“A Rare Han-Style Pale Green Jade Cylindrical Cup” from Ming Dynasty will be featured at Sotheby’s upcoming auction, “Junkunc: Arts Of Ancient China,” which will be held on March 19, 2019, in New York. The pre-auction estimate of this art piece is set as high as $400,000-$600,000. This unique cup will be offered in lot 136 at the auction.
“The present cup follows the cylindrical form and archaistic design of Han dynasty prototypes, such as the famous cup and cover in the Freer Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., acquired from C.T. Loo in 1947, and extensively published, including in Hai wai i chen / Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Taipei, 1985 and Sueji Umehara, Shina kogyoku zuroku / Selected Specimens of Chinese Archaic Jade, Kyoto, 1955,” states the auction house.
Having described the physical features of the present piece, Sotheby’s stated that it is cylindrical in shape and it is supported on three short crouching bear-form feet, set to one side with a circular loop handle with a sharply upswept spur. It is finely carved with an archaistic design of a dragon in pursuit of a phoenix reserved on a ground of raised bosses bordered by narrow bands of coiled C-scrolls at the base and foot, the yellowish-green stone with russet inclusions. The present cup was acquired by the present owner, Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III, in 1978 from Fritz Low-Beer & Co., New York, who acquired it in 1950.
In the auction release, Sotheby’s drew several comparisons between the present cup and several other cups of this type. The auction house said, “In Alfred Salmony's posthumously published book ‘Chinese Jade Through the Wei Dynasty,’ New York, 1963, a number of cups of this type, including the present lot, are illustrated where the author advocates for a Wei dynasty, 4th to 6th century, attribution to the group. This theory was subsequently disproved following the discovery of a number of similar jade cups from later tombs, including one discovered near Beijing in 1962 in a tomb dated 1676, as recorded in Wenwu, 1963. The cup was incised with the name Lu Zigang, suggesting that it was carved by the renowned Suzhou jade carver active in the second half of the 16th century. In 1975, Max Loehr acknowledged the difficulty in attributing a firm date to this group when he illustrated a similar cup with a ‘Eastern Han or later’ attribution.”
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