• Lot 1563

    AN VERY RARE AND IMPORTANT CARVED POLYCHROME LACQUER BOX AND COVER

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    AN VERY RARE AND IMPORTANT CARVED POLYCHROME LACQUER BOX AND COVER
    WANLI INCISED AND GILT YIWEI CYCLICAL DATE CORRESPONDING TO 1595, AND OF THE PERIOD

    The top of the canted rectangular cover superbly carved through thick layers of red, green, yellow and black lacquer with a large ogival barbed panel depicting an upright full-face five-clawed dragon holding a tray above its head supporting a Shou roundel flanked by Wan characters above a 'flaming pearl', all against a darker diaper wave pattern ground set below a yellow brocade sky with floral stems emerging from waves crashing against rockwork, the sloping sides with pomegranate, chrysanthemum and camellia floral sprays borne on undulating vine within borders of further undulating floral scroll, supported on a low foot encircled by a key-fret border, the undecorated base incised and gilt with the reign mark and cyclical date
    12 5/8 in. (32 cm,) wide, Japanese wood box


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    The inscription on the front of the Japanese box accompanying this is dated 15th July 1892 and signed Hisamoto. Hisamoto Hijikata (1833-1918) was born in Tosa province and fought against the Edo Shogunate during the Meiji Restoration. Following the Restoration he went on to work for the new Meiji Government and became an advisor to the Royal Family.

    The reverse bears an inscription indicating that the box was a gift in commemoration of the wedding of Yaeko, the sister of Viscountess Toyotada Hisamoto (1866-1912), to the Prince of Yorihito (1867-1922).

    A rectangular polychrome lacquer box and cover in The Palace Museum, Beijing, of similar size and the same cyclical date but with a slightly different design of a pair of confronting dragons covering the entire top of the cover is illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The complete collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2006, no. 169, Compare also a square carved cinnabar lacquer box also dated to 1595, with the same design, varying only in what the dragon is holding aloft, in this case, a cloud supporting a coin and millet stems, included in the 1993 joint Oriental Ceramics Society of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong Art Gallery exhibition, 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, illustrated in the catalogue no. 69. This type of box was clearly appreciated and collected by later Qing dynasty Emperors as evidenced by the poem of appreciation by the Qianlong Emperor accompanied by his seals incised on the interior of a Wanli-marked box and cover of very similar design to the present example but with a dragon and phoenix on the cover sold at Christie's Paris, 23 November 2004, lot 93.