A fine and rare copper-red 'Lotus' seal paste box and cover, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)

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Lot 3601. A fine and rare copper-red 'Lotus' seal paste box and cover, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 5.5 cm, 2 1/8  in. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000 HKD. Lot sold 1,250,000 HKD (350,378 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's 2018.

of square form, with straight sides resting on four short bracket feet, the sides decorated in copper red with floral scrolls, the gently domed cover with a stylised lotus bloom centred with a shou medallion, wreathed by four further blooms flanked by curling foliage, all within a border of lotus blooms interlaced with ruyiheads, the base inscribed in underglaze blue with a six-character seal mark.

ProvenanceCollection of the Chang Foundation, Taipei.
Sotheby's London, 20th June 2001, lot 26.

Note: This superbly potted small porcelain box was created as a container for seal paste. However, the precision of its construction and the delicacy of its painting, so exquisitely rendered in underglaze copper-red  with an auspicious shou character within floral medallions, elevate it beyond a mere utilitarian receptacle to a luxurious work of art of sublime beauty.

The opulence of its decoration is reminiscent of other boxes of the period created using luxury materials, including the celebrated coral and gold box and cover from the Carl Kempe Collection collection, included in the exhibitions The Arts of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1963-64, cat.no. 354, and Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain: The Kempe Collection, Asia House Gallery, New York, 1971, cat. no. 31, and sold in these rooms, 11th April 2008, lot 2310. Clearly created for the personal use of the Imperial family, the decoration of the Kempe box, like the current porcelain box, consists of stylised blossoms encircling an auspicious shou character. It is likely that both boxes were commissioned as birthday gifts for members of the Imperial family.

The only other recorded copper-red porcelain seal paste box and cover of this form and decoration appears to be another example of similar size with an effaced mark, sold at Christie’s New York, 19th March 2008, lot 638.

An underglazed red-decorated squzre seal paste box and cover, Qianlong-Jiaqing (1736-1820), 2 3/16 in. (5.6 cm.) square. Estimate USD 3,000 - USD 5,000. Price realised USD 8,125 at Christie’s New York, 19th March 2008, lot 638. © Christie's Images Ltd 2008

An underglazed red-decorated squzre seal paste box and cover, Qianlong-Jiaqing (1736-1820), 2 3/16 in. (5.6 cm.) square. Estimate USD 3,000 - USD 5,000Price realised USD 8,125 at Christie’s New York, 19th March 2008, lot 638© Christie's Images Ltd 2008

 The cover well painted in underglaze red with a central lotus blossom containing a shouroundel, with four lotus blossoms borne on leafy tendrils emerging from its corners, all framed within a border of lotus scroll repeated on the sides of the box and cover, the whole raised on four short L-shaped feet, the base possibly with mark removed, wood stand.

Provenance: Private collection, Montreal, 1960s.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Apr 2018.