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12 juillet 2016

A large cinnabar lacquer 'Hundred boys' box and cover, Qing dynasty, Jiaqing period

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Lot 3203. A large cinnabar lacquer 'Hundred boys' box and cover, Qing dynasty, Jiaqing period (1796-1820)Estimate 700,000 — 900,000 HKD. Lot sold 860,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

of rectangular form, the flat top surface deftly carved and incised in high relief through the rich red cinnabar lacquer with the 'Hundred Boys' at play in a fenced garden in front of a pavilion, a group performing a dragon dance while others parade with  lanterns and puppets, under a band playing musical instruments and flying kites, all within a border of craggy rockwork, gnarled pines and swirling clouds, the underside similarly composed with a lion dance at the bottom, another group playing hide and seek while a smaller assembly is seated reading books in a study at the upper right corner, the edges shrouded with a variety of trees, cragged rocks and swirling clouds, all reserved on a meticulously carved diaper ground, the interior of the box and of the cover lacquered in black; 32 cm., 12 5/8 in.

ProvenanceChristie's Hong Kong, 26th April 1999, lot 557.

NotesThe present box is a fine example of the revival of lacquer carving in the Ming Dynasty style during the Jiaqing reign. For a late Ming prototype of the design, see the top of a box dated to the 16th / 17th century in the collections of the National Palace Museum, included in the Exhibition Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors, Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2008, cat. p. 94, pl. 084.

The depiction of 'Hundred Boys' at play, representing the wish for many offsprings, was a popular theme in the decorative arts of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The 'Hundred Boys' refers to King Wen of the Zhou dynasty who had ninety-nine sons and adopted one more to make one hundred. See a circular mark and period of Qianlong cinnabar lacquer box carved with a comparable design in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji. Qiqi, vol.8, Beijing, 1991, pl.168; another in the Chateau de Fontainebleau, is illustrated in Colombe Samoyault-Verlet, Le Musée Chinois de l'Impératrice Eugénie, Paris, 1994 p. 49, fig. 36. Compare also the 'Hundred Boys' design found on a Qianlong circular lacquer box sold in our London rooms, 13th July 2005, lot 117. 

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

 

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