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"Il n'y a en art, ni passé, ni futur. L'art qui n'est pas dans le présent ne sera jamais." (Pablo Picasso)
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    Lot 7. Rare Extremité de hampe à deux faces en bronze, Fin de la Dynastie Shang - Début de la Dynastie des Zhou Occidentaux, ca. XIe-Xe siècle avant J.-C.; Haut. 15,8 cmEstimation: 50,000 — 70,000 €Lot. Vendu 423,000 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    le tube assez court en forme de D, sculpté sur une face d'un visage humain grimaçant aux yeux figurés par deux mamelons, surmonté d'un grand masque de taotie aux yeux exorbités et aux narines dilatées, couronné de cornes recourbées en forme de C et d'oreilles largement déployées formant des enroulements, le revers sculpté là encore de deux masques, un animal fabuleux au museau pointu et aux yeux en amande sous des sourcils épais se continuant en cornes puissantes, surmontant un masque d'éléphant styliséà la trompe levée émergeant au centre et formant comme une queue quand l'objet est de profil, patine couleur gris-vert, D.W 37/103.

    Provenance: Discovered at Luoyang (according to René Grousset).
    Collection of Léon Wannieck, Paris (according to René Grousset).

    Exhibited: L'Evolution des Bronzes Chinois Archaïques, Musée Cernuschi, Paris, Mai - Juin 1937, no. 32.
     
    Literature: René Grousset, L'Evolution des Bronzes Chinois Archaïques d'après l'Exposition du Musée Cernuschi, Paris, 1937, cat. no. pl. XI.32.
    René Grousset, La Chine et son Art, Paris, 1951.
    Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt and Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art. Bronzes, Jade, Sculpture, Ceramics, Oxford, 1980, cat. no. 30 and pl. 31.

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    René Grousset, La Chine et son Art, Paris, 1951, Image © Librairie Plon, Paris, 1951

    NoteThis unusual bronze finial is one of several examples known to exist in Western collections formed at the same time as the David-Weill Collection in the 1930s. Only five other finials of the same size and design are recorded, the first from the Pillsbury Collection, is illustrated in Alain Priest, Chinese Bronzes of the Shang (1766-1122 B.C.) through the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906), New York, 1938, cat. no. 124, the second, in the collection of the British Museum, London, published in William Watson, Handbook to the Collections of Early Chinese Antiquities, London, 1963, pl. 12; two other examples from the Avery Brundage Collection, are shown in Rene-Yvon Levebvre d'Argence, Bronze Vessels of Ancient China in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1977, pl. XXIV.B and C. A fifth example is illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji: Diaosu bian, Beijing, 1988, vol. 1, pl. 99. A related bronze staff finial cast with a slightly different human face below the large animal mask, was sold at Sotheby's London, 6th April 1976, lot, 12, and is now in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, published in Giuseppe Eskenazi, A Dealer's Hand. The Chinese Art World through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, p. 178, pl. 7.  

    The rarity of this bronze finial, and the five companion pieces, lies in their elaborately conceived design. Cast like a sculpture in the round, each finial features four different heads, one side dominated by a large animal mask with prominent eyes and large coiled horns surmounting a realistically depicted human face with a wide crescent-shaped mouth, the reverse side of the finial cast with an elephant head with a projecting coiled trunk below a large head of what appears to be a feline or rodent. Viewed from the sides, the finial shows all four heads in full profile. Holes on the lower part of the base indicate that these finials may have served as a finial for a wooden stave or pole. 

    The most striking feature of this bronze finial is the representation of a realistically rendered grimacing human face with a prominent nose, eyes and a wide, crescent-shaped mouth with small openwork-teeth. Human faces are rarely depicted on Shang or Western Zhou ritual bronzes, yet several important examples are known. A bronze you in the collection of the Musee Cernuschi, Paris, is cast in the form of a feline devouring a human figure; a fang ding cast with four large human faces reputedly found at Ningxiang county, Hunan, see Jessica Rawson, Mysteries of Ancient China, London, 1996, p. 51, fig. 51. Rawson attributes the origins of human faces on ritual bronzes to a Southern Chinese tradition, backed by recently excavated large bronze figures with human faces found in Sanxingdui, Guanghan county, Sichuan. Yet, human faces do appear on chariot and harness fittings of the Shang and Western Zhou periods, compare Rawson, ibid., pp. 114-116. 

