|18th Century Ox Head Rhyton Cup (GFM051312)
|c. 1890-1810s, late 18th – early 19th century
Qianlong – Jiaqing period, Qing dynasty
Porcelain with overglaze enamels
H: 11.5 cm / 4.5 in, W: 6.5 cm / 2.6 in (Ox head alone)
H: 15 cm / 5.9 in, W: 18.3 cm / 7.2 in (Ox head on display stand)
From a San Francisco private collection, ex-Sotheby’s New York, ex-Bluett & Sons London
A rare mid-Qing polychrome enameled rhyton / stirrup cup in the form of an ox head, with curved horns covered with aubergine colored glaze and joined with a raised rope of green hue, the eyes wide open above a green rope leading to the animals nostril on one side, and the fur depicted by a brown-orange tone wash with small lines.
This unusual form is based on the 18-19th century European stirrup cup, which in turn was derived from the even earlier Greecian rhyton cups. Generally in the form of animal heads, these cups were designed to amuse and delight in the uproarious consumption of alcohol. They were often used during aristocratic hunts, during which riders—still in their stirrups—would be presented with punch.