Details such as the vase and flower blooms embody the superb level of workmanship achieved by craftsmen working in the lacquer medium during the Kangxi reign. Panels of this type were probably made in the Lacquer Workshop belonging to the Zaobanchu (Imperial Palace Workshop), which was formally re-established on the 32nd year of the Kangxi reign, corresponding to 1693, and located within the Forbidden City near the Emperor’s private residences. Staffed with the most experienced and skilled craftsmen in charge of producing the finest works of art and furnishings for the Palace, this close proximity allowed the emperor to scrutinise their products closely, thus ensuring high standards.
Panels of this type are very rare and the present piece represents one of the earliest examples of wall panels which grew in popularity in the succeeding Yongzheng (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796) reigns. Compare furniture decorated with the qianjin and tianqi technique and attributed to the Kangxi reign, such as a pair of chairs, the splat incised with birds perched on flower sprays, from the Manno Art Museum, Osaka, sold in these rooms, 10th April 2006, lot 1820; a stand decorated with dragons, sold in our London rooms, 9th November 2011, lot 38; and a throne, from the Arthur M. Sackler collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 1st December 1994, lot 173, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29th May 2007, lot 1395.
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