• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1816

    AN EXTREMELY RARE AND SUPERBLY CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER SIX-TIERED BOX AND COVER

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EXTREMELY RARE AND SUPERBLY CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER SIX-TIERED BOX AND COVER
    YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)

    Of square section, the cover carved in deep relief to the buff-ground with two birds in flight, their feathers finely detailed with incised design, amidst a dense background of flowering peonies, the vertical sides of each tier carved with a different floral band including rose, hibiscus, prunus, mallow, and pomegranate, the petals and leaves delicately incised to depict the veining, all supported on a straight foot, the interiors and base applied with a brownish-black lacquer
    11 1/8 in. (28.2 cm.) high, box


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    This box is extremely rare and very few other examples of this six-tiered form appear to have been published. Compare with an example in the Kaisendo Museum, Yamagata Prefecture included in the 1984 Tokugawa and Nezu Museum exhibition, Carved Lacquer, and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 45. The Kaisendo box has five tiers but it is likely that it originally had six. The subject of two birds in flight amidst flowers and foliage was very popular during the Song and Yuan dynasties, and can be found most often in a circular composition such as on a dish or round box, where the bodies of the birds and their long flowing tail feathers form a circular motion. See, for example, the dish from the Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, signed by the famous Yuan dynasty lacquer carver Zhang Cheng, included in the same exhibition and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 52. A tray with a Yang Mao mark with a similar design was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2005, lot 1335. The boldness of the design and in particular the contrast between the sweeping deep carving and the delicately incised details is characteristic of the small group of wares carved with birds dating to the Yuan period.

    Provenance

    Previously sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 13 January 1987, lot 262


    Exhibited

    The Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, 1990, Dragon and Phoenix, Chinese Lacquer Ware, The Lee Family Collection, Catalogue no. 32
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 38