• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1802

    A RARE BLACK LACQUER BOWLSTAND, ZHANTUO

    Price Realised  

    A RARE BLACK LACQUER BOWLSTAND, ZHANTUO
    YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)

    The upper section with gently rounded sides forming a receptacle with a slightly inverted mouth rim, the hollow interior continuing to a splayed cylindrical foot, below a flange with a gently upturned rim, covered overall with a rich brownish-black lacquer, the mouth, flange and foot rims bound with metal
    6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm.) wide, Japanese wood box


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    The function of the bowlstand is very similar to that of a saucer. As steaming bowls of tea had no handles, they were placed on stands when served, so as not to burn the fingers of the recipient, and also to provide a stable support for bowls which often have narrow bases. A related example of a plain brown lacquer bowlstand, supported on a slightly higher foot ring, excavated in the Yixing district, Jiangsu province, is illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol. 8, Lacquerware, Wenwu chubanshe, 1989, no. 93. Also compare a similar black lacquer bowlstand with a bracket-lobed petal-form flange, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29/30 April 2001, lot 628. A painting of The Eighteen Scholars of the Tang in the Palace Museum Taipei traditionally attributed to the Emperor Huizong illustrated in The National Palace Museum Painting Catalogue, Volume 15, pp. 351-358, depicts the use of black lacquer cupstands used in conjunction with what appear to be Jianyao teabowls to serve tea. This unusual form is derived from a shape much favoured by Song dynasty aesthetics as evidenced by ceramic examples such as the Ru ware cup-stand with bow-shaped petals, in the British Museum, illustrated by J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, 1992, p. 244, fig. 179, where the author stated that the lacquer version was marginally higher in status than Ru ware. This form also appeared in Qingbai wares and was depicted in a well-known late Song painting, Night Entertainment of Han Xizai, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Wu Hung, The Double Screen: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting, p. 31, fig. 13. An example of this form of bowlstand appears as part of a table setting surrounded by gentlemen officials in a drinking scene. A lacquer bowlstand is also depicted on a wall painting from an 11th-12th century Liao dynasty tomb in Hebei province, showing the preparation and drinking of tea, illustrated by J. Rawson (ed.), ibid., 1992, fig. 154. A Yuan bracket-lobed black lacquer bowlstand of similar size and shape is in the collection of Los Angeles County Museum, illustrated in Hai-wai Yi-chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections: Lacquerware, Taibei, 1987, no. 24. A brown lacquer cupstand with bracket lobed rim dated to the Song period is illustrated by C. Shangraw, 'Chinese Lacquers in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco', Orientations, April, 1986, p. 28. The San Francisco example has slightly different proportions (18.4 cm. diam., and 8.4 cm. high), eight lobes and the bowl has an inverted rim.

    Exhibited

    Kyoto Chadou Sogou Kaikan: Ten Year Anniversary Special Exhibition, 1989, Cha No Yu no Shiki, 'Lacquer Ware for Tea Ceremony', Catalogue, no. 80
    The Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, 1990, Dragon and Phoenix, Chinese Lacquer Ware, The Lee Family Collection, Catalogue, no. 22
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 10
    The Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, Tokyo, 2004, The Colors and Forms of Song and Yuan China, Catalogue, no. 156