A massive painted grey pottery figure of a horse, Tang dynasty (618-907)

Lot 826. A massive painted grey pottery figure of a horse, Tang dynasty (618-907); 33 in. (83.8 cm.) highEstimate: USD 40,000 - USD 60,000. Price realised USD 22,500© Christie's 2021

The horse is shown standing foursquare on a rectangular base with the head turned slightly to the left. The head is sensitively modeled with alert expression and the ears pricked. There are extensive traces of red pigment and white slip on the unsaddled body.

Property from the Collection of Frederick A. and Sharon LKlingenstein.

Provenance: Eskenazi Ltd., London, 1989.

NoteHorses in China during the Tang dynasty were admired for their speed and intelligence, and not only were they important in the realms of travel and war, they also played a significant role in the leisurely activities of the nobility. The Tang nobility was legendary for their love of horses, so much so that the court passed a law in AD 667 that allowed only members of the elite to ride. Noble families might own literally thousands of horses, with different types for use in the cavalry, for hunting and polo. The present figure is exceptional for its massive size, powerful modeling and sensitively rendered head with distinctive alert expression. Painted pottery horses of this large size appear most often without trappings, most likely so that they could be outfitted with materials that have long since perished. For another example of this type, see the large pottery horse lacking trappings sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 129.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 23-24 september 2021