A rare and finely carved lacquer 'Immortals' quatrefoil tray, Ming dynasty, 16th century


Lot 256. A rare and finely carved lacquer 'Immortals' quatrefoil tray, Ming dynasty, 16th century. Width 6 3/8  in., 16.3cmEstimate: 80,000 — 120,000 USD. Sold Price: 112,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's

deftly carved through layers of the cinnabar lacquer with three Immortals, including Zhongli Quan, standing on a rocky outcrop beneath an overhanging pine tree, with roiling waves crashing below and cloud wisps in the sky above, one cloud supporting Dongfang Shuo bearing a leafy peach sprig, all reserved on a diaper ground, the rim carved with a zigzag border enclosing lotuses, the underside with cranes in flight amidst ruyi-shaped clouds, above a keyfret band at the foot, the base lacquered brown, Japanese wood box (3).

ProvenanceCollection of Kishu Tokugawa family

Exhibited: Kishu Tokugawa Ke Zouhin Tenkan Mokuroku [Catalogue of the exhibition on the Tokugawa collection], Tokyo Art Club, Tokyo, 1927, cat. no. 231.

Note: Compare a polychrome lacquer dish of this form carved in the center with scholars playing a board game, surrounded by sprigs of lingzhi fungus on a diaper background, all enclosed with sprays of flowers, attributed to the mid-16th century, formerly from the collection of Ruth and Bruce Dayton and now in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, illustrated in Appreciating China. Gifts from Ruth and Bruce Dayton, Minneapolis, 2002, pl. 64. See also a cinnabar lacquer dish carved with the four attributes of the Four Heavenly Kings in the Buddhist pantheon surrounding a central five-clawed dragon, with a six-character Jiajing mark on base and of the period, from the Qing Court Collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Hong Kong, 2006, pl. 126; another Jiaqing mark and period polychrome lacquer dish carved with four writhing dragons surrounding a central roundel featuring a dragon candle amidst millet plants, from the collection of Sir Percival and Lady David, included in the Oriental Ceramics Society exhibition The Arts of The Ming Dynasty, Arts Council Gallery, London, 1957, cat. no. 251, and sold twice in our London rooms, 29th May 1962, lot 171, and 24th February 1970, lot 78; and another sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd June 2015, lot 3151. 

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 12 Sep 2018