Auction Results

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
A RARE AND FINELY CAST BRONZE RITUAL COVERED WINE VESSEL, FANGYI
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A RARE AND FINELY CAST BRONZE RITUAL COVERED WINE VESSEL, FANGYI

SHANG DYNASTY, 12TH-11TH CENTURY BC

Details
A RARE AND FINELY CAST BRONZE RITUAL COVERED WINE VESSEL, FANGYI
SHANG DYNASTY, 12TH-11TH CENTURY BC
The slightly tapering, faceted sides cast in relief with large taotie masks with prominent horns terminating in curved tips cast in higher relief, flanked on the principal sides by two small descending dragons, between pairs of confronted gui dragons with hooked tails on the notched foot below and in a band above, the slightly convex roof-shaped cover cast on all sides with further inverted horned taotie masks below the knop of conforming shape cast in intaglio with small masks, all reserved on leiwen grounds within notched flange borders, with a pictograph cast in the base on the interior, the lightly encrusted grey-green patina with brown and brighter green mottling
9 3/8 in. (23.7 cm.) high
Provenance
Gladys Lloyd Robinson Collection; Sotheby's, New York, 23 October 1976, lot 118.
British Rail Pension Fund; Sotheby's, London, 12 December 1989, lot 8. Eskenazi, London
Exhibited
Traveling exhibition, The Robinson Collection, 1961-2, catalogue pl. 46.
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ancient Ritual Bronzes of China, 1976, no. 17.
On loan: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1977-88.

Lot Essay

Due to surface accretions it is difficult to fully decipher the pictograph which appears to have three characters, the central one being a clan sign.
Fangyi appear to be a distinctly Shang bronze vessel form which was made from the early to late Anyang period. During this period there were minor differences in the shape and decoration, but no major evolution appeared to take place, as one sees in some other vessel types.
This vessel is a fine example of Anyang casting with its successful combination of elegant proportions and shape and unified design. For a full discussion of the evolution of the fangyi see R. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1987, pp. 428-44. The earliest fangyi, as represented by those in figs. 77.7-77.9, have a distinctly defined foot with larger arched openings, the body does not have flanged corners, and the covers seen in figs. 77.7 and 77.9 have a straight cant. What may be considered a slightly later group is represented by the current example: there is no distinct demarcation between the foot and the body, but instead a straight tapering profile, there are flanges at the corners as well as dividing the sides, and the covers have a slightly convex profile. The last group have a more robust, more sharply tapering shape, still have flanges, but seem to have reverted to the more distinctly defined foot and the straight canted cover of the earliest type. This type is represented by no. 79, pp. 440-44.
The decoration on all fangyi is arranged in registers, with a large taotie mask on the body, small dragons or birds on the foot and above the mask and either a large taotie repeated on the cover or, in at least one instance, a bird. See d'Argencé, The Hans Popper Collection of Oriental Art, Japan, 1973, no. 2, for the latter. In some instances the decoration is flat-cast or the decorative motifs are filled with leiwen scrolls. The present fangyi is very similar to one in the Hakutsuru Art Museum, Kobe, illustrated by Umehara, Nihon Shucho Shina Kodo Siekwa, Osaka, vol. IV, pl. CCLXXVI.
;

More from Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

View All
View All