carved in low relief around the mid-section with two bands of confronting kuilong flanking flanges between a border of interlinked stylized phoenix around the rim and foot, the single-loop handle surrounded by four phoenix-headed chilong, the countersunk base with a four-character seal mark reading Hu Xingyue zhi
The present finely carved rhinoceros horn cup belongs to a small group of vessels bearing the carver’s mark in seal script on the base. According to Jan Chapman in The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China,
London, 1999, p. 129, there are eight cups known to be by Hu who signed his works with a square four-character seal on the base of his cups, all of which are decorated in the archaistic style. Chapman lists two cups by Hu in the collection of the Aberdeen Art Gallery, ibid.,
p. 129, and others in the Minneapolis Museum of Art and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. See an illustration of a seal by Hu inside the foot of an archaic jue,
in the Museum voor Volkenkunde, Rotterdam, included ibid.,
pl. 134. Chapman however, does not mention another cup by Hu, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Bamboo. Wood. Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings,
Shanghai, 2001, pl. 134, where it is dated to the late Ming dynasty. Since the publication of Chapman's book, other pieces bearing Hu's seal have come to light.
For two examples of cups by Hu Xingyue, both sold in our Hong Kong rooms, see one from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, 8th October 2010, lot 2220; and another sold 9th October 2012, lot 3057. A ding by Hu from the Mary and George Bloch Collection was also sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 23rd October, 2005, lot 114.