The closest comparison of this sumptuous arrangement of 'boxes within a box' is the pair of musical-stone shaped boxes in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing. Contained within each of the Palace Museum boxes are four similarly lacquered smaller containers (fig.1); both sets of boxes were included in the exhibition, Views of Antiquity in the Qing Imperial Palace, Macao Museum of Art, 2006, and illustrated in the Catalogue, p. 326, no. 116. A comparable example of this same penta-lobe shaped box enclosing an inner set of two-tiered boxes, but seemingly lacking the compartmental boxes, is illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan Cang Diaoqi, 'Carved Lacquer in the Collection of the Palace Museum', 1985, no. 298.
The shape of the present boxes with their five lobed sides is often refered to by its Chinese term: meihua xing, in reference to the five-petal prunus flower. It is interesting to note the use of the tianqi (filled in) lacquer technique as it provides an attractive visual contrast to the carved cinnabar lacquer exterior. The tianqi work executed on the interior boxes is comparable to a number of examples dated to the mid-Qing period in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, Lacquerware, vol. 6, Qing, Fujiang meishu chubanshe, 1993, no. 95, a rectangular box; and a two-tiered box, no. 101.
See a comparable pair of imperial boxes with two floral-lobed trays decorated with polychrome lacquer executed in the tianqi method sold in Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2006, lot 1281. See also a comparable single box sold in Christie's Hong Kong, 28 May 2014, lot 3336.