A fine and rare rhyton-form rhinoceros horn libation cup
Lot 207Y
A fine and rare rhyton-form 'dragon' rhinoceros horn libation cup 17th/18th century
Sold for HK$ 3,840,000 (US$ 494,666) inc. premium

Lot Details
A fine and rare rhyton-form 'dragon' rhinoceros horn libation cup 17th/18th century A fine and rare rhyton-form 'dragon' rhinoceros horn libation cup 17th/18th century A fine and rare rhyton-form 'dragon' rhinoceros horn libation cup 17th/18th century
A fine and rare rhyton-form 'dragon' rhinoceros horn libation cup
17th/18th century
The hollowed horn of archaistic form, tapering from a wide heart-shaped mouth, folding over and terminating in a scroll work handle, all supported by the flattened base deftly carved in the form of a stylised dragon head, with jaws wide open, as if swallowing the cup, the sides with rows of bosses in low high, all below classic scrolls at the rim.
12.9cm (5in) high.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    Purchased from Spink & Son, London at the Foire de Paris, France in 1972
    Previously in the collection of Gerard Levy (GL 12)
    The Property of a Gentleman

    Illustrated:

    F.Leroy, 'Les coupes en corne de rhinocéros: Une des rares collections privées français de coupes libatoires chinoises sculptées dans une matière insolite, Connaissances des Arts, July 1978, fig.6.

    J.Chapman, 'Coupe ou Rhyton: La corne de rhinocéros des Collections Baur', Collections Baur, Spring/Summer 1989, p.8.

    J.Chapman, The Arts of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p.153.



    十七/十八世紀 仿古犀角杯

    來源:
    於1972年在法國古董博覽會(Foire de Paris)中,購自倫敦Spink & Son
    法國Gerard Levy私人舊藏

    出版:
    F.Leroy, 'Les coupes en corne de rhinocéros: Une des rares collections privées français de coupes libatoires chinoises sculptées dans une matière insolite, Connaissances des Arts, July 1978, fig.6.
    J.Chapman, 'Coupe ou Rhyton: La corne de rhinocéros des Collections Baur', Collections Baur, Spring/Summer 1989, p.8.
    J.Chapman著:《中國犀牛角雕刻藝術》,倫敦,1999,頁153


    This magnificent carving belongs to a very small group of related rhinoceros horn libation cups, typically of archaistic form carved with raised bosses and with the handle curling up from the base. However, only one other example, in the Baur Collection in Geneva, is carved with the same monster head base, bearing the relatively unique feature of being able to be viewed not only by sitting the cup on its base, but also on its lip. The Baur carving is discussed and compared to the present rhyton by J.Chapman, 'Coupe ou Rhyton: La corne de rhinocéros des Collections Baur', Collections Baur, Spring/Summer 1989. Another rhyton-form rhinoceros horn carving, in the form of a phoenix, is in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (28.53.a,b) illustrated in ibid, p.11.

    Early rhinoceros horn and jade rhytons of bovine and deer-head form represent the earliest representation of 'animal-form' drinking vessels. One buffalo-headed example in the Shuisongshi Shanfang Collection is dated to the Southern Song Dynasty, illustrated by H.Moss and G.Tsang, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, Catalogue no.12. A bovine-head example carved from dark brown jade in imitation of rhinoceros horn and dated to the 7th to 10th century A.D. in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is illustrated by R.Y Lefebvre d'Argencé, Chinese Jades in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1977, pl.XXXIV.

    An unusual feature on this exceptional rhinoceros horn carving is the decoration of raised bosses, carved in high relief on the upper part of the horn. This is directly following a group of late Shang / early Western Zhou bronzes, cast with such motifs against a lozenge ground. For a particularly fine example of this decoration, see the late Shang / early Western Zhou bronze gui from the Cunliffe collection, sold Bonhams London, 5 November 2009, lot 4.

    However, the present unusual form is more commonly associated with jade rhytons. One of the earliest published examples, excavated from the tomb of the King of Nanyue in present day Guangzhou province, dating to circa 122 BC, is illustrated by P.Lam, Jades from the Tomb of the King of Nanyue, Hong Kong, 1991, Catalogue no.D44. Jessica Rawson suggests the possibility that the rhyton form was introduced into China from the West, probably in silver or a precious stone, see J.Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p.71.

