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A painted red lacquer box with interior fittings

Lacquer box


Circa 1800
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.