Lot 8103. A rare carved cinnabar lacquer ‘dragon’ brush and cover, Wanli incised and gilt six-character mark and of the period (1573-1619); 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm.) long. Estimate HKD 350,000 - HKD 500,000. Price realised HKD 437,500 © Christie's Images Ltd 2017
The shaft is carved with a ferocious five-clawed dragon pursuing a flaming pearl amidst ruyi clouds, fire scrolls and treasures, below a band of trefoil collar enclosing florettes. The terminal containing the hair brush is incised with five cartouches enclosing the six-character reign mark. The cover is carved with further treasures amidst clouds, between two rows of similar florette-enclosing trefoil collars, Japanese wood box
Note: Lacquer brushes bearing Wanli reign marks are extremely rare and the current brush appears to be unique. Two other Wanli-marked lacquer brushes are known, but both are of painted lacquer, each with the reign mark reserved in a rectangular cartouche in a vertical line at the top of the brush. The first example, gilt-decorated on a black ground with a five-clawed dragon (the last claw effaced) pursuing a flaming pearl, is in the Tokugawa Art Museum, illustrated in Karamono, Imported Lacquerwork-Chinese, Korean and Ryukyuan (Okinawa), Japan, 1997, fig. 154. The second example gilt against a red ground with lotus scroll, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2005, lot 1226. Similar treatment of the reign mark, reserved in a vertical cartouche, can be found on a pair of Jiajing-marked lacquer brushes painted with dragons and pearls, in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors: Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2008, pl. 94. The rendering of the reign mark on the current brush, incised and gilt within five cartouches forming a horizontal band, is extremely unusual and no other related example appears to be known.
A fine and rare Imperial painted lacquer brush and cover, Wanli six-character mark and of the period (1573-1619); 9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm.) long. Sold for HKD 504,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2005, lot 1226. © Christie's Images Ltd 2005