The present lot is an exceptional example of ancient sculptural art, in which the liveliness of the animal is reflected through the dynamic movements rather than through the realistic portrayal of subtle details. See a gilt-bronze ram of a similar size, modeled in a similar galloping posture, discovered inside a wine cup from an Eastern Han dynasty hoard at Lijia village, Yanshi, Henan province, now in the Henan Museum, Zhengzhou, published in Zhongguo wenwu jinghua daquan qingtongjuan [Compendium of Chinese art. Bronzes], Taipei, 1993, no. 1222.
The present lot is cast to the underside with a rectangular aperture, which indicates a functional purpose. Although its exact use is still unclear, several related bronze does with hollow interiors are known, suggesting they were possibly ornamental fittings. None of the published examples are, however, modeled galloping, which makes the present lot a particularly rare example of this type. Related bronze does of a smaller size have been identified as chariot yoke ornaments, such as four, cast standing with similarly styled large rounded eyes and pricked ears, attributed to 5th-4th century B.C., exhibited in Traders and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1995, cat. no. 32.
See a pair of slightly recumbent smaller bronze deer, attributed to the late Zhou dynasty, from the Stoclet Collection, published in H.F.E. Visser, Asiatic Art in Private Collections of Holland and Belgium, New York, 1952, pl. 62, no. 127; one from the collection of H. v. Klemperer, attributed to Han dynasty, exhibited in Ausstellung Chinesischer Kunst [Exhibition of Chinese Art], Berlin, 1929, cat. no. 86; a third attributed to Ordos, 3rd-1st century BC, exhibited in Ancient Chinese Bronze vessels, gilt bronzes and sculptures, Eskenazi, London, 1977, cat. no. 39; as well as a group of related examples in various forms, from the Collection of C.T. Loo, illustrated in Alfred Salmony, Sino-Siberian Art. The collection of C.T. Loo, Paris, 1933, pl. XXXIII.