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
With a padded silk box and cover. (3)
The appreciation of the agate stone saw a revival during the Yongzheng reign. Records in the archives of the Imperial Jade Workshops, yuzuo, dated 1724-1729, noted that the Yongzheng emperor ordered for agate brush washers and bowls to be kept undecorated in order to show the original pattern of the agate stone. Pieces with 'intricate' designs or of unsatisfactory quality were rejected and sent back to the Imperial Palace Workshops.
The Imperial collections in Taipei and Beijing hold a number of extant agate vessels, bearing the Yongzheng mark and of the period; see Feng Mingzhu, Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, Taipei, 2009, pp. 235-245. Compare an agate cup and dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Yang Boda, Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, Hebei, 2005, pp. 553 and 550, nos. 10 and 62. Also compare an agate bowl from the Yongzheng period in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, image number K1D000405N000000000PAB.
Auction result comparison:
Type: Closely related
Auction: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2014, lot 3774
Price: HKD 1,060,000 or approx. EUR 154,000 converted and adjusted for inflation at the time of writing
Description: A rare agate cup incised seal mark and period of Yongzheng
Expert remark: Compare the related form and size. Note the present Yongzheng reign mark and the missing cup-stand.
來源：紐約 J. J. Lally私人收藏，J. J. Lally留下兩個標籤，上面都寫著 '4359'。James J. Lally是一位著名的古董商和專家，被公認為中國藝術最偉大的儒商之一。四十多年來，他一直是該領域的領導者。從哈佛大學和哥倫比亞大學畢業後，Lally加入蘇富比中國藝術部門並擔任多個職位。1970年，他擔任紐約和香港蘇富比中國藝術品總監，並於1983年被任命為蘇富比北美區總裁。1986 年，他在紐約東 57 街 41 號（距現代藝術博物館僅幾個街區）創立了同名畫廊 J. J. Lally & Co.，為收藏家提供諮詢服務。Lally深情地回憶起藝廊開張不久，一位年輕人拿著商代銅器（刻有龍虎圖案的青銅器皿，狀態良好）走進門的那一刻。 “這是我手中最重要的物品之一。” 這位年輕人說，他是從父親那裡繼承的，他自己對中國藝術並不真正感興趣。他想買一艘帆船，不知道這銅器是否值錢。”我很高興告訴他，它的價值足以購買兩艘帆船，” Lally告訴他。該藝廊幫助紐約成為中國藝術的主要商業中心，並使Lally能夠專注於自己的興趣，特別是早期陶瓷、青銅禮器、古代玉雕和造像。Lally為出版了詳細的學術目錄，這些目錄至今仍然是該領域的重要參考，他被譽為“中國古董教父”。全球最受尊敬的中國藝術品經銷商之一的Giuseppe Eskenazi 與香港的 William Chak 和倫敦的 3月ant 家族一樣，也高度評價了 Lally的成就。2023年春季，佳士得和邦瀚斯對拉利的藏品進行了拍賣，打破了多項拍賣記錄。
台北和北京的故宮收藏有許多現存的雍正款及年代瑪瑙器皿，參見馮明珠，《Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times》，台北，2009年，頁235-245。 比較一件瑪瑙杯盤，北京故宮博物院藏，見楊伯達著，《中國玉器全集》，河北，2005年，頁553和550，編號10 與 62。比較另一件雍正時期瑪瑙碗，藏於台北故宮博物院，圖號K1D000405N000000000PAB。
價格：HKD 1,060,000（相當於今日EUR 154,000）