A carved cinnabar lacquer stembowl.  Ming Dynasty, 16th centuryPhoto Sotheby's

the rounded bowl deeply carved on the exterior with a continuous scene of figures in a landscape, on one side an official surrounded by his entourage stands next to a crouching tiger, set in an garden just outside a half-open door with mountains in the distance, the reverse with a group of soldiers, officials and flag bearers walking towards a narrow path with mountains in the background, set between a band of key-fret below the rim and upright lappets containing stylised cicadas, the interior lacquered in brown, all supported on a tall splayed stem foot collared by further key-fret and a band of interlinking 'C'-scrolls, the base sealed with a thin sheet of copper; diameter 14.5 cm., 5 3/4 in. Estimtion 400,000-600,000 HKD. Lot 3148 unsold

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: A stembowl of this form and size, deeply carved with a scene of warriors on horses and foot soldiers engaged in battle within the compounds of an impressive city wall, illustrated in Sir Harry Garner, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, pp. 123-128, colour pl. C and pls. 60-63, and in Derek Clifford, Chinese Carved Lacquer, London, 1992, pl. 65, was sold at Christie's London, 16th November 1998, lot 13. Clifford, ibid., p. 91, notes that the 'miniature pictorial style, the freely drawn unconventional diapers, the elaboration of the theme, the strong diagonal, and linear detailing of the rocks all point directly to the Wang Ming atelier at Pingliang'. The close similarities in form, size and carving style of the two stembowls suggest that they may be the product of the same workshop, or were even possibly made by the same hand.

See also a pair of smaller stembowls decorated with a continuous landscape scene, included in the exhibition From Innovation to Conformity. Chinese Lacquer from the 13th to 16th Centuries, Bluett and Sons., London, 1989, cat. no. 24, offered in these rooms, 2nd November 1994, lot 259; and a finely carved cinnabar lacquer stembowl of related size and form, showing a lively battle scene, published in Lee Yu-Kuan, Oriental Lacquer Art, New York and Tokyo, 1972, pl. 123.

The carver may have been inspired by two earlier stembowls with scenes of playing children as the main design, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the museum's Special Exhibition of Lacquer Objects, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1981, cat. nos. 13 and 14, both bearing Xuande reign marks and attributed to the period.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 04 avr. 2012 www.sothebys.com