Qing Dynasty, 18th Century
The present pair of ivory panels is a rare example of 18th century ivory carving, possibly the product of the skilled artisans working in the ivory workshops in Guangdong where the majority of tributary ivory carvings were made for the Imperial court. Among the various crafts in Guangdong, ivory carving was one of the most technically advanced. With the lifting of the ban on maritime trade with foreign countries in 1684, there was an increase in ivory imports providing sufficient raw material for the development of ivory carving for the region. Guangzhou rapidly became the centre of this industry attracting craftsmen who combined their traditional carving skills with this precious imported material. Ivory carvers became renowned for their skills for producing beautifully carved work which was presented to the Qing court as tribute from the officials in the South. The most accomplished carvers were ordered to work in the Imperial Palace Workshop in the Forbidden City and imperial records show that by the 7th year of Qianlong's reign (equivalent to 1742 AD), 'Guangdong ivory artisans were in complete control of the Imperial Workshop and monopolised the production of ivory items in the Palace'. (Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 1987, p. 64)
The meticulous carving of this panel together with the subtle colours used, bringing out the elegance of the ivory, attest to the high level of workmanship, not dissimilar to that found in the Palace Workshop. See a polychrome ivory panel carved with meiren figures enjoying leisurely pursuits in a courtyard garden setting, from the Qing Court collection and now in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji, vol. 11, Beijing, 1987, pl. 104, together with another ivory carved panel depicting three boys playing, pl. 103.
An ivory panel depicting scenes of the Eastern Sea with the Eight Immortals was sold in these rooms, 2nd December 1997, lot 67; and another magnificent panel with a scene inspired by the landscape of the Whampoa (Huangpu) region in Guangdong, was sold in our London rooms, 12th July 2006, lot 74.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale