Bronze and part gilt covered censer
Ming dynasty, Xuande mark, 17th century, China
Height: 26 cm, 10.2 inches
Elliptical in cross section and having everted lip, the body of the censer features as a continuous frieze in high relief. The upper section of the censer is decorated in open cloud work depicting two dragons, symbolising masculinity, and two phoenixes, symbolising femininity, embellished with gold splashes. From the centre of the censer rises a reticulated shaped ball of clouds from which a dragon peers outwards over the length of the censer.
On the lower portion of both the censer's shorter sides are separately cast and attached lion heads. Below a lower band of solid metal the frieze depicts mythical sea creatures cavorting amidst turbulent waves, accentuated with gold splashes. The censer is raised on a multitier pedestal, which is embellished by a band of lappets in the form of stylized lotus petals. The base of the censer is recessed from the foot ring and within a stylised lotus base. The base has a Xuande mark.
Later Chinese Bronzes by The Saint Louis Art Museum and Robert E. Kresko Collections, 2008. Pg 100-104, No18.