Lot 3150. A finely carved cinnabar lacquer 'Mythical Animals' box and cover, Qing dynasty, 18th century. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD. Lot sold 980,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

of circular form, with a flat cover deeply and meticulously carved with three frolicking beasts, two fu lions and one resembling a fox possibly a huli jing, all reserved on a dense ground of fine rolling waves, the sides of the cover and the box further carved with waves, the interior and base lacquered in black; 18.5 cm.,7 1/4 in.

Notes: The present box belongs to a small group of objects carved with dragons, lions and mythical creatures amidst tumultuous waves, such as the box in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in Zhongguo qiqi quanji, vol. 6, Fuzhou, 1993, pl. 206, together with a cylindrical box with the sides carved with a similar motif, pl. 207, both vessels attributed to the Qianlong period. Another related box, in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, is included in Hai-Wai Yi-Chen. Chinese Art in Overseas Collections. Lacquerware, Taipei, 1987, pl. 154; and one from a private collection is published in Derek Clifford,Chinese Carved Lacquer, London, 1992, p. 131, pl. 105, where the author notes that 'there are eleven examples of this type of scene in Beijing (Palace Museum, 1985) and four in Taipei (National Palace Museum, 1971)'.  An imperial box with a four-character Qianlong reign mark and of the period, the product of the Lacquer Workshop in the Forbidden City, part of the Imperial Palace Workshops, was sold in our London rooms, 16th May 2007, lot 75, carved with three scaly five-clawed dragons in pursuit of a flaming pearl amidst foaming waves.

For the inspiration of this motif, see a Xuande lotus-leaf form dish carved with two mythical beasts on an elaborate wave background, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, published ibid., pl. 45.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Hong Kong, 04 Apr 2012