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    Sale 2711

    The Imperial Sale, Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    27 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1812

    A RARE PAIR OF IMPERIAL ZITAN INCENSE STANDS, FANGXIANGJI

    Price Realised  

    A RARE PAIR OF IMPERIAL ZITAN INCENSE STANDS, FANGXIANGJI
    QING DYNASTY, 18TH CENTURY

    Each with the rectangular panel top set within a wide lipped-edge frame carved along the sides with small cartouches of floral scrolls on a lattice ground, above a border of carved lotus petal lappets containing further small blossoms repeated below the waist, the curvilinear beaded apron elegantly carved with floral scrolls contained within ruyi-head shaped borders, joined to the slender angular cabriole legs ending in upturned leaf feet on ball pads, set into a rectangular platform base with a plain panel above aprons in relief repeating the ruyi-head and floral scroll design
    34 1/2 x 21 1/4 x 14 3/8 in.(87.6 x 54 x 36.5 cm.) (2)


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    While some Imperial zitan furniture was produced at the Beijing Palace Workshops, many pieces were also crafted in Guangdong and Suzhou specifically for the Qing Court. In Notable Features of Main Schools of Ming and Qing Furniture, Hong Kong, 2001, pp. 98-121, Tian Jiaqing discussed the characteristics specific to some regions of manufacture of imperial zitan furniture. The author illustrates, p. 99, a very similar zitan stand, which is noted to have been kept at the Summer Palace in Beijing, and states that zitan furniture of this type was produced in Guangdong and is characterised by an upward and downward lotus pattern at the waist. The illustrated example and the current pair of stands share in common a nearly identical floral scroll on the legs and shoulder, and a very similar upward and downward lotus lappet pattern on either side of the waist. Tian also noted that Qing Court zitan is always properly polished on all sides, including those areas not intended for viewing. Consistent with this statement, the exteriors and undersides of the current stands are fully finished.

    A documentary zitan tea table with several features closely related to that of the current lot is illustrated by W. M. Drummond 'Chinese Furniture: The Sackler Collections', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Summer 1993, p.64. While of a square form with straight legs, the table has an identical ruyi-head at the top of each leg, enclosing a nearly identical floral scroll, and a similar band of lappets carved below the waist. The inscription on the table is dated to the tenth year of the Qianlong reign, corresponding to 1745, and the text places it in the Yang Xin Dian, 'Hall of Mental Cultivation', in the Forbidden Palace, Beijing.

    A high-waisted stand of very similar form, dated to the Qianlong period was included in the exhibition, Zitan: The Most Noble Hardwood, and illustrated in the Catalogue, Taipei, 1996, pp. 142-3, where it is noted that stands 'of such a refined nature are exceedingly rare'. Another very similar high waisted stand was sold at Christie's New York, 17 September 2008, lot 163. See also, a pair of a similar zitan stands sold at Christie's London, 12 July 2005, lot 149; an example, though missing its base stretcher, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 21 September 2006, lot 37; and another was at Christie's New York, 18 March 2009, lot 661.

    Provenance

    A European private collection


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN