An amber-glazed figure of a lion, Tang dynasty

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Lot 221. An amber-glazed figure of a lion, Tang dynasty (618-907). Height 26 cm, 10¼ in. Lot sold: 239,400 GBP (Estimate: 30,000 - 50,000 GBP). © 2022 Sotheby's.

powerfully modelled seated on its haunches, the powerful forelegs firmly planted, the head detailed with fierce protruding rounded eyes.

ProvenanceR.H. Ellsworth Ltd., New York, 7th February 2001.

Note: This powerfully modelled lion is a magnificent legacy of the high Tang era, profusely splashed in amber glaze, and preserved in exceptionally good condition. 

Lions are typically found in a Buddhist context in the Tang dynasty (618-907), although the poised, attentive posture of the current example suggests that it could also have been intended as a guardian animal. 

Another lion of the same size, similarly modelled seated on its haunches on a rockwork plinth, but splashed in green, formerly in the collection of Henry J. Oppenheim (d. 1946), and now preserved in the British Museum, London, exhibited in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-36, cat. no. 2442, and recently included in the exhibition Collectors, Curators, Connoisseurs: A Century of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 1921-2021, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 2021, cat. no. 12.

The modelling of both lions is very similar in size, style and treatment of the features and plinth, pointing to them emanating from the same workshop, probably at the Gongyi Huangye kilns in Henan province.

Sotheby'sHOTUNG | 何東 The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung | Part II: Day. London, 8 December 2022