In both technical expertise and script, the inlaid calligraphy on this screen is noteworthy. The script closely resembles that of Tang Ying (1683-1756), Superintendent of the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen during the Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns. While he is most celebrated for his work at the kilns and his ability to translate the emperors' tastes into porcelain, he was also an accomplished calligrapher and poet. The masterful dexterity of potters of the Qianlong period is represented in the striking fluidity of the porcelain strokes, which upon first glance appear to have been rendered with a brush. It is extremely rare to find calligraphic porcelain inlay, although a pair of panels with unglazed seals of Tang Ying reading Tang Ying shu ('calligraphy by Tang Ying') was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29th May 2013, lot 2012; and another pair is illustrated in Chugoku bijutsu shiho ten, Tokyo, 1981, pl. 59.
The writing style of the panels also closely compares to the calligraphy of Tang Ying found on porcelain wares; see a waterpot in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in Qingdai yuyao ciqi, vol. 1, pt. II, Beijing, 2005, p. 9; a brushpot sold in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 3073; and a cup sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1st December 2009, lot 1921.
The crossover between porcelain and this piece is also seen in the revolving nature of this screen. Most double-sided screens would have been mounted as table screens, able to be seen from both sides. While this screen also features a mount, which is unusual yet lavish in its combination of porcelain with zitan, it has an added revolving function. In this sense it is reminiscent of revolving vases, an innovation of the Qianlong period and a product of Tang Ying's creative genius that would have satisfied the emperor's fondness for technically challenging and innovative designs.
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