A VERY RARE GOLD 'DRAGON'-HANDLED CUP
A VERY RARE GOLD 'DRAGON'-HANDLED CUP
A VERY RARE GOLD 'DRAGON'-HANDLED CUP
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A VERY RARE GOLD 'DRAGON'-HANDLED CUP

YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)

Details
A VERY RARE GOLD 'DRAGON'-HANDLED CUP
YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)
The cup has a shallow bowl with rounded sides raised on a gently flared ring foot. The handle is exquisitely executed in repoussé from two gold sheets as a dragon head suspending a loose ring from its clenched jaws. The cup is chased with a narrow band of foliate scroll below the mouth rim, and the bottom of the interior is chased with three peony blossoms borne on leafy, scrolling stems on a stippled ground within a 'bead' border.
4 3/8 in. (11.2 cm.) wide; weight 72.1 g
Provenance
Madame L. Wannieck Collection, Paris, before 1937.
Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK53A.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 104.
Literature
Osvald Sirén, Kinas Konst under Tre Artusenden, vol. II, Stockholm, 1943, pl. 364.
P. W. Meister, 'Edelmetallarbeiten der Mongolen-Zeit', Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, No. 14, Berlin, 1938, pl. 7.
Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 53A.
R. Soame Jenyns and William Watson, Chinese Art. The Minor Arts, Fribourg, 1963, pl. 14.
D. Lion-Goldschmidt and J.-C. Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art II: Gold, Silver, Later Bronzes, Cloisonné Cantonese Enamel, Lacquer, Furniture, Wood, Switzerland, 1966, p. 29, no. 14 (revised English edition 1980).
Zhang Linsheng, 'Zhongguo gudai di jingjin gongyi', The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, No. 14, Berlin, 1984, p. 59, fig. 32.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 50.
Chinese Ceramic Treasures, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 2002, pl. 50.
Exhibited
Cologne, Kölnische Kunstverein, Asiatische Kunst, 1926, cat. no. 44.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Arts de la Chine Ancienne, 1937, cat. no. 168.
Copenhagen, Dansk Kunstindustrimuseum, Kinas Kunst i Svensk og Dansk eje, 1950, cat. no. 178.
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 53A.
Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The an Dynasty (1279-1368), 1968, cat. nos. 34a, 34b.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no. 22, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums.
Sale room notice
Please note that there is additional literature for this lot: D. Lion-Goldschmidt and J.-C. Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art II: Gold, Silver, Later Bronzes, Cloisonné Cantonese Enamel, Lacquer, Furniture, Wood, Switzerland, 1966, p. 29, no. 14 (revised English edition 1980).

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Lot Essay

A gold cup, dated Song dynasty, with deep, rounded sides raised on a low, spreading pedestal foot and similarly chased below the thickened rim with a foliate scroll band, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated by Dr. Paul Singer, Early Chinese Gold & Silver, China Institute in America, New York, 1971-1972, p. 69, no. 99. The cup retains one of a pair of repoussé, lion-form handles applied to the side. A gold cup (8.5 cm. diam.) with a band of lingzhi chased on the exterior below the rolled rim, and with a leafy peony stem chased in the bottom of the interior is illustrated by Jianshe Yu, ed., Essence of Chifeng Historical Relics Series, 2006, p. 177, pl. CJ120, where it is dated Jin dynasty. Unlike the present gold cup, it does not have a handle and rests on a flat base. Also illustrated, p. 182, pl. CJ126, is a silver cup (8 cm. diam.) raised on a foot, with a lingzhi-form handle on one side and a band of foliate scroll chased in stippling below the rim on the exterior, which is dated Yuan dynasty. A gold bowl (8.4 cm. diam.) dated Song-Yuan illustrated by Peter Y. K. Lam, ed., Celestial Creations: Art of the Chinese Goldsmith, The Cheng Xun Tang Collection, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007, pp. 234, no. D35, has a band of classic scroll punched below the rolled rim. A related silver cup, also with a repoussé handle, in the collection of Pierre Uldry, is illustrated in Chinesisches Gold und Silber, Zurich, 1994, p. 224, no. 261, where it is dated 13th-14th century, Xixia or Yuan dynasty. Unlike the medallion of flowering peony stems engraved in the center of the gold cup, the silver cup is engraved in the center with the lanca character, om, implying a Buddhist context for the cup.

The loose gold ring suspended from the dragon-head handle may relate this cup to nomadic culture, as the ring would have allowed the cup to be hung from a belt. In general, gold utensils were held in high esteem at the Mongol court, as can be seen by several gold vessels from Inner Mongolia illustrated by James C. Y. Watt et al., The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, pp. 6-7, fig, 3, a gold stem cup, fig. 4, a lobed cup with ring handle below a shaped thumbpiece, and fig. 5, a lobed bowl and a lobed cup stand, the latter two dated Xixia dynasty (1018-1127). All of these have a narrow band of foliate scroll below the rim.

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