The present tray carved in this mature Yuan style, where the design is beautifully laid out and the carving highly accomplished, developed from much simpler Song prototypes. To follow the development, it is interesting to compare examples of Song dynasty lacquerware with flower designs included in the exhibition The Colours and Forms of Song and Yuan China: Featuring Lacquerwares, Ceramics and Metalwares, Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, Tokyo, 2004, cat.nos. 94, 97 and 98, and a more direct example of a tray carved with luscious leaves, flowers and bamboo, similarly attributed to the Yuan period, cat.no. 95.
See also a 14th century cinnabar lacquer dish carved in the same style with blooming flowers and large curling leaves, formerly in the collections of Professor E. Balla and Dr. W. Balla and later in the British Rail Pension Fund, sold in our London rooms, 12th December 1978, lot 251 and again, 12th December 1989, lot 41.
The Yuan carving style influenced early Ming lacquer designs; see a Yongle dish carved with stems, leaves and overlapping flowers, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Ancient Chinese Lacquerware, Beijing, 1987, pl. 50.
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