The various themes of longevity on boxes of this type, with the large central Chun character, indicate that they were made for birthday celebrations or were commissioned by the emperor to be given away on the occasion of a birthday. The size of the boxes varies from about 31 cm. to 39 cm., but the composition remains the same for all boxes.
A similar box and cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol. 8, Lacquer, Beijing, 1989, pl. 172; one from the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, was included in the Special Exhibition of Palace Lacquer Objects, Taiwan, 1981, Catalogue no. 67, together with the Jiajing prototype of this box, no. 37; one from the Avery Brundage Colelction, is illustrated by Sir Harry Garner, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, p. 148, fig. 90; an example from the Manno Art Museum was sold in these Rooms, 28 October 2002, lot 568; and another was sold in our New York Rooms, 21 September 2004, lot 84.
For another Jiajing prototype, see the Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits from the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, vol. IV, Miscellaneous, Nanjing, 1936, p. 87, fig. 4. It is interesting to note that the later Qianlong examples were specifically commissioned to emulate the quality and elaborate use of the different lacquer colours on the Ming prototype.