• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2238

    Masterworks of Ancient and Imperial China

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 578

    A RARE PARCEL-GILT SILVER LOBED OVAL BOWL

    TANG DYNASTY (618-907)

    Price Realised  

    A RARE PARCEL-GILT SILVER LOBED OVAL BOWL
    TANG DYNASTY (618-907)
    The lobed sides rounding upwards from the narrow ring foot to the slightly flared rim, the center decorated in repoussé with twin fish surrounded by incised foliate scroll reserved on a ring-punched ground, within an overlapping petal border below a flower spray in each of the lobes, with a narrow band of demi-florets at the rim, all highlighted in gilding
    6¾ in. (17.2 cm.) long, box


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    This bowl is unusual not only for its lobed oval form but especially for the depiction of the two ('twin') fish in the center. Although the twin-fish motif is seen in Tang wares, especially pottery, it is rare to find it as a motif on silver. A quadrilobed parcel-gilt silver bowl chased in the center with two fish swimming side by side amidst plants, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, was included in the exhibition, The Arts of the T'ang Dynasty, Los Angeles County Museum, 8 January - 17 February 1957, no. 330. Unlike the present bowl where the fish are chased in relief, those on the Minneapolis bowl are flat-chased. Another parcel-gilt silver bowl of this lobed oval shape raised on a foot ring and also flat-chased in the center with twin fish atop a lotus leaf below foliate sprays in the lobes is illustrated in Tang Dai Jinyin Qi (Gold and Silver of the Tang Dynasty), Zhenjiang Municipal Museum and Shaanxi Provincial Museum, 1985, pls. 155 and 156 (line drawing). Two swimming fish chased in relief and highlighted in gilding can be seen, however, in the center of a circular silver bowl unearthed in 1970 at Hejia Village, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and illustrated in A Journey Into China's Antiquity, vol. 3, National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing, 1997, pp. 116-7, no. 116.

    A Tang dynasty glazed pottery bowl of this lobed oval shape molded in the center with two fish below molded foliate motifs in the four lobes of the sides is illustrated by R.L. Hobson in the Catalogue of the George Eumorfopolous Collection, vol. I, London, 1925, pl. LIX, no. 393. In the catalogue entry for the bowl the author notes that a dish of similar design in silver is known and reputed to be of Tang date, but does not mention where the silver dish is located.

    Provenance

    Acquired in Hong Kong in 1998.