Ritual wine warmer with taotie


Historical period(s)
Early Shang dynasty, ca. 1600-1500 BCE
H x W x D: 15 x 13 x 13 cm (5 7/8 x 5 1/8 x 5 1/8 in)
China, Henan province, probably Zhengzhou
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 25: RESOUND: Bells of Ancient China
Metalwork, Vessel


casting, China, Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), taotie, wine, WWII-era provenance

From 1921
Abel William Bahr (1877-1959), Ridgefield, CT, from 1921 [1]

To about 1963
Edna H. Bahr, United States and England, acquired by descent from her father, Abel William Bahr, to about 1963 [2]

From about 1963
Christian Humann (died 1981), New York, purchased from Edna H. Bahr in about 1963 [3]

To 1986
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (born 1929), New York, purchased from Christian Humann as part of the Pan Asian Collection, to 1986 [4]

From 1986
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Robert Hatfield Ellsworth in 1986 [2]


[1] According to Curatorial Remark 6 in the object record: "The jue was originally in the collection of A.W. Bahr. It passed to his daughter, Edna Bahr. It had been in Billy's possession for many years, since 1921. It was in America until 1959, when Miss Bahr moved back to England. She sold it to Christian Humann in approximately 1963, and it came into the possession of the source when he purchased the Pan Asian Collection."

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 1929-2014
Abel William Bahr 1877-1959
Edna H. Bahr died 1978
Christian Humann died 1981


This jue, with its dramatically extended spout, is one of the most ancient bronzes in the collection. A pair of raised eyes surrounded by thin lines in relief represents a simple, early form of taotie.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Joseph Chang, Stephen Allee. Brushing the Past: Later Chinese Calligraphy from the Gift of Robert Haftield Ellsworth. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 30, fig. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum