Lot 7
  • 7

THE FU BING JUE AN EXTREMELY RARE AND VERY FINE PAIR OF BRONZE WINE CUPS EARLY WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 11TH-10TH CENTURY BC

Estimate
300,000 - 500,000 USD
Sold
1,445,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • bronze
each finely cast with a globular body supported on three crisp blade-shaped legs, intricately decorated with two taotie masks with round pupils in high relief and linear bodies in thread relief, dissolved on a leiwen ground, the loop handle on one side issuing from a bovine mask bisecting the taotie mask, a long channelled spout and pointed 'tail' forming the rim, decorated with blade-like motifs and triangular scroll lappets radiating upwards from the neck under the spout, the capped finials incised with scrollwork, both vessels with identical inscriptions on the inside wall, consisting of one clan sign and three characters reading zuo fu bing, the surface with a light green patina (2)

Provenance

Collection of Chen Rentao (1906-1968).
T.Y. King, Hong Kong, 1952.
Collection of H.E. Alexandre J. Argyropoulos.
J.J. Lally & Co., New York.

Exhibited

Mostra d'Arte Cinese, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 1954, cat. no. 48.

Literature

Chen Rentao, Jinkui lungu chuji (The first publication of the discourse on antiques in the Jinkui studio), Hong Kong, 1952, p.162.
Jean-Pierre Dubosc, Mostra d'Arte Cinese, Venice, 1954, p. 30, no. 48.

Catalogue Note

The present pair of jue cups is extremely rare; their 'baroque' silhouette appears to be virtually unparalleled in this type. Such a unique form is a testament to the innovative craftsmanship in the Western Zhou dynasty. It is also notable that the intricate design on the present jue vessels represents a new development of bronze ornamentation in the early Western Zhou dynasty, which is probably the last major innovation of the decorative styles on archaic bronzes.

There are, however several comparable examples in terms of the style of ornamentation. Compare a pair of Western Zhou covered jue cups, one in the Yale University Art Gallery, illustrated in George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1970, p. 5; the other one in the Hakutsuru Fine Art Museum, Kobe, and illustrated in the Hakutsuru Eika (Selected Masterpiece of Hakutsuru Museum), Kobe, 1978, pp. 48-49, no. 18. Another jue vessel with very similar design is in the Sen-oku Hakuko Kan and illustrated in Sen-oku Hakuko Kan Sumitomo Collection, Tokyo, 2002, p. 45, no. 50; compare also a Shang jue cup of globular body with a single 'mushroom' post from the Avery Brundage Collection in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, discussed and illustrated in Max Loehr, Ritual Vessels of Bronze Age China, New York, 1968, pp. 40-41, no. 12a.

The inscriptions on the inside wall of both vessels each consist of four characters; the first graph is yet undeciphered, probably referring to a personal name, and the inscription can be translated as 'X made [this vessel] for Father Bing'.

The pair of jue cups was once in the collection of Chen Rentao (1906-1968) (fig. 1).  Chen was a well-known businessman and collector in Shanghai and moved to Hong Kong in 1946.  His collection, which included a number of very rare masterpieces, was published in 1952, where he dated the pair of jue to the Late Shang or Early Western Zhou period, and noted that they were unearthed from Luoyang.
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