, , , , ,

An archaistic gold and silver-inlaid bronze 'Double-Ram' vessel, zun, Ming-Early Qing Dynasty, 14th-17th century

An archaistic gold and silver-inlaid bronze ‘Double-Ram’ vessel, zun, Ming-Early Qing Dynasty, 14th-17th century. Estimate $60,000 – $80,000. Price Realized $329,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014

The vessel is heavily cast in the shape of two addorsed rams sharing the same hollow body that is raised on four legs and from which rises an oblong neck decorated in gold and silver inlay on each side with a taotie mask below a band of diagonal scrolls. The body is inlaid with scales and the legs with archaistic motifs above three bow-string bands. An archaistic two-character inscription is cast inside the neck. 11½ in. (29.2 cm.) high.

Provenance: Heber Reginald Bishop (1840-1902).
James Cunningham Bishop (1870-1932).
Mary Cunningham Bishop Peabody (1893-1980).
James Bishop Peabody (1922-1977), and thence by descent to the present owner.

Property from the collection of Mrs. James Bishop Peabody

Notes: The shape and decoration of this unusual vessel are based on late Shang dynasty bronze zun of double-ram shape, two of which are in public museums, and both of which are illustrated by Robert W. Bagley in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foudation, 1987; one in the Nezu Museum, Japan, p. 122, fig. 175, the other in the British Museum, p. 121, fig. 173. The present vessel has been quite faithful to these early prototypes, despite interpreting the decoration with gold and silver inlay. See, also, the gold and silver-inlaid bronze double-ram zun in the National Palace Museum illustrated in Through the Prism of the Past, Taipei, 2003, p. 146, no. III-10, where it is dated Ming to early Qing.

Christie’s. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 18 – 19 September 2014, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.