1825
1825

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

A RARE CARVED AND INLAID ZITAN 'DRAGON' SCROLL BOX AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,420,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1825

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

A RARE CARVED AND INLAID ZITAN 'DRAGON' SCROLL BOX AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,420,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

FINE CHINESE CERAMICS & WORKS OF ART

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Hong Kong

A RARE CARVED AND INLAID ZITAN 'DRAGON' SCROLL BOX AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
of elongated rectangular form, the sliding cover finely carved with a rectangular cartouche enclosing the characters Qingming Shanghe tu in relief within a double-line border in gilt bronze, surrounded by a ferocious five-clawed dragon chasing a flaming pearl, above two further dragons rising and dipping in pursuit of another flaming pearl, all against a ground of turbulent waves and within a cloud-shaped border, similarly decorated on the sides, lined on the interior with sky-blue silk, the wood of dark chocolate-brown tone
Quantity: 2
39.4 cm., 15 1/2 in.
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Provenance

Sotheby's Hong Kong, 23rd October 2005, lot 391.

Catalogue Note

This zitan scroll box was originally made to hold a copy of Zhang Zeduan's Qingming Shanghe tu ('Ascending the River at the Qingming Festival') commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor sometime in the first year of his reign. Zhang Zeduan was a member of the Imperial Academy and active during the Zhenghe (1111-1117) or Xuanhe (1119-1125) period of the Northern Song dynasty. The scroll depicts the Spring festival in progress along the Bian river as it runs through Bianliang, the capital of the Northern Song dynasty (modern day Kaifeng). The wealth of detail in showing costumes, buildings, craftsmen and boats is unparalleled in the field of genre painting, which explains why so many painters in the following dynasties have attempted to reproduce or re-visit the scroll.  The Kangxi and Qianlong emperors indeed ordered their own copies to be painted at the court. One of the Qianlong Emperor's versions is presently in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Emperor Ch'ien-lung's Grand Cultural Enterprise, Taipei, 2002, cat. no.1-5 and the present box, which is of matching size, may have once protected that very scroll. The original painting is currently housed in the National Palace Museum.

A related zitan scroll box, made to preserve the Qianlong Emperor's essays on his military achievements, was included in the exhibition Qing Legacies: The Sumptuous Art of Imperial Packaging, Macau Museum of Art, Macau, 2000, cat. no. 4. It is noted, ibid., p. 72, that simple and elegant wooden boxes of this form were the favourite packaging material of the Emperor who used them to preserve his poems and essays. Compare also a later pair of zitan scroll boxes, densely carved in relief with dragons, but lacking the panel with the title, sold at Christie's New York, 16th September 1998, lot 231. Scroll boxes were also made out of carved cinnabar lacquer, with similar meandering dragons flanking the title panel, see for example a box in the National Palace Museum, illustrated ibid., pl. 14.

FINE CHINESE CERAMICS & WORKS OF ART

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Hong Kong