000. Price realised EUR 181,250. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
La panse et le couvercle sont ornés de masques de taotie en réserve sur fond turquoise rehaussé de grecques. Le col est orné de chilong stylisés. Les anses en bronze doré sont moulées d'une tête d'animaux fantastiques d'où émergent deux frises de grecques. La base du gui est rehaussée d'une marque en relief à six caractères dans un rectangle de l'Empereur Qianlong. Le socle carré est également orné de masques de taotie et de chilong stylisés sur fond turquoise rehaussé de grecques.
Literature: Dr. Gunhild Gabbert Avitabile, Die Ware aus dem Teufelsland, Chinesische und japanische Cloisonné – und Champlevé-Arbeiten von 1400 bis 1900, Germany, 1981, cat. no. 80.
Note: The shape and decoration of this rare cloisonné vessel, are based on early bronze prototypes, especially those of Western Zhou dynasty date, such as the bronze gui on stand in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. While the shape of the Sackler gui and its tall integral base are similar, the decoration of long-tailed birds is not. The taotie mask decoration of the cloisonné gui is of the type more usually found on Western Zhou bronze gui.
See a closely related Qianlong cloisonne enamel archaistic gui on a square stand, bearing an incised Qianlong mark, of similar size (37 cm. high), sold in Christie's New York, 29 March 2006, lot 306.
Also see a scholarly version of miniature cloisonne enamel gui, measuring 11.1 cm high, bearing a Qianlong cast four-character mark within double-squares, sold in Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2012, lot 4021.
Lot 60. A bronze figure of Shadakshari Lokeshvara, Tibet, circa 15th century. Hauteur: 59 cm. (23 ¼ in.). Estimate EUR 50,000 - EUR 70,000. Price realised EUR 200,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Il est représenté assis en vajrasana sur un socle lotiforme. Ses mains principales sont en anjalimudra, ses deux autres mains en vitarkamudra, l'une tenant une perle, l'autre tenait certainement à l'origine le lotus. Il est paré de bijoux et vêtu d'un dhoti. Son visage est serein et doré à froid et rehaussé de polychromie. Ses cheveux bleus sont coiffés en un haut chignon orné d'un petit Bouddha. Son front est ceint d'une couronne ouvragée.
Note: Shadakshari Lokeshvara is one of the thirty-one forms of Avalokiteshvara according to the Sadhanamala. He is personified by the six syllable mantra of the Buddhists, 'Om mani padme hum'. The four-armed Sadaksharilokeshvara is seated in vajrasana on the lotus pedestal. The lower pair of his arms is in anjalimudra, the gesture of adoration against the chest while the upper right hand is holding a pearl, the upper left arm is in the attitude of holding the lotus which is not present.
See a very close figure of Shadaksari Lokeshvara with the face painted in cold gold from the 14th century illustrated in Ulrich Von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, volume II, Tibet & China, Visual Dharma Publications Ltd., Hong Kong 2001, fig. 317C p. 1180).
Finally, the collector will have the opportunity to acquire a beautiful pale celadon jade group carved in cranes from the Qing dynasty, and more precisely from the Qianlong period (1736-1795). This precious and delicate object is executed with remarkable accuracy and craftsmanship. It is estimated at €100,000- 120,000.
Lot 197. An important white-celadon jade carving of a crane and peaches, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Longueur: 11,5 cm. (4 ½ in.). Estimate EUR 100,000 - EUR 120,000. Unsold. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.
Il représente une grue couchée sur des branchages chargés de pêches de longévité. Elle tient un branchage de lingzhi dans son long bec. Sa tête est tournée vers l'arrière et ses plumes sont finement incisées.
Provenance: Property from an Australian private collector, purchased in Sydney, Australia in the 1950-60s.
Bonhams London, 11 November 2010, lot 223.