A GOLD-SPLASH BRONZE TRIPOD INCENSE BURNER, LIDING MING DYNASTY
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
The origin of gilt-bronze splash remains a source of speculation. Gerard Tsang and Hugh Moss in Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, p. 184, mention that the popularity of this surface decoration was fostered by Xuande bronzes of the Ming dynasty where the appearance of the gilt splashes was caused by the uneven surface patination of the vessel. Some scholars have linked gilt-splashed decoration on bronzes to qingbai and Longquan wares of the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties. Robert Mowry in his work on the Phoenix Art Museum exhibition China’s Renaissance in Bronze, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, 1993, p. 169, mentions the appearance of fine paper enlivened with flecks of gold and silver from the early 15th century and suggests that this ‘might have also played a role in the creation of such abstract decoration, either directly inspiring those who designed the bronzes or indirectly moulding taste to appreciate objects sprinkled with gold and silver’. Furthermore, Soame Jenyns and William Watson in Chinese Art. The Minor Arts II, London, 1963, p. 166, illustrate a bronze double vase with gold inlay in the form of splashes, pl. 50, which the authors describe as ‘decorated with elaborately simulated patches of apparent corrosion, the rough projecting parts consisting of pure gold, resembling unworked nuggets and grains inserted into the bronze’.
In Hausmann’s opinion, this is one of the very rare group of Xuande mark and period incense burners, comparable to the six-character Xuande-marked gold-splashed censer from the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Wenwu, 1979, Issue 12, p. 84. The Palace Museum scholars writing in that issue of Wenwu argued that this is the only type of Xuande marked gold splashed incense burner which is almost certainly of the period.