    The rhyton continued to develop and evolve in form from the Song through to the Qing dynasties. The monster head base, seen on examples dating as early as the Song dynasty, may well have been introduced as a decorative element to provide a visual explanation for the twisted handle, as seen on the Nanyue example, see ibid, p.396. Early jade examples can be found in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated by Lefebvre d'Argencé, pl.XXXVII and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (accession number 42.250). Another example dated to the Song Dynasty was exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1975, illustrated in Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages, London, 1975, Catalogue no.277.

    Compare a pale green, white and brown jade rhyton dated to the 16th/17th century in the British Museum, which is also carved with the monster head engulfing the cup, illustrated by J.Rawson, ibid, no.29:8. Later Qing Dynasty examples can be found in the Musée Guimet, France, illustrated by J.Chapman, 'Coupe ou Rhyton: La corne de rhinocéros des Collections Baur', Collections Baur, Spring/Summer 1989, p.9, and the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated The Refined Taste of the Emperor. Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Ch'ing Court, Taipei, 1997, Catalogue no.34.

    杯口沿飾回紋一周,杯身上半部份飾以乳釘紋,下半部份雕以龍紋,其身軀扭曲形成杯耳。此杯屬於一組仿古犀角杯之一,然而只有Baur氏珍藏的例子如本杯般,底部雕以龍首,不管直立杯子或是倒臥杯子,也可觀賞其獨特的神獸造型。J.Chapman曾於1989年,在 "Coupe ou Rhyton: La crone de rhinocéros des Collections Baur"一文中比較此杯及Baur氏的例子。另一件雕以鳳紋的犀角杯,藏於Minneapolis Institute of Arts(28.53.a, b),可參考上文,頁11。

    早期雕以牛及鹿首的犀角及玉角形杯,代表著最早動物形酒器。例子包括水松石山房珍藏中,定為南宋時期的角形杯,此杯雕以水牛首,可參考H.Moss及G. Tsang著,Arts from the Scholar's Studio,香港,1986,圖版12;另一件例子藏於舊金山亞洲藝術博物館,定為七至十世紀的墨棕玉雕牛首角形杯,此器還摹仿了犀角質料,可參見R.Y Lefebvre d'Argencé著,Chinese Jade in the Avery Brundage Collection,三藩市,1977,圖版XXXIV。

    本拍品飾乳頂紋,是仿商代晚期至西周初期的青銅器紋飾,並加以變化而成的。有關例子可參考倫敦邦瀚斯2009年11月5日拍賣中,Cunliffe珍藏的商代晚期至西周初期青銅簋,拍品編號4,其簋身便是在菱形紋飾上加以乳頂紋。

    然而,我們現在看到的獨特造型,常常會與玉角形杯一并作討論。其中一件最早出版的例子,是出土於現今廣州地區的南越皇墓,屬於約公元前122年的玉角形杯,參見林業強著,《南越王墓玉器》,圖版D44。Jessica Rawaon 提出,早期的角形杯很有可能是以銀或珍貴石材製成,並由西方引入中國的,見J.Rawson著,Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing,倫敦,1995,頁71。

    角形杯這器形在宋代至清代也有持續的演變。以神獸作底部裝飾的最早例子出現於宋代,這或可從視覺上解釋裝飾部份如何演變成耳杯,參見上述書本中南越皇墓的例子,頁396。早期的玉石例子有舊金山亞洲藝術博物館的珍藏(R.Y Lefebvre d'Argencé一書,圖版XXXVII)及美國馬里蘭州的Walters Art Museum收藏(編號42.250)。另一件宋代例子曾於1975年,在維多利亞和亞伯特博物館展出。大英博物館也曾展出過一件十六/十七世紀的灰白玉角形杯,並出版於J.Rawson一書內,編號29:8。清代晚期的例子可參考法國Musée Guimet藏品,見J.Chapman著, "Coupe ou Rhyton: La crone de rhinocéros des Collections Baur",Baur Collection,1989,頁9;及台北國立故宮博物院藏品,見《宫廷之雅:淸代仿古及画意玉器特展圖錄》,1997,圖版34。
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