The diverse color palette of enamels during the Qianlong period allowed for greater creativity and flexibility in painted decoration. Trompe-l'oeil decoration transformed works into playful, if not deceiving objects, transforming porcelain into seemingly richly brocaded fabrics, beautifully grained dark woods, and endless decorative schemes meant to simulate a variety of materials.
Compare the Qianlong-marked porcelain box bearing a Leshantang mark, and with similar gilt-decorated 'brocade' covers in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 39 - Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, no. 147. The Palace Museum box consists of a single stack of books, as opposed to two stacks as seen on the present pair. Other Leshantang-marked trompe-l'oeil porcelain book-form boxes have been sold, including a famille rose example consisting of a stack of two books with pink and lilac-ground 'brocade' sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 30 May 2006, lot 1235, and a faux bois box in the form of a single stack of books sold in our London rooms, 10 May 2011, lot 255.