Ming dynasty, 16th century
Diameter: 4 3/8 in, 11.2 cm
the U-shaped sides rise from a stepped foot ring and end in an everted lip. A broad frieze of two birds, branches of camellia and prunus, and rocks against a rosette diaper ground is carved between bands of key-fret around the lip and wavy petals around the foot. The interior and base are lacquered black.
Provenance: Madame Wannieck, Paris, 1942.
For similar examples, see Carved Lacquer in the Collection of the Palace Museum, pls. 254–5; Garner, Chinese Lacquer, no. 70, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Kopplin, Im Zeichen des Drachen: Von der Schönheit chinesischer Lacker, Hommage an Fritz Löw-Beer, no. 66, p. 150, in the collection of the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart; and McElney, Inaugural Exhibition (Volume 2: Chinese Metalwares and Decorative Arts), no. 321, p. 134.
Width: 4 1/8 in, 10.5 cm
of peach shape with a flat base. The top is carved with a similarly shaped medallion of two peaches surrounded by five bats (Wu fu) against a ground of scrolling waves, all within a narrow border of scrolling foliage. The sides of both the box and cover are carved with a hexagonal rosette diaper. The interior and base are lacquered black.
The combination of peaches and bats represents a wish for blessings and longevity (Fushou shuangquan). Wu fu (The five blessings) are longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death.
For small red lacquer boxes of this form, see Chinese Lacquer in the Palace Museum Collection, no. 60; and Chu, Auspicious Emblems: Chinese Cultural Treasures – 45th Anniversary Exhibition of the Min Chiu Society, no. 112, p. 207.
Ming dynasty, 16th century
Diameter: 4 5/8 in, 11.8 cm
the U-shaped vessel has a flared rim and is supported on a broad, straight foot. The sides are finely carved with a frieze of two crested, long-tailed birds perched in leafy, flowering prunus branches, reserved against a floral lozenge diaper, above a wavy petal band. The rim and foot are each carved with a band of key-fret. The interior and base are lined with beaten silvered copper.
For similar examples, see Carved Lacquer in the Collection of the Palace Museum, pls. 254 and 255; Chinese Antiquities from the Brian S. McElney Collection, no. 141, p. 198; Garner, Chinese Lacquer, pl. 70, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum; and Kopplin, Im Zeichen des Drachen: Von der Schönheit chinesischer Lacker, Hommage an Fritz Löw-Beer, no. 66, p. 150.
Ming dynasty, 16th century
Diameter: 3 1/8 in, 7.9 cm
of circular form with straight sides. The top is carved in deep relief with a scholar and two attendants in a landscape setting with rocks and trees, all against a floral diaper ground. The scholar wears long robes, tied at the waist, and a tall hat, and holds a scroll in his right hand. One attendant carries a parasol and the other a wrapped qin, and both wear tunics over trousers. The box is carved with leafy branches of camellia against the same diaper ground. The interior is lacquered black.
For similar examples, with a figural scene carved on the cover and flowers on the box, see Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors: Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, nos. 76 and 77, p. 88; Frick, Chinesische Lackkunst: Eine deutsche Privatsammlung, no. 22, p. 53; Garner, Chinese and Associated Lacquer from the Garner Collection, no. 50, pl. 26b; and Kopplin, Im Zeichen des Drachen: Von der Schönheit chinesischer Lacker, Hommage an Fritz Löw-Beer, no. 54, pp. 134–5.
Ming dynasty, 16th century
Height: 4 3/4 in, 12.1 cm
the U-shaped lacquer box is supported on a very short, spreading foot; the cover is of conforming shape with a gently domed top. The sides of both the vessel and cover are carved with leafy lychee on a rosette diaper between bands of wavy lappets and key-fret. The top is similarly decorated with lychee issuing from rocks. The interior and base are lacquered black, now faded.
Formerly in a Japanese private collection.
This form is very rare, but for the subject on other Ming carved red lacquers, see Brandt, Chinesische Lackarbeiten, no. 57, pp. 106–07, a pair of bowls; Carved Lacquer in the Collection of the Palace Museum, no. 122, a rectangular box; Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors: Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, nos. 48 and 49, p. 66, two circular boxes; Garner, Chinese Lacquer, pl. 64, a circular box in the collection of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm; and Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, Vol. 5, no. 78, p. 78, a tiered box in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.
Diameter: 11 1/2 in, 29.2 cm
with shallow S-form sides and a broad foot ring. The well is carved with a central blossom, from which leaves alternating with a tied geometric motif issue, surrounded by a frieze of eight flower sprays, chrysanthemum, peony, aster, poppy, lotus, camellia, prunus and rose, and further tied geometric motifs, all reserved against a rosette diaper ground and enclosed by a geometric border. The cavetto is carved with leafy lotus against the same diaper ground between cloud-lappet borders, the exterior sides with more elaborate lotus above a band of wavy lappets, and the foot rim with key-fret. The rim is bound with gilt-metal imitating bamboo, and the base is lacquered black.
For similar examples, see Carved Lacquer in the Collection of the Palace Museum, no. 360; and Wu, Masterpieces of Chinese Carved Lacquer Ware in the National Palace Museum, pl. 31.
13 ¾ in, 35 cm square
of square section with cloud-lappet corners and straight sides supported on four bracket feet, set slightly back from the corners. The centre of the cover is set with a raised panel, the form of which imitates that of the box. The top is painted in muted, earthy colours and gilding on a red ground with leafy melon scroll, and four butterflies around the central panel, and with scrolling lotus to the corners. The sides are similarly decorated with panels of scrolling lotus alternating with small four-petalled blossoms enclosed by geometric fretwork to the cover, above a key-fret band to the box. The box is fitted with nine shaped black lacquer trays painted with lotus sprays; the interior and base are lacquered black.
A very similar lacquer box is illustrated in Chinesische Kunst, no. 777; and note a related painted lacquer example in Ho and Bronson, Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, no. 317, p. 248. Such boxes can also be found in other materials: see, for example, Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, no. 85, p. 93, in zitan; Liu, Lushun Museum, p. 97, in lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl; and Yang, Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, no. 49, p. 87, in painted enamel.
Length: 10 3/4 in, 27.3 cm
supported on bracket feet, the walls flare steeply to everted, flat rims with indented corners. The sides are carved with panels of flowers, including prunus, rose, peony and camellia, and lingzhi fungus, against a green rosette diaper ground, all against scrolling lotus on a plain green ground. The rims are incised with bands of key-fret, and shou (longevity) characters and geometric diaper. The interiors and bases are lacquered black.
Such jardinières are more often found decorated with panels of figures in landscapes: see, for example, Kwan, Chinese Lacquer, no. 106, pp. 296–7; and Wu, Masterpieces of Chinese Carved Lacquer Ware in the National Palace Museum, no. 50.
Early 19th century
Length: 7 1/2 in, 19 cm
Of rectangular form. The cover is carved with an elaborate scene of figures in pavilions, on terraces and in a boat, with various plants and trees, including banana and wutong, enclosed by a narrow border simulating bamboo, a frieze of floral scroll and a wider bamboo border. The sides of the box are carved with four similar panels, and the sides of the cover with narrow landscapes, all separated by narrow borders of blossoms and simulated bamboo.
Formerly in an English private collection.
For similar examples, see Allen, “Sir Victor Sassoon and his Ivories”, fig. 11, p. 104; Tardy, Les Ivoires, figs. 2 and 3, p. 283, in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul; and Watson, Chinese Ivories from the Shang to the Qing, no. 260, pp. 184–5, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.