AN EXTREMELY RARE AND FINE CHINESE EXPORT CARVED WOOD 'EAGLE' PLAQUE FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET | QING DYNASTY, LATE 19TH CENTURY | 清十九世紀末 木雕加彩描金美國國徽圖牌
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND FINE CHINESE EXPORT CARVED WOOD 'EAGLE' PLAQUE FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET
QING DYNASTY, LATE 19TH CENTURY
the center finely carved in high relief with a large front-facing spread-winged American bald eagle, its mouth holding a blue ribbon, one foot clasping five arrows with its powerful talons and the other foot resting on a shield emblazoned with stars and stripes among wave motifs flanked by two pole-mounted American flags and a cannon with cannon balls on each side, all underneath a flowing ribbon carved and inscribed with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, the border carved with blossoming branches reserved with Chinese figural cartouches
Length 18 in.; 45.7 cm
The plaque in overall good condition. The rim with some splitting, consolidation and minor repairs, with the largest section measuring approx. 1 1/4 in. wide and one split stabilized with a screw. The surface with expected wear and small losses consistent with age. It is likely that some of the pigments have been refreshed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Sotheby's New York, June 24, 1993, lot 376
Marguerite Riordan, Stonington, Connecticut
No other examples of Chines export 'Eagle' plaques appear to be recorded with a central front facing eagle with an English motto as the present example. Other related examples depict an eagle in profile with its head pointing to the right, talons grasping arrows and an olive branch, and the ribbon behind inscribed and carved with the Latin motto E Plurbis Unum. The backgrounds of all three include either twelve or thirteen stars, and all are scattered at slightly different positions around the central eagle. One example is illustrated in Carl L. Crossman, The Decorative Arts of The China Trade, Suffolk, 1991, p. 312, pl. 109. Another example is illustrated in Libby Lai-Pik Chan and Nina Lai-Na Wan, The Dragon and The Eagle: American Traders in China, A Century of Trade from 1784 to 1900, Hong Kong, 2018, Vol. I, pp. 100-101, cat. no. 1.32, from the Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Collection and exhibited at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. A third example from the Kelton Collection was sold at Christie's London, November 7th, 2019, lot 110. Crossman, p. 312, op. cit., in the entry for the example he has illustrated, notes that a similar example was discovered with an inscription stating that was from a yacht at Ningbo in the third quarter of the 19th Century, hence most plaques are currently attributed to have been made around that. However, when comparing the complexity of carving between the present example and others, the present example appears to be more detailed and finely carved, especially at the border, perhaps suggesting an earlier date for the present example.