A RARE TURQUOISE-ENAMELED ARCHAISTIC VESSEL AND COVER, DOU
A SELECTION OF CERAMICS FROM THE RENDE ZHAI COLLECTION (LOTS 1603-1643) The Rende Zhai (House of Benevolent Learning) Collection of ceramics and works of art was carefully assembled by Dr. Olaf K. Skinsnes (1917-1997) from 1949 through the 1970s. Dr. Skinsnes was born in Henan in 1917 to parents who were medical missionaries, and after having been raised in China, moved to his parents' original home in the midwestern United States to attend university. It was during this time that he became increasingly dismayed at his fellow American's limited knowledge of China. Dr. Skinsnes not only deeply loved China, but felt that art was one of the most effective vehicles for improving mutual understanding between East and West. The Rende Zhai Collection was therefore formed as a teaching collection, used to share with those in the West the rich culture and history of China. After completing his M.D. and Ph. D., Dr. Skinsnes intended to return to China, a wish shared by his new wife, Elizabeth Anderson Skinsnes (known as Si Anli), a nurse who had her own lifelong interest in China. However, circumstances caused the couple to relocate to Hong Kong, where they lived and worked for ten years, focusing on the study and treatment of leprosy. A man of many talents, while in Hong Kong Dr. Skinsnes designed the Diamond Hill Lutheran Church, the Yuanlong Church and the Hay Ling Chou Center for people who had leprosy. The couple subsequently returned to the United States, where Dr. Skinsnes joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. Later, in 1967, they moved to Hawaii, to help develop the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine, although they would continue to visit Hong Kong on an annual basis. Although having lived all over the world, Dr. Skinsnes always longed to return to China, the land of his birth. Throughout the years, he kept in close touch with friends and colleagues in China. In 1985, his friend Dr. George Hatem (Ma Haide, 1910-1988), who had participated in the Long March, invited Dr. Skinsnes to serve as an advisor at the Sun Yat Sen University of Medical Sciences. Dr. and Mrs. Skinsnes eagerly accepted and moved to Guangzhou, where they were amongst the first Americans to be granted permanent residency. Fluent in Chinese and relishing local life, the couple veered away from the foreign settlements and moved into a smaller, local neighborhood, where they remained until 1995, when health issues forced them to return to their family in the United States. In recognition of his devotion to the country, the Chinese government awarded Dr. Skinsnes the Friendship Medal in 1992. Christie's is very pleased to be offering a selection of ceramics from the Rende Zhai collection this September. Works of art from this important collection are also being offered separately as lots 1213, 1221, 1223 and 1273.
A RARE TURQUOISE-ENAMELED ARCHAISTIC VESSEL AND COVER, DOU

GUANGXU PERIOD (1875-1908)

Details
A RARE TURQUOISE-ENAMELED ARCHAISTIC VESSEL AND COVER, DOU
GUANGXU PERIOD (1875-1908)
With somewhat compressed globular body carved with two leiwen bands within double bow-string borders above four stylized eye motifs framed by a shaped lower border, with a pair of archaistic disc-form handles, and raised on a pedestal foot encircled by ruyi heads carved in relief, the interior of the foot with a four-character mark in relief, Tao Zhai fa bao, the domed cover with two further narrow scroll bands encircling a flower head in the center and separated by a pair of upright horn-form handles, the interior carved in a line with a four-character inscription, Han leiwen dou, the exteriors and interior of the foot covered in a soft turquoise enamel in contrast to the white interiors
8½ in. (21.6 cm.) across handles, wood stand and box

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Lot Essay

The four-character inscription, Han lei wen dou, may be translated as 'Han dynasty dou vessel decorated with leiwen pattern.' The four-character mark, Tao Zhai fa bao, may be translated as 'the magical weapon of Tao Zhai.' Tao Zhai is the art-name of Tao Duanfang (1861-1911), who was a senior Manchu official of the late Qing period and a renowned collector. As one of China's most preeminent antiquarians, Duanfang amassed an extraordinary collection of Chinese art, known as the Tao Zhai Collection. His passion to improve Chinese bronze studies prompted him to finance a number of technologically advanced publications, such as Taozhai jijin xulu, which was published in 1909, and was the first catalogue to use the photolithographic process to print rubbings of bronzes. Duanfang once acquired a group of twelve bronze wine vessels excavated in 1901 at Baoji county, Shaanxi province, that are now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The present vessel is modeled after the bronze Han lei wen dou illustrated in the Xuanhe bo gu tu. Commissioned by Emperor Huizong (1082-1135), Xuanhe bo gu tu was a compilation of the 839 bronze vessels from the Shang to Tang dynasty housed within the Xuanhe Palace in the Song imperial collection. The compilation began in 1107 and took more than sixteen years to complete. First grouped by type, then by chronology, the record contains a detailed drawing and description of each vessel. A bronze dou of similar shape to the present vessel, dated to the Spring and Autumn period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 27 - Bronze Ritual Vessels and Musical Instruments,. Hong Kong, 2006, pl. 55, p. 88. (Fig. 1)
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