MING DYNASTY, 16TH CENTURY
The lobed cup is naturalistically carved in unusually high relief in the form of a half open hibiscus, its fine overlapping petals curling inwards towards the pistil carved entirely in the round. The thick stem and a large bud form the openwork foot, while the handle is in the form of a sinuous dragon clambering up the stem of the flower. On the exterior of the cup, the branch, stems, leaves and buds stand out in strong, high relief from the delicate bloom.
The carving and subject of the present example is stylistically related to the rhyton in the collection of Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria (1529–1595) at Schloss Ambras, published in Jan Chapman’s book, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 234, Catalogue No. 336. The piece was catalogued as Folio 349 in Archduke Ferdinand II’s inventory when it was compiled after his death in 1596.
An English Private Collection