    Such detail as found on the present finial is unusual for a comparatively small bronze fitting. Close yet less detailed examples have been discovered in tombs of the early mid-Western Zhou period at Baoji, Shaanxi province, see Baoji Yu guo mudi, Beijng, 1988, vol. 2, pl. 215. Other examples in early Western collections include two bronze finials from the gallery stock of Otto Burchard, illustrated in Ludwig Reidemeister, Die Bestaende der Firma Dr. Otto Burchard & Co., Berlin, in Liquidation. Chinesische Kunst, 1. Teil, Berlin, 1935, pl. 29.287; the second from the von der Heydt Collection, in Viktor Griessmaier, Sammlung Baron Eduard von der Heydt Wien, Wien, 1936, cat. no. 122. 

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015

     


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    Lot 8. Dague cérémonielle en jade calcifié, Ge, Dynastie Shang, ca. 1600-1200 avant J.-C.;Long. 34,3 cm. Estimation: 15,000 — 25,000 €Lot. Vendu 47,500 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

     

    la lame lancéolée, légèrement courbée, sur chacune des deux faces longitudinales, le tenon carréà rebords légèrement arqués et plats, le sommet orné de huit menues saillies, chaque côté de la lame divisé par une arête centrale pointue en relief se terminant en une pointe aiguisée, un petit trou percéà la base du tang, de couleur grisâtre avec des taches blanchâtres et plus foncées, la surface couverte d'une matière poudreuse brunâtre, D.W 3022.

    ExhibitedArts de La Chine Ancienne, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1937, no. 81. 

    LiteratureGeorges Salles, Arts de La Chine Ancienne, Paris, 1937, cat. no. 81 (not illustrated). 
    Alfred Salmony, Carved Jade of Ancient China, Berkeley, California, 1938, V.2.

    Note: Jade daggers carved in the form of bronze weapons were added to the repertoire of jade weapons in the early Shang period. Their sizes and extreme thinness suggest that they were made for ceremonial use. Like their bronze counterparts, jade daggers would have been affixed to a wood or bronze haft at right angle to the blade secured by a pin through the hole drilled at the butt of the dagger.

    The popularity and importance of jade daggers can be seen by the significant number of examples excavated from the tomb of Fu Hao, ca. 1200 BC, at Anyang, which included 39 examples of various sizes and forms, compare Fu Hao mu, Beijing, 1980, pls. 107-114. Even before the site of the late Shang capital at Anyang was first scientifically excavated in the late 1920s, jades from late Shang contexts were discovered in Anyang and found their way into Western collections formed in the 1920s. Ten related calcified jade daggers similar to the present piece are in the Pillsbury Collection, several are illustrated in Na Chih-Liang, Chinese Jades: Archaic and Modern from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1977, nos. 1-6

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015

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    Lot 9. Dague Archaïque en Bronze, Ge, Fin de la Dynastie Shang, ca. 1200 avant J.-C.; Long. 29,5 cm. Estimation: 6,000 — 8,000 €Lot. Vendu 13,750 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    la lame légèrement asymétrique de section lenticulaire, avec deux petits ailerons entourant le nei percé, le manche recourbé décoré de chaque côté de fines cloisons curvilignes entourant un motif central circulaire suggérant un oeil elliptique, à l'origine incrustée, la pièce en grande partie couverte d'une gangue verdâtre à surface rugueuse, D.W 2511.3.

    ExhibitedBronzes Chinois des Dynasties Tcheou, T'sin & Han, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1934, no. 67. 

    LiteratureUmehara Sueji, Shina-Kodo Seikwa (or Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Europe and America), Part III: Miscellaneous Objects, Vol. II, Osaka, 1933, pl. 86.
    Georges Salles, Bronzes Chinois des Dynasties TcheouT'sin & Han, Paris, 1934, cat. no. 67 (not illustrated).

