• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1827

    A RARE AND FINELY CARVED MING CINNABAR LACQUER TABLE SCREEN

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A RARE AND FINELY CARVED MING CINNABAR LACQUER TABLE SCREEN
    HONGZHI PERIOD (1488-1505)

    The rectangular panel with wooden body and canted corners, carved on both sides with intricate pictorial scenes through layers of cinnabar lacquer, depicting a procession of officials on horseback with attendants arriving at a grand mansion by a riverbank, set within a walled garden with lush trees, bridges and pavilions, with further figures in the buildings attending various activities, in the distance with mountains amidst clouds and birds, rendering the legendary Western Han scene Zouma zhangtai jie, 'Passing through Zhangtai Street on horseback', enclosed within a later silver wire inlaid zitan frame and stand
    25 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 8 7/16 in. (64.2 x 37 x 21.7 cm.) with stand, box


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    The scenes appear to be based on the fabled tale of Zouma zhangtai jie, 'Passing through Zhangtai Street on horseback' dated to the Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 8) which relates to the story of Emperor Xuan's official Zhang Chang (91-49 BC) who was reputed to have ridden through Zhangtai Street, one of the main thoroughfares with many houses of pleasure in the Han capital of Chang'an (present day Xi'an) after reporting to the Emperor.

    Two signed lacquer pieces dated to the Hongzhi period (1488-1505), both in the public collections, have helped to accurately date the current lot. The first is a carved lacquer screen in the Tokyo National Museum collection, illustrated in Hai-wai Yi-chen: Chinese Art in Overseas Collections-Lacquerware, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, no. 116, bearing an inscription Pingliang Wang Dan dao, 'Carved by Wang Dan of Pingliang'. The second example is a round dish in the British Museum, with a dated inscription Hongzhi er nian Pingliang Wang Ming dao, 'Carved by Wang Ming of Pingliang on the second year of Hongzhi', corresponding to 1489, illustrated by Derek Clifford, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1992, pl.58. The decorative style on both the screen and the round dish is consistent with the scene on the present lot, which strongly suggests a Hongzhi dating for the present screen.

    The carving on the present double-sided screen is superb, with much attention paid to the detailing of the palatial architectural features, extensive garden scene and figural movement including the horses. Compare also to a Hongzhi brown lacquer dish, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2005, lot 1691.

    Literature

    Hai-wai Yi-chen: Chinese Art in Overseas Collections-Lacquerware, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, no.82
    Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, Vol. 5, Ming, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 1995, pp. 49-50, no.49
    Zhongguo Qiqi Jinghua, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 2000, pl. 200


    Exhibited

    Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1977, Oriental Lacquer Arts, Catalogue, no. 522
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1982, Far Eastern Lacquer, Catalogue, no. 20
    The Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, 1990, Dragon and Phoenix, Chinese Lacquer Ware, The Lee Family Collection, Catalogue, no. 51
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 59