Chinese Export porcelain was made specifically for the European market, and the tureens were especially popular in the 1760s. They were a very fashionable expression of mid eighteenth century rococo taste.
The subject was almost always based on European models, but this amazing ox head tureen has no European precedent! It is one of the rarest forms of Chinese Export tureens, and this is a beautiful example of a nearly pristine model. It includes the underdish, and it has no visible chips or repairs. These factors make this tureen all the more valuable and collectible. The last one on the market, in fact, was in the mid-nineties, where it was sold without the underdish and had restoration to the very fragile horns.
This one is a very vivid piece, painted in naturalistic tones: the head is a light russet-brown colour, the nose is a very rich brown, the horns are a dark grey, and his eyes are blue! The lid of the tureen is formed by the upper part of the ox's head. The lower part serves as the bowl. The underdish shows the ox head from above and is decorated with pink and gilt floral sprays.
In all, is not just a piece of decorative china. It is rare and beautiful; and it is important, not only because of its rarity, but also because it gives us a link to the past, a physical object that we can look at and appreciate for both its aesthetic qualities and for its historic value.