A VERY RARE GOLD AND SILVER-INLAID 'DOUBLE PHOENIX' VASE, ZUN
Ming dynastyCast in the form of two birds, joined side-by-side, their necks twisted with the undersides touching and their open beaks forming the mouth of the vase, one wing of each bird and one tail acting as supports, the four legs of the birds neatly tucked under the body, the crests, brows, feathers and plumage all crisply articulated and inlaid with gold and silver to provide a brilliant contrast against the dark-brown bronze. 6 3/4in (17.2cm) high
明 銅錯金銀雙連天雞尊Provenance:The Gertrude Strong Achilles (1860-1955) Collection, daughter of Henry Alvah Strong of Rochester NY, President of Eastman Kodak company from 1880-1919, and thence by descent.Gertrude Strong Achilles, known as the 'Kodak heiress' to her friends, was a world traveler - she recorded her travels to Japan in 1899 with her Kodak camera, and her trip to Egypt in 1926, among many others. She was known for her energy, good taste and passion for collecting. After the death of her husband, Henry Leslie Achilles in 1920, she moved to Morgan Hill, California, buying the Fountain Oaks ranch estate, where she lived until her death.Two similar examples in the collection of the Musée Cernuschi are illustrated in Michel Maucuer, Bronzes de la Chine impériale des Song aux Qing, Paris, 2013, nos. 46 and 47. The style of the inlay on the first example, dated 16th/17th century, is very similar to the inlay on the present lot.Birds such as these, called tianji, in Chinese, literally meaning heavenly fowl, but often translated as phoenix, have a long history of being cast in bronze. During the Zhou dynasty they took the form of vessels, see for example one illustrated in John Alexander Pope, et. al., The Freer Chinese Bronzes, Vol. I, Washington, 1967, pl. 106; and in the Han dynasty, examples were often made supporting vases on their back or with wheels. A Ming dynasty example of this sort of vessel was sold at Christie's, London, 15 May 2018, lot 77. The tianji continued to be a popular bronze motif in the Song dynasty and continued through to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Two Ming dynasty examples are in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, and illustrated in Through the Prism of the Past, Taipei, 2003, cat. nos III-42 and III-43. Double tianji of the form found in the present lot are relatively rare.