20 mars 2023

A molded pottery 'welcoming figure' panel, Song-Jin dynasty, 12th century

molded pottery 'welcoming figure' panel, Song-Jin dynasty, 12th century

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Lot 11. A molded pottery 'welcoming figure' panel, Song-Jin dynasty, 12th century; 17in (43.2cm) high; 14 1/2in (36.8cm) wide. Sold for US$5,737.50 (Estimate US$1,500 - 2,000)© Bonhams 2001-2023

A young lady holds the doorway open as if waiting for someone's return, her hair neatly drawn and wearing a floral-shaped diadem, the massive door panels with raised bosses suggesting a grand mansion beyond, the thick rectangular brick made of grey pottery, roughly finished on the back with impressed open palm-print of a human hand.

PublishedHarris, "As Virus Tightens Grip on China, the Art World Feels the Squeeze," The New York Times, February 13, 2020.

NoteThe imagery of a 'lady in a doorway' first appeared as a popular subject in Song dynasty poetry and paintings. It also became part of the funerary decoration when the Song and Jin people in northern China developed a unique practice of surrounding the burial chamber with architecture facades.

Compare the two Song dynasty brick panels similarly molded with a 'lady in a doorway' unearthed in Baisha, Henan province, illustrated by Su Bai in Baisha Song mu (A Brief Description of the Three Song Dynasty Tombs Excavated at Bai-sha), Beijing, 2002, pl. 30, with a group of illustrations of additional examples on the same subject on p. 42.

Compare also a pair of molded panels of the same subject, in the collection of the Kaifeng Museum, illustrated in Temporal Living and Elegant Life in Song Dynasty: Cultural Relics Exhibition in Song Dynasty, Beijing, 2022, p. 15.

An architectural set of carved pottery panels centered with a 'lady in a doorway' excavated in 2005 at Duanjiazhuang, Qinyuan, Shanxi province is illustrated in the China Institute exhibition catalog Theater, Life, and the Afterlife: Tomb Décor of the Jin Dynasty from Shanxi, Beijing, 2012, pp. 48-49, no. 1, attributed to the 12th Century.

Architectural panels like the present example were sometimes made of carved stone. See the carved sandstone panel depicting a young servant in a doorway from the tomb of Yang Can, attributed to the Chunyou period (A.D. 1241-1252) of the Southern Song dynasty, excavated in Yong'an county, Zunyi, Guizhou province, illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji, diaosu bian 5: Wudai Song diaosu (Compendium of Chinese Art: Sculptures Vol. 5, Five Dynasties and Song Sculptures), Beijing, 1988, no. 163.

The thermoluminescence test result is consistent with the dating of the piece, Oxford certificate number C108w50.

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Bonhams. J. J. Lally & Co. Fine Chinese Works of Art, New York, March 20, 2023

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