• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1829


    Price Realised  


    JIAJING PERIOD (1522-1566)

    Each of rectangular section with detachable front panels concealing ten graduated drawers, carved through layers of red, green and yellow lacquer, on one box with peony among rockwork enclosed in reserved roundels on the top, rear and sides, the front panel with a pair of confronted phoenixes below a fu, fortune, character within an ogival reserved panel with emblems and bajixiang to each corner, the other chest carved with similar phoenix-pattern to the top, rear and sides below individual characters collectively reading Yongchang Shenshou, Everlasting Longevity, the front panel with similar peony-pattern with four emblems to the corners, both chests with plinth bases with lotus petal design
    Each 9 3/4 x 10 5/8 x 7 1/2 in. (24.7 cm. x 27 x 19 cm.), box (2)

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    The present two carved red, green and yellow lacquer stationery chests were formerly in the collection of H.R.H Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, sister-in-law of King George VI. Prior to being in the collection of the English Royal family it is likely that they would have been wedding gifts for an important female member of the Chinese Imperial Court, probably the Empress, as the phoenix design depicted on all sides of one box is symbolic of the Empress and the feminine principle, Yin.

    Compare with a related unmarked Jiajing period stationery chest decorated with a pair of confronted dragons in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 178, no. 136 (fig. 1). A similar box decorated with dragons in the Kaisendo Museum was included in the exhibition, Carved Lacquer, Kaisendo Museum, Yamagata, 1974, fig. 67.


    H.R.H. Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
    H.R.H. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester
    Previously sold at Christie's London, 8 June 1987, lot 141


    Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, vol. 5, Ming, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 1995, nos. 119 and 120
    Zhongguo Qiqi Jinghua, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 2003, 197 (phoenix box)


    London Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition, The Arts of the Ming Dynasty, 1957, illustrated in the Catalogue, nos. 257 and 258 (lent by the Duke of Gloucester)
    Tokugawa Art Museum and Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, 1984, Carved Lacquer, Catalogue, no. 191.
    The Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, 1990, Dragon and Phoenix, Chinese Lacquer Ware, The Lee Family Collection, Catalogue, nos. 52 and 53
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, nos. 86 and 87
    Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1993, 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Catalogue, no. 54 (phoenix box)