A rare rhinoceros horn 'Pine Tree' libation cup, Qing Dynasty, Late 17th-early 18th century

Lot 16. A rare Chinese rhinoceros horn 'Pine Tree' libation cup, Qing Dynasty, Late 17th-Early 18th centuryHeight: 6.5cm Diameter: 15cm Weight: 174g. Estimate £15,000 - £20,000© Alastair Gibson Auctions

The horn of dark molasses tone, with light amber inclusions, naturalistically carved as a camellia leaf floating on a wave-strewn base, a pierced u-shaped branch forming the handle.

Note: The subject matter of the pine tree was favoured by the Chinese scholar-literati who saw it as the symbol of longevity and unyielding character.

For further cups in this group see one in the British Museum, London, included in Derek Gilman, ‘A source of Rhinoceros Horn cups in the late Ming Dynasty’, Orientations, December 1984, p.12. fig.4; another from the collection Dr Ip Yee, published by Dr Ip Yee, ‘Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings’, International Asian Antiques Fair, Hong Kong, 1982, p.40, pl.38; and another from the collection of Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.160.

For a comparable cup from the Collection of Edward T. Chow and Franklin Chow, see Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8th April 2011, lot 2712. Sold again at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, see Important Chinese Art, 3rd April 2018, lot 3652.

A rare Chinese rhinoceros horn 'Camellia Leaf' libation cup, Qing Dynasty, 17th century

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Lot 17. A rare Chinese rhinoceros horn 'Camellia Leaf' libation cup, Qing Dynasty, 17th centuryHeight: 7cm Diameter: 12cm Weight: 174g. Estimate £15,000 - £20,000© Alastair Gibson Auctions

The horn of dark molasses tone, with light amber inclusions, naturalistically carved as a camellia leaf floating on a wave-strewn base, a pierced u-shaped branch forming the handle.

Note: The Camellia often blooms around the Chinese New Year and as most of the three hundred different species flowers are red, the colour of joy and protection, they are considered auspicious.

A similar floating ‘lotus leaf’ cup was sold at Christie’s, London, 8th November, 2011, lot 17.

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Diana M. Stainow Collection (1926 - 2019)

Originally a native of Boston, in her youth she studied painting and drawing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1954, she married Gregory Stainow and had three children, where they lived in Paris until their divorce in 1979. After some ‘itinerant’ years where she lived amongst other places London, Paris and Hong Kong, she devoted herself to collecting art, writing, further travel and family. As an artist she travelled the world bringing home treasures to incorporate into her paintings, with a particular interest in non-Western Culture, particularly Chinese and Celtic art.
(An extract taken from The Boston Globe 19th October 2019.)

ALASTAIR GIBSON Auctions. Fine Asian Art, London, 18 november 2021