A carved cinnabar lacquer circular box and cover, 17th century. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby’s.
of large circular form, the flat upper surface carved with a scholar seated under a large pine tree with a curved ruyi stalk in his hand, two assistants sitting nearby, one brewing tea, the other washing an inkstone, the landscape laden with jagged cliffs and rockwork, all against a diapered ground, the straight sides deftly carved through the rich cinnabar to the ochre ground with a composite floral scroll including prunus, chrysanthemum, peony and camellia blossoms, the box similarly carved with a leafy floral scroll, the interior and base lacquered black; 24.7 cm., 9 3/4 in.
EXHIBITED: 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1993, cat. no. 75.
Layered Beauty: The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2010, cat. no. 49.
Notes: Finely carved with scholars in a landscape setting, this box is notable for the illusion of vast space which has been created through the overlapping mountains that appear to float and recede into the distance, a technique commonly employed in landscape painting.
Compare a related box of smaller dimensions similarly depicting a scholar sitting leisurely in a garden, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Anthology of Chinese Art. Ming Lacquer, vol. 5, Fuzhou, 1995, pl. 158. See also a dish carved with a scholar gazing into the distance from a pavilion, illustrated in Karamono. Imported Lacquerwork. Chinese, Korean and Ryukyuan, Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, 1997, pl. 63; and a rectangular tray, decorated with scholars gathered in a garden, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Shanghai, 2006, pl. 193. For a prototype of this type of box see one, attributed to the Yongle period (1403-24), in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, published in Hai-wai yi-chen. Qiqi /Chinese Art in Overseas Collections. Lacquerware, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, pl. 108.
Sotheby’s. The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Part 2. Hong Kong | 08 oct. 2014, 11:00 AM