Thu, 27th Jan 2022 10:00

Asian Art Discoveries

 
  Lot 12
 

12

TWO ‘MYTHICAL BEAST’ MARBLE PANELS, FRAGMENTS OF A FUNERARY STRUCTURE, TANG TO JIN DYNASTY

Sold for €278

including Buyer's Premium


Lot details

China, 618-1234. Each rectangular fragment chiseled in relief with mythical beasts striding among plants, including a chilong, two bixie, and another hybrid creature with hooves, scales, and a phoenix head, all above a gently curving, stylized leafy vine forming an outline reminiscent of a mountain range. (2)

Provenance: From an English private collection in Buckinghamshire, acquired in the 1980s and thence by descent.
Condition: Condition commensurate with age. Extensive wear, losses, signs of weathering and erosion, nicks, scratches, and encrustations.

Weight: 13.5 kg and 15.2 kg
Dimensions: Size 81.7 x 25.5 cm and 88 x 25 cm

Both with massive cast iron fittings for wall suspension, probably dating to the earlier 20th century.

The present two stone fragments were likely once segments of a funerary structure, possibly decorative panels of the walls or door to a sarcophagus. The walls of the sarcophagus of Li Shou, Prince Jing of Huai'an, now housed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum and illustrated in Angela Falco Howard, et. al, Chinese Sculpture, 2006, Beijing, fig. 2.39, feature relief carvings of beasts and stylized clouds related to the present example on its walls and around the tomb door. The tomb of Li Shou, a cousin of Tang emperor Gaozu, was erected in 631 within the emperor's Xianling necropolis.

It is also worth considering a funerary stele erected for Xiao Hongtian, illustrated in Yao Qian and Gu Bing, Nan chao ling mu shi ke, [Tomb Carvings of the Southern Dynasties], Beijing, 1981, pls. 55 and 56. Xiao was conferred as ruler of the Linchuan region in the year 502, and perished in 526. The main face of the stele comprises eight square panels with relief-carved striding mythical beasts among cloud wisps, within foliate borders.

Literature comparison: Compare a related but larger marble relief, dated to the Jin dynasty, and carved with figures, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number A.59-1937.

Auction result comparison: Compare a related but more elaborate marble panel (Size 40.6 x 50.2 cm) dated to the early Tang dynasty, carved with a mythical beast striding on clouds, at Sotheby’s New York in Junkunc: Chinese Buddhist Sculpture on 12 September 2018, lot 4, sold for USD 300,000 (for a single panel).

 

China, 618-1234. Each rectangular fragment chiseled in relief with mythical beasts striding among plants, including a chilong, two bixie, and another hybrid creature with hooves, scales, and a phoenix head, all above a gently curving, stylized leafy vine forming an outline reminiscent of a mountain range. (2)

Provenance: From an English private collection in Buckinghamshire, acquired in the 1980s and thence by descent.
Condition: Condition commensurate with age. Extensive wear, losses, signs of weathering and erosion, nicks, scratches, and encrustations.

Weight: 13.5 kg and 15.2 kg
Dimensions: Size 81.7 x 25.5 cm and 88 x 25 cm

Both with massive cast iron fittings for wall suspension, probably dating to the earlier 20th century.

The present two stone fragments were likely once segments of a funerary structure, possibly decorative panels of the walls or door to a sarcophagus. The walls of the sarcophagus of Li Shou, Prince Jing of Huai'an, now housed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum and illustrated in Angela Falco Howard, et. al, Chinese Sculpture, 2006, Beijing, fig. 2.39, feature relief carvings of beasts and stylized clouds related to the present example on its walls and around the tomb door. The tomb of Li Shou, a cousin of Tang emperor Gaozu, was erected in 631 within the emperor's Xianling necropolis.

It is also worth considering a funerary stele erected for Xiao Hongtian, illustrated in Yao Qian and Gu Bing, Nan chao ling mu shi ke, [Tomb Carvings of the Southern Dynasties], Beijing, 1981, pls. 55 and 56. Xiao was conferred as ruler of the Linchuan region in the year 502, and perished in 526. The main face of the stele comprises eight square panels with relief-carved striding mythical beasts among cloud wisps, within foliate borders.

Literature comparison: Compare a related but larger marble relief, dated to the Jin dynasty, and carved with figures, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number A.59-1937.

Auction result comparison: Compare a related but more elaborate marble panel (Size 40.6 x 50.2 cm) dated to the early Tang dynasty, carved with a mythical beast striding on clouds, at Sotheby’s New York in Junkunc: Chinese Buddhist Sculpture on 12 September 2018, lot 4, sold for USD 300,000 (for a single panel).

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