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Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

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London

A LARGE CINNABAR LACQUER 'DRAGON' BOX AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
of flattened circular form rising from a short straight foot, the cover delicately carved through the rich layers of cinnabar lacquer with a ferocious frontal dragon writhing sinuously around a central flaming pearl amongst dense scrolling clouds, its scales and mane meticulously detailed, encircled by two pairs of confronting dragons among cloud scrolls in pursuit of flaming pearls, between two keyfret bands, the box similarly carved with four further dragons between two keyfret bands at the foot and rim, all reserved on a ground of turbulent waves, the interior and base lacquered black
Quantity: 2
44.3 cm, 17 7/16  in.
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Catalogue Note

This box is striking for its grand proportions and intricate design of nine ferocious dragons leaping through clouds in pursuit of flaming pearls. This powerful motif was a favourite at the Qing court and appears on numerous objects made in a variety of media, including lacquer, textile, porcelain and bronze. Inspired by an early Ming design, the Qing craftsmen’s ingenuity is evident in the replacement of the side-facing dragon at the front with a frontal dragon, which gives a greater sense of the creature’s formidable dominance and strength.

 

Boxes of this type are rare, although a closely related example was offered in our London rooms, 17th December 1996, lot 207. See also a box of this impressive size, carved with a side-facing dragon amongst waves, from the collection of Dorothy and James E. Hahn, in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, illustrated in The T.T. Tsui Galleries of Chinese Art, Toronto, 1996, pl. 126; another decorated with a dragon carrying an auspicious character, from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 2006, pl. 13; and a third box, but of slightly larger size and lacking the key-fret border, sold in our New York rooms, 21st September 2006, lot 66.

Important Chinese Art

|
London