• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1815


    Price Realised  

    YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)

    The cover deeply carved through the layers of cinnabar lacquer with a pair of sinuous four-clawed dragons confronting a 'flaming pearl' amongst stylised ruyi-shaped cloud scrolls, against a ground of freely carved humped waves, all framed within a border of crashing waves, the vertical sides carved with a band of lingzhi, the interiors and the base applied with a dark brown lacquer
    10 in. (25.3 cm.) diam., Japanese wood box

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    Dragons of the Yuan period are particularly distinctive as they often appear, most frequently on ceramics, with relatively small heads, antler-like horns, bulging eyes and long snouts. Compare with striding dragons painted on the well-known pair of 'David Vases', dated to 1351, illustrated by R. Scott, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1989, p. 67, no. 55; and upright dragons on a 'pilgrim' flask, formerly from the Sir Harry Garner and F. Gordon Morrill collection, sold by Messrs Doyle, New York, 16 September 2003, lot 74. The necks of these mythical creatures are characteristically narrow and their bodies widen between the fore and hind legs. As these mythical creatures are portrayed with their mouths agape exposing protruding tongues, their expressions are often lively and quizzical. As well as dragons painted on the ceramic examples cited above compare also those depicted on Song and Yuan textiles. Cf. the dragon embroidered on a costume of a Buddhist guardian figure, in the Museum of History, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, textiles, vol. 7, 1987, p. 21, no. 22; and also on a kesi dated to the Northern Song dynasty, illustrated in Possessing the Past - Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, New York, 1996, p. 250, pl. 128.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the estimate in US dollars should read: 77,000-100,000.


    The Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, 1990, Dragon and Phoenix, Chinese Lacquer Ware, The Lee Family Collection, Catalogue, no. 38
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 43