A Twelve-panel Brown-ground Coromandel Lacquer Screen. Qing dynasty, Kangxi period. Photo Sotheby's
carved and painted in a colorful palette highlighted in gilt with a lively scene of a celebration in a palatial courtyard pavilion filled with ornamental rocks and trees, with an entourage of nobleman having arrived on horseback and escorted to the receiving hall, their attendants following behind shown crossing the footbridge bearing gifts, Guo Ziyi, the Tang dynasty hero, is portrayed seated in the central open pavilion being entertained by two willowy dancers and women musicians, with military and civilian officials in the courtyards below waiting for their turn for an audience, all around them children at play, and in the adjoining pavilions women and children shown at leisure, all within borders of mythical animals and Precious Objects amidst floral displays, the reverse with a long dedicatory inscription and a date of Kangxi, gengwu, summer, fourth month. Each panel: Height 109 3/8 in., 277.8 cm; Width 19 3/4 in., 50.2 cm. Estimate 150,000-200,000 USD
NOTE: This screen is from a well known group of Kangxi coromandel screens commissioned as valedictory or birthday gifts for an official, all depicting figures in extravagant pavilion settings with a central theme of visitors bringing gifts to Guo Ziyi, the guest of honor. A brown-ground coromandel screen with a very similar architectural layout and grouping of figures is illustrated by Wilfred De Kesel and Greet Dhont, Coromandel Lacquer Screens, Brussels, 2002, ill. 14 as well as ill. 23, ibid., where the lacquer ground is black but the configuration of setting and figures also very similar except for the layout of the ladies' pavilions. A strikingly similar screen was sold in these rooms, 16th September, 2009, lot 157.
The end of the dedicatory inscription on the screen states that it was made during the fifty-third year of the Kangxi period, corresponding to 1714 and commissioned as a gift for a high official's birthday, presented by Ruan Jinlin and his entire family during the fourth month of the gengwu year two days after the Buddha's birthday. There is some discrepancy in the date as the gengwu year would be either 1690 or 1750. In addition, the official title of the recipient of the screen, Mr. Chen, was filled in and recarved, giving his new title as Dazongbo, an official in charge of state rites. A reference to the central government was also added. It is possible that the screen's recipient was promoted after the screen had been completed, but before it was presented, which necessitated the changes, and may also explain the discrepancy in dating.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. New York. 14 september 2011 www.sothebys.com