739
739

SOLD BY THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

A LARGE SANCAI-GLAZED POTTERY FIGURE OF A CAMEL AND GROOM
TANG DYNASTY
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT
739

SOLD BY THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

A LARGE SANCAI-GLAZED POTTERY FIGURE OF A CAMEL AND GROOM
TANG DYNASTY
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

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New York

A LARGE SANCAI-GLAZED POTTERY FIGURE OF A CAMEL AND GROOM
TANG DYNASTY
the lively animal modeled standing foursquare on a rectangular base, the head raised and rearing back, mouth agape as if braying, nostrils flared and eyes bulging, a long flowing ruff of curving tufts down the arching neck and a sweptback mane atop the head, the body amber-glazed, the front of the head, the locks of hair along the front of the neck, the slightly leaning humps and curling tail picked out in a pale straw glaze, the ruffle-hemmed saddle blanket dappled in green, amber and straw glazes; the standing attendant modeled with the torso and head turning to the right, one arm raised, the other outstretched at the waist with fists clenched as if securing the reins of the spirited animal, wearing a Persian-style robe with wide lapels and secured by a knotted sash around the waist, splashed with chestnut, green and straw glazes, the head, hands and boots unglazed (2)
Height of camel 32 1/2  in., 82.6 cm
Height of groom 23 1/2  in., 59.7 cm
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Provenance

Collection of Pauline Palmer Wood (1917-1984).
Gifted to the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago in 1969 (acc. nos 1969.787a and 1969.787b).

Catalogue Note

The sophisticated and naturalistic modeling of the present camel and rider as well as the application of colorful glazes, suggest that the present work dates from the first half of the 8th century, a period considered to be the height of artistic achievement for Chinese tomb sculpture. This group comprising the grand Bactrian camel and a foreign-attired groom, illustrates the Tang dynasty's international scope. During this period the Silk Road flourished, allowing trade between China, Europe and the Near East to thrive. Indicative of the trade route's incredible breadth, the two-hump Bactrian camels were the preferred means of transport for traders as they were capable of traveling farther distances than the single-hump Arabian camels. Ox carts were slow and cumbersome, and horses were expensive and not capable of bearing heavy loads. While sculptures of horses with grooms are not uncommon, fewer examples of camels and grooms are known.

A very similar sancai-glazed camel and groom group from the Toguri Museum of Art Collection was sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 75. Compare also a related sancai-glazed camel and groom from the Chinhuatang Collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th November 2016, lot 3305. For an excavated example of a camel and its groom see an unglazed figure of a camel and groom from the tomb of Peishi Xiaoniangzi, circa 850,  Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in the Museum of the Stelae, Xi'an, and illustrated in Elfried Regina Knauer, The Camel's Load in Life and Death, Zurich, 1998,  pl. 50.

Important Chinese Art

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New York