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A rare carved red lacquer ovoid box and cover

Lacquer box


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.