A rare Chinese archaistic celadon and russet jade rhyton. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The well-hollowed vessel of characteristic elongated form, the base carved with the large head of a mythical beast with bulging eyes under bushy brows and short antlers laid back above pointed ears, the pierced base formed by the open jaw exposing fangs and tongue, carved to one side with with a chi dragon-head handle and another coiling dragon underneath the spout, further carved with a band in shallow relief with a taotie-mask to each side and a keyfret-pattern narrow border encircling the shaped mouth rim, the mottled jade of greyish tone with beige areas interspersed with dark russet-brown veining; 17 cm. high - Estimate €4,000 - €6,000 Price Realized €70,600
Provenance: Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 13-14 October 1925, lot 93.
Notes: This style of rhyton with a dragon mouth at the base belongs to a distinct group of jade carvings. The dragon, the smaller clambering qilong and the archaistic motifs around the cup are common features of these jades. Compare the example from the Gerald Godfrey Private Collection of Fine Chinese Jades, sold in these Rooms, 30 October 1995, lot 903; and another with extensive scrollwork, illustrated by J. Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, no. 29.8, dated 16th-17th Century. The author refers to the Han dynasty predecessor for this style of rhyton, commenting that the dragon head at the base of the cup is a later invention "perhaps required in a Chinese context to provide a visual explanation for the source of the twisted bifurcated tip". Another finely carved example, dated to the mid Qing dynasty, is illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, Qing, vol. 6, no. 41. A smaller and highly animated rhyton from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee was included in the Hong Kong Museum of Art exhibition Chinese Jade Carvings, 1983, and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 214.
Christie's. European Noble and Private Collections incl. Fine Paintings,14 - 16 December 2010, Amsterdam www.christies.com