Lot 8. A rare carved cinnabar lacquer 'peony' dish, Second half 14th century; 18cm (7 1/8in) diam. (3). Estimate 750,000 - 1,000,000 HKD. Sold for HK$ 937,500 (€ 102,622) inc. premium. © Bonhams 2001-2018
With shallow rounded sides resting on a short foot, the interior exquisitely carved in deep relief through the thick red lacquer with three large peony blossoms, the large furled petals enclosing the meticulously carved floral-diapered stamens, all amidst dense foliage of large leaves and further blossoms and buds, the exterior carved with C-scrolls, the base lacquered black, Japanese box and cover.
Note: The present dish encapsulates the mature style of late Yuan to early Ming dynasty lacquer carving, characterised by deep high-relief carving and the overlapping of elements within the composition to allow for a greater sense of depth. A second half 14th century date is further demonstrated in the deeply carved continuous scroll around the exterior and the edged linear rim.
The main composition of three fully blossoming leafy peonies continued onto the early 15th century, as demonstrated in similarly decorated Yongle and Xuande carved lacquer wares; see a number of carved lacquer boxes and covers, Yongle and Xuande marks and period, illustrated in Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors: Treasures Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2008, nos.8-12. Compare also a similar carved lacquer dish, Yuan dynasty, but carved with a single peony blossom, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Hong Kong, 2006, no.3. See also a similar carved lacquer dish, Yuan dynasty, signed Chang Mao, from the Sir Percival David Collection, exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts, International Exhibition of Chinese Art, London, 1935-1936, no.1027.
A carved lacquer dish, Yuan dynasty from the Qing Court Collection. Image courtesy of the Palace Museum, Beijing.
See a related but small carved lacquer dish, Yuan dynasty, decorated with a single peony blossom, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2083; and see another carved cinnabar lacquer dish, early Ming dynasty, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2006, lot 1527.
A rare small carved cinnabar lacquer 'peony' dish, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), from the Edward T. Chow Collection & the Lee Family Collection; 6 in. (15.3 cm.) diam. Sold for 740,000 HKD (Estimate HKD 600,000 - HKD 800,000) at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2083. © Christie's Images Ltd 2012
The circular dish is finely carved through thick layers of cinnabar lacquer with a large peony blossom in the centre surrounded by smaller peonies and leaves, all against a yellow ground. The reverse side is deeply carved with xiangcao scrolls. The base is lacquered black and incised with a Zhang Cheng mark.
Provenance: Edward T. Chow Collection
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3rd and 4th May 1994, lot 276
Property from the Lee Family Collection.
Exhibited: Baur Collection Galleries, Exhibition of One Man's Taste, Treasures from the Lakeside Pavillion, Geneva, 1988-1989, illsutrated in the Catalogue, no. L2
Note: The Yuan Mongol regime was proactive in promoting commerce and trade throughout its empire and was particularly supportive of various local artistries. It is against this background that we witness a rapid development of lacquer art during the Yuan period both in terms of quality and stylistic evolution. The current dish attests to the much bolder and freer rendering of motifs typical of Yuan lacquer wares, with the dramatic presence of a large peony surrounded by overlapping elements. Such free spirit in the carving is rarely seen in later Ming dynasty imperial wares, where decorations became much more formalised .
The current dish is very similar to a Yuan period cinnabar lacquer dish with the signature of the fabled Yuan lacquer master Zhang Cheng, similarly carved but with a prominent gardenia in the centre amidst dense overlapping leaves and buds, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing and illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2006, pl. 3. The same publication mentions that the classic scrolls on the exterior of the dish, like the current example, are typical of those found on Yuan lacquer dishes, ibid, p. 10. Compare also another larger cinnabar lacquer dish with carved peonies formerly in the Lee Family Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2009, lot 1813.