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AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF GUANYIN
AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF GUANYIN
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AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF GUANYIN

LATE MING DYNASTY, HE CHAOZONG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK WITHIN A SQUARE IN SILVER-INLAY

Details
AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF GUANYIN
LATE MING DYNASTY, HE CHAOZONG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK WITHIN A SQUARE IN SILVER-INLAY
The graceful figure is superbly cast standing on a cloud base, dressed in voluminous robes characterised by heavy folds with the hems inlaid with lotus scrolls, while open at chest to reveal a bejewelled necklace. The face has a benevolent expression rendered with the urna of wisdom and with pendulous earlobes. Her hair is secured with a ruyi-head diadem and covered beneath a cowl finely inlaid with lingzhi scrolls on the hems, with a four-character mark within a square reading He Chaozong yin, ‘The seal of He Chaozong’, on the reverse.
23 5⁄8 in. (58.8 cm.) high
Literature
Michael Goedhuis, Chinese and Japanese Bronzes, A.D. 1100-1900, London, 1989, no. 7

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Marco Almeida (安偉達)
Marco Almeida (安偉達) SVP, Senior International Specialist, Head of Department

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Lot Essay

At almost 60 cm. in height, the present figure of Guanyin commands an imposing yet graceful presence, and is one of the largest and finest figures of this type that are known. It also appears to be the only known bronze silver-inlaid figure of Guanyin bearing a He Chaozong mark.

He Chaozong, whose dates remain unclear, is believed to have been active during the Jiajing and Wanli periods, and is revered for his works of Dehua figures, especially that of Guanyin. One of the best examples of such was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27 November 2017, lot 8120, which is shown standing on swirling waves with her hands covered beneath the folds, and slightly smaller (51.5 cm) than the present figure. Although it is interesting to note that the style of the impressed He Chaozong mark on the Dehua figure, comprising four characters within a square, is nearly identical to that found on the present figure.

The majority of bronze silver-inlaid figures from this period are Guanyin of smaller sizes. Shown seated or standing, they often bear the mark of the late-Ming artisan Shisou, known for his works of bronze Buddhist figures. See for example, eight bronze silver-inlaid figures of Guanyin in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in Guanyin in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2012, pp. 70-79, nos. 40-47, of which seven bear the mark of Shisou with only one inlaid with the mark of Lin Qing, another late-Ming artisan.

The only other known bronze silver-inlaid figure with a He Chaozong mark appears to be a figure of a seated Buddha (35.5 cm.), sold at Bonhams London, 11 May 2017, lot 108, which bears a three-character mark, leaving out the character, yin, ‘impression’, and is enclosed within a double gourd as opposed to a square seen on the present figure.

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