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    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015

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    Lot 10. Exceptionnel grand masque de taotie en bronze, Fin de la Dynastie Shang - Début de la Dynastie des Zhou Occidentaux, XIe-Xe siècle avant J.-C.; Haut. 26,1 cm; 10 1/4  in. Estimation: 150,000 — 250,000 €Lot. Vendu 783,000 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    composé de trois parties, les deux plaques latérales ajourées sculptées en bas-relief chacune d'une corne, un oeil, une oreille et une mandibule soulignés de rainures curvilignes, la plaque nasale est parcourue d'une arête en léger relief jusqu'à un losange central puis un enroulement figurant les narines, deux trous de fixation dans chacun des quatre angles, le bronze doté d'une riche patine verte, D.W 36/52: 1, 2, 3 (3).

    NoteThe present bronze mask is made in three separate parts that would have been attached to a leather surface as indicated by the small perforations on the sides and corners, covering the front and sides of the horse's head. It is unusual and quite possibly unique as no other comparable piece is recorded.

    The mask is cast in the form of a large mythical beast head known as a taotie, a term given in later texts. While it displays some naturalistic human features such as eyes, a nose with flaring nostrils, ears and a mouth, the most striking features comprise a pair of large curved horns and a set of prominent pointed fangs. The mask is of unusually large size which explains why it was made in three parts. 

    This bronze taotie mask fitting takes its form and detail from taotie motifs cast on Shang and early Western Zhou ritual vessels. As Jessica Rawson has noted, the features of the taotie motif seem to vary depending on the size, shape and proportions of the bronze vessel, compare Jessica Rawson, Mysteries of Ancient China. New Discoveries from the Early Dynasties, London, 1996, pp. 15-16. Most often, the individual features of the taotie are disconnected and can easily be moved around although they are always centered on the often prominent nose. 

    Stylistically, this impressive bronze taotie mask with its angular features is comparabale to taotie motifs depicted on vessels of rectangular or square form, such as the taotie motif found on an archaic bronze fang ding formerly in the van Heusden Collection, illustrated in Willem van Heusden, Ancient Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Chou Dynasties. An illustrated Catalogue of the van Heusden Collection with a historical Introduction, Tokyo, 1952, pls. XVIII and XIX.  

    Few bronze masks of animal or taotie shape are known. Several animal masks with taotie features of flat shape and cast in a single piece have been found in Sanxingdui, Guanghan County, Sichuan, dated to around 1200-1000 BC, compare Rawson, ibid., pp. 69-70, no. 25. A more closely related mask also from the David-Weill Collection, was exhibited in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London in 1935, illustrated in Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, London, 1935-1936, cat. no. 146.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015

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    Lot 11. Hache Cérémonielle en Jade calcifié, Qi, Fin de la dynastie Shang, ca 1200 avant J.-C.; Long. 13,8 cm; 5 3/8  inEstimation: 12,000 — 15,000 €Lot. Vendu 21,250 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    rectangulaire aux angles légèrement asymétriques suggérant un losange, flanqué de quatre arêtes crênelées sur les côtés, percée au centre, les bords et la lame sculptés en léger dénivelé sur chaque face, la pierre d'une belle couleur chamois au doux poli, D.W 32.92.

    NoteMany small jade axes have been recovered from late Shang sites at Anyang, among them several in the tomb of Fu Hao, ca. 1200 BC, compare Yinxu yuqi, Beijing, 1982, pl. 25. The small hole indicates that such axes were fastened to a bronze shaft or handle as illustrated by surviving examples, compare a very similar example from the Pillsbury Collection, published in Na Chih-Liang, Chinese Jades: Archaic and Modern, Minneapolis, 1977, pp. 52-53, no. 15. See another small jade axe of similar elongated form from the Luboshez Collection, illustrated in Harriet McNamee, Chinese Art from the Luboshez Collection, Maryland, 1972, pp. 40-41, no. 14 and fig. 19.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015


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    Lot 13. Hache Archaïque en Bronze, Yue, Fin de la Dynastie Shang, ca. 1200 avant J.-C.; Long. 20,2 cm; 7 7/8  inEstimation: 15,000 — 25,000 €Lot. Vendu 35,000 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    la lame quasi quadrangulaire, les côtés latéraux incurvés, la lame arquée, la partie supérieure ornée d'un motif évoquant deux dragons kui affrontés formant au centre un masque à la gueule stylisée, le manche rectangulaire plat placé légèrement en décalé, percé au centre et orné de chaque côté d'un dragon représenté de profil, deux petites entailles de part et d'autre de la lame en-dessous, patine verte foncée argentée, D.W. 2588.

    NoteAn almost identical bronze axe-head was among the numerous bronze weapons found in the tomb of Fu Hao, ca. 1200 BC, at Yinxu, Anyang, compare Yinxu Fu Hao mu, Beijing, 1980, pl. 69, fig 1, with a line drawing p. 106, fig. 66: 2. Several similarly decorated examples from European collections formed in the 1930s are known, see, for instance, an example from the Oeder Collection, Altmark, and one from the Malmo Museum, illustrated in J. G. Andersson,'The Goldsmith in Ancient China', in Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 7, 1935, pl. I.1 and 2; other bronze axe-heads of this type are published in Max Loehr, Chinese Bronze Age Weapons, Ann Arbor, 1956, pls. II,  III, V and VIII.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015


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    Lot 16. Deux appliques en bronze en forme d'oiseaux, Début de la dynastie des Zhou Occidentaux, XIe-Xe siècle avant J.-C. ; Long. 19,8 cmEstimation: 30,000 — 50,000 €Lot. Vendu 40,000 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    ces oiseaux fantasques à la tête pratiquement carrée encadrant un bouton en relief, d'où partent deux cornes, l'un en forme de 'S', l'autre de crochet, le corps réduit à une simple aile se relevant en pointe à l'arrière d'où partent une patte griffue devant, une languette au centre et à l'arrière une queue se terminant en deux virgules, les appliques soulignées de lignes longitudinales soulignant le dessin, deux bélières au revers de chacune, la surface ornée de brillantes incrustrations vertes, brunes et blanchâtres, D.W 2395.1.2 (2).

    Exhibited: Bronzes Chinois des Dynasties Tcheou, T'sin & Han, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, May to June 1934, nos. 106 and 107. 

    Literature: Oswald Siren, Histoire des Arts Anciens de la Chine, vol. I, Paris and Brussels, 1929, pl. 63.
    Otto Kümmel, Jörg Trübner zum Gedächtnis, Berlin, 1930, pl. 51d.
    Serge Elisseeff, 'Les Motifs des Bronzes Chinois', Revue des Arts Asiatiques: Annales du Musée Guimet, vol. VIII (1934), pp. 239-241, p. 233, Fig. 19.
    Georges Salles, Bronzes Chinois des Dynasties TcheouT'sin & Han, Paris, 1934, cat. nos. 106 et 107 (not illustrated). 
    Charles Vignier,' L'Exposition des Bronzes Chinois. Notes Inédites de Charles Vignier', in Revue des Arts Asiatiques: Annales du Musée Guimet, vol. VIII (1934), pp. 129-145, pl. XLIa.
    Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt and Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art: Bronzes, Jade, Sculpture, Ceramics, reprint, Oxford, 1980, cat. no. 12.

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    NoteBirds with prominent crests, elongated plumage and long bifurcated tails such as the present pair combine both naturalistic and highly stylized elements giving them a striking visual presence. Moreover, as Wu Hung as argued for the taotie motif, such 'varying images seem to attest to a painstaking effort to create metaphors for an intermediate state between the supernatural and reality', see Wu Hung, Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture, Stanford, 1995, pp. 48-53. 

    Bird-shaped vessels and large bird, and more specifially, owl motifs are a prominent feature on late Shang bronzes. In the Western Zhou bird-motifs resembling a cross between a phoenix and an owl begin to replace the taotie motif that had dominated designs on bronze vessels of the Shang period, see Jessica Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Vol. IIA, Washington, DC, 1995, pp. 76-83.

    In the 1920s and 1930s, scholars working on archaic bronzes of the Shang and Western Zhou periods focused on different motifs, see, for example, Andre Leroi-Gourhon, Bestiaire du Bronze Chinois de Style Tcheou, 1936, figs. 16-26. The pair of David-Weill bird-fittings were extensively published and illustrated suggesting that they were considered important examples of their type. Charles Vignier rated them as 'among the principal pieces reproduced', see Charles Vignier, ' L'Exposition des Bronzes Chinois. Notes Inedites de Charles Vignier', in Revue des Arts Asiatiques: Annales du Musee Guimet, vol. VIII (1934), pp. 129-145

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015


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    Lot 18. Rare Disque Archaïque en jade, Dynastie Shang, ca. 1200 avant J.-C.; Diam. 18,1 cm. Estimation: 15,000 — 25,000 €Lot. Vendu 32,500 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    le disque percé en son centre d'une large ouverture soulignée d'un léger bourrelet affleurant des deux côtés formant comme un anneau, finement sculpté sur les deux faces d'une série de cercles concentriques, la pierre d'une couleur vert gris opaque avec des traces de matière rougeâtre, accidents, D.W. 30/103.

    Note: Collared discs, sometimes named 'T'-section rings, are characterised by the raised edge or collar that circumscribes the inner wall of the central aperture. Like the David-Weill example, many collared discs are finely carved with series of concentric grooves. It has been suggested that discs of this type may have been worn as wrist or arm ornaments as the positioning of excavated examples from burial contexts demonstrates, see Howard Hansford, Chinese Carved Jades, London, 1968, pp. 71-73.

    Twenty collared discs of different sizes and proportions were found among the jade artifacts discovered in the tomb of Fu Hao, ca. 1200 BC, at Anyang. They give an idea of the popularity of this disc form in late Shang dynasty, compare examples published in Yinxu yuqi, Beijing, 1982, figs. 6 and 7. At the same time, significant numbers of collared discs were discovered in contemporaneous sites in southern China, for example in Sanxingdui, Guanghan, Sichuan, and Xingan, Dayangzhou, Jiangxi, illustrating that this disc form also flourished far from the late Shang political centre in Henan, compare examples from Xingan Dayangzhou, illustrated in Shang dai Jiangnan - Jiangxi Xingan Dayangzhou chutu wenwu ziliao, Beijing, 2006, pp. 212-216. Jessica Rawson has called the appearance of collared discs a 'brief and perhaps exotic fashion' as they seem to disappear in the metropolitan areas conquered by the Western Zhou. It is not clear if the jade carvers of Anyang adopted the idea of making collared discs from Neolithic jades that had survived or if they were inspired by discs made in Southern China, see Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pp. 164-165.

    Examples in western collections formed in the 1920s and 1930s are numerous and include a collared disc of similar diameter and material from the Collection of Oscar Raphael, London, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, illustrated in James C. S. Lin, The Immortal Stone. Chinese Jades from the Neolithic Period to the twentieth Century, Cambridge, 2009, p. 23, cat. 9. A disc from collection of HRH Gustav VI Adolf King of Sweden, is published in Nils Palmgren, Selected Chinese Antiquities from the Collection of Gustav Adolf Crown Prince of Sweden, Stockholm, 1948, no. 4; for six examples from the Sonnenschein Collection, see Alfred Salmony, Archaic Chinese Jades from the Edward and Louise B. Sonnenschein Collection, Chicago, 1952, pp. 40-43; two discs from the Winthrop Collection, are illustrated in Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber, Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1975, nos. 101 and 102; and two examples from the Eumorfopoulos Collection and the Collection of Oscar Raphael, both now in the British Museum, London, published in Soame Jenyns, Chinese Archaic Jades in the British Museum, London, 1951, pls. IV and V. Several of these examples are said to have come from Anyang or Luoyang, Henan province.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015


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    Lot 19. Rare dague en bronze, Ge, Début de la dynastie des Zhou Occidentaux, ca. XIe-Xe siècle avant J.-C.; Long. 30 cm; 11 7/8  in. Estimation: 4,000 — 6,000 €Lot. Vendu 7,500 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

     la double lame pratiquement en angle droit, les bords intérieurs tranchants, les deux parties habillées d'une arête centrale en relief, se terminant en une petite ouverture circulaire sur la lame horizontale, la partie continuant la lame verticale rythmée de quatre petites ouvertures rectangulaires, le manche plat formé d'un disque percé aux bords intérieurs et extérieurs soulignés d'un léger bourrelet, le bronze enrichi d'une patine verte ponctuée de rouge, D.W. 3026.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015


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    Lot 21. Important Récipient Tripode Rituel Archaïque en Bronze, Liding, Fin de la Dynastie Shang, ca. 1200 avant J.-C.; Haut. 27.2 cm; 10 3/4  inEstimation: 150,000 — 250,000 €Lot. Vendu 507,000 €. Photo Sotheby's 2015

    la panse aux parois profondes et arrondies divisée en trois légers lobes, reposant sur trois pieds colonnes ornés de cigales stylisées regardant vers le haut, les bords agrémentés de deux anses arquées quadrangulaires face à face, un léger gradin le long du col surmontant une bande de cigales horizontales stylisées entrecoupées de mamelons ceints d'un léger bourrelet et de rainures en spirales, la panse ornée de trois masques de taotie et trois dragons la tête en bas, une large arête verticale ornée en creux de motifs géométriques coupant chaque masque et chaque paire de dragons alternés sur fond de leiwen, un seul pictogramme shi à l'intérieur, la surface intérieure et extérieure entièrement recouverte d'une belle patine incrustée bleu-vert et rouge, accidents et restaurations, D.W 35/43.

    Provenance: Excavated at Wuguancun, Anyang, Henan (according to David-Weill's notes).
    Purchased in Shanghai 7th November 1934 by Orvar Karlbeck (Purchase number 429, Orvar Karlbeck, 'Report 7. Shanghai 7th November 1934'. Volume I. The Karlbeck Syndicate Archive, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm).
    Acquired from Orvar Karlbeck, Stockholm, in 1935 for $1500 (according to David-Weill's notes). 

    Literature: Umehara Sueji, Yin Hsu. Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-Yang, Tokyo, 1964, pl. 68.1. 
    Bernard Karlgren, 'Marginalia on some Bronze Albums', in Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 31, 1969, p. 302.

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    According to David David-Weill's notes, this magnificent archaic bronze vessel was purchased in 1935 from Orvar Karlbeck (1879-1967), a Swedish railroad engineer turned collector/dealer who was stationed in China between 1906 and 1927. Karlbeck returned to China between 1928 and 1934 to source archaic bronzes for a small circle of western museums and collectors including David David-Weill. It is after his trip to China in March to December 1934 that David David-Weill purchased this magnificent bronze liding from Orvar Karlbeck who in turn had purchased it in Shanghai on November 7th, 1934. It was originally excavated from Wuguancun and acquired there from a Beijing dealer before being passed on, private conversation with Dr. Valerie Juergens who provided the following reference, compare Orvar Karlbeck, Purchase number 429, Orvar Karlbeck, 'Report 7. Shanghai 7th November 1934'. Volume I. The Karlbeck Syndicate Archive, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm..

    liding of the same size and design is in the Oppenheim Collection, London. It is illustrated by Bernard Karlgren in 'New Studies on Chinese Bronzes', Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 9, 1937, pl. X, no. 248, and in Bernard Karlgren, 'Marginalia on some Bronze Albums', in Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 31, 1959, pl. 23.b, where Karlgren refers to the 'exactly similar vessel in the D. Weill Collection', ibid., p. 302. Other examples featuring cicadas on a band below the rim are illustrated in Max Loehr, Ritual Vessels of Bronze Age China, New York, 1968, p. 68, no. 26, Edward Kidder, Early Chinese Bronzes in the City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 1956, pl. 7.

    The single pictogramm cast below the inside rim depicts a a hand holding a document and may be transcribed as shireferring to a 'recorder' or 'scribe'. The same pictogramm appears on a ritual bronze vessel, gui, from the Brundage Collection, published in Rene-Yvon Levebvre d'Argence, Bronze Vessels of Ancient China in the Avery Brundage Collection, Tokyo/San Francisco, 1977, pl. IX. left and fig. 11. d'Argence refers to another ritual bronze cast with the same pictogramm in the Freer Collection, see John A. Pope, The Freer Bronzes, Washington, 1969, p. 53.

    Sotheby's. Trésors de la Chine ancienne de la collection David David-Weill, Paris, 16 Dec 2015