A GILT-DECORATED LANDSCAPE IMPERIAL SCREEN QING DYNASTY, YONGZHENG PERIOD
Removed from Beijing in 1900 and brought to France.
General Léopold Davout d'Auerstaedt (1829-1904), France.
Many Japanese lacquers were imported into China during the sixteenth and seventeen centuries. During the Yongzheng reign, the court workshops were encouraged to make lacquers in the Japanese style, known in Chinese as yangqi, 'foreign-style lacquers'. The Yongzheng emperor was noted to have been quite fond of black lacquer ware. Thus the present example has extensive decoration in gilt on a black lacquer ground. Although the original techniques of lacquering were developed in China, they were particularly lavishly exploited in Japan. Thus, the Chinese court associated a strong emphasis on gold decoration with Japan. The decoration was used on lacquer boxes as well as cabinets and screens.
The gilt-painted side of the screen often were paired on the reverse with silk tapestries or paintings. See a nine-panel screen in the in Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, vol. 54, Beijing, no. 198 where there are small gilt-painted landscape panels enclosed within Japanese style floral medallions. The interiors of cabinets were also often decorated in this style. See a lacquer display cabinet with a landscape interior illustrated in ibid no. 216.
Léopold Davout was a French general of the Second Empire and third Duc d'Auerstaedt, a title originally held by his uncle Louis Nicolas Davout (1770-1823) (a successful Marshal of France during the Napoleonic Era). The title of Duc d'Auerstaedt was resurrected by an Imperial edict of Napoleon III in 1864. Davout was born to a Burgundian noble family and served in the French Army from 1849 until 1877. He took part in Napoleon III's disastrous Franco-Prussian War.