A FINELY-CARVED THREE-TIERED RED LACQUER BOX AND COVER
A FINELY-CARVED THREE-TIERED RED LACQUER BOX AND COVER
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A FINELY-CARVED THREE-TIERED RED LACQUER BOX AND COVER

MING DYNASTY, LATE 16TH-EARLY 17TH CENTURY

Details
A FINELY-CARVED THREE-TIERED RED LACQUER BOX AND COVER
MING DYNASTY, LATE 16TH-EARLY 17TH CENTURY
The square box has three compartments, each finely carved around the sides with scenes of scholars and other figures at various pursuits in landscape settings, the scenes framed by rocks and trees at the corners. The top of the cover is carved with Budai holding a staff standing beside a crane below a small crescent moon, all reserved on two diaper grounds indicating the earth and sky, and the lowest compartment is raised on a flared foot carved around the sides with a band of narrow, overlapping petals.
5 ¾ in. (14.8 cm.) high, Japanese wood box with inscriptions

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Michael Bass
Michael Bass

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Lot Essay

It is unusual to find landscapes rather than flowers carved on the sides of tiered boxes of this date. However, a four-tiered box and cover, also carved around the base with a shaped apron, in the collection of the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Carved Lacquer, The Tokugawa Art Museum and the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, October - November 1984, no. 134

The depiction of a single figure in a landscape on the cover of a box of this size also appears to be unusual. Single figures are more often found on small circular boxes, such as the box, also carved with Budai and a crane, illustrated in Ancient Chinese Arts in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1989, pl. 387. A three-tiered box and cover of very similar design was sold at Christie’s New York, 17 September 2008, lot 137. The unusual band of overlapping petals carved around the the foot can also be seen on another red lacquer three-tiered box and cover, of hexagonal form, carved with Budai, illustrated by Derek Clifford, Chinese Carved Lacquer, London, 1992, p. 61, pl. 37.

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