A 'qiangjin' and 'tianqi' lacquer incense stand, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722)