China, 1723-1735. The tall cup with deep rounded sides rising from a recessed base to a lipped rim, neatly mounted in finely gilt-bronze. The stand matching the cup perfectly, with an accurately carved circular recess to the top center, designed for the cup to fit in. Both carved from the same translucent pale gray stone showing characteristic jagged striations of cream, black, and honey tones, all quite typical for this specific material, which was much coveted at the Yongzheng court.
Provenance: From the personal collection of J. J. Lally, New York, USA. With two labels from J. J. Lally, each inscribed with the number '4359'. James J. Lally is a renowned antique dealer and expert, recognized as one of the greatest scholar-dealers of Chinese art, who has been a leader in the field for more than 40 years. After graduating from Harvard College and Columbia University, Lally joined Sotheby's where he held many positions within the Chinese art department. In 1970 he served as the director of Chinese works of art at Sotheby's in New York and Hong Kong, and by 1983 was named president of Sotheby's in North America. In 1986 he founded his namesake gallery, J. J. Lally & Co., at 41 East 57th Street in New York - just a few blocks away from the MoMA, to provide advisory services for keen collectors. Lally fondly recalls the moment, not long after he opened his gallery, when a young man walked through the door with a Shang Dynasty gong—a bronze vessel shaped like a gravy boat—decorated with a dragon and tiger and in beautiful condition. It was, Lally described, “one of the most important objects I ever had in my hands.” The young man said he had inherited it from his father and was not really interested in Chinese art himself. He wanted to buy a sailboat and wondered if the gong was valuable enough to pay for that. “I was very happy to tell him that it was valuable enough to buy two sailboats,” Lally noted. The gallery helped to establish New York as a major center of commerce for Chinese art and allowed Lally to concentrate on his own specific interests, particularly early ceramics, ritual bronze vessels, archaic jade carvings and sculpture. Lally brought a learned approach to his work, publishing detailed, scholarly catalogs that have remained important reference guides within the field. This meticulous approach continued when he produced his own exhibitions and catalogs. Giuseppe Eskenazi, dubbed the “Godfather of Chinese Antiques,” and one of the world's most esteemed Chinese art dealers, also spoke highly of Lally for his achievements in the industry, alongside William Chak from Hong Kong, and the Marchant family from London. In the spring of 2023, Christie's and Bonhams conducted single owner sales of Lally's collection which broke several auction records.
Condition: The cup in fair condition, commensurate with age, showing expected minor wear, the stone with natural fissures, some of which have developed into minor hairlines and a star crack below the rim. The matching saucer is in absolutely perfect condition.
Weight: 39.1 g
Dimensions: Height 4.6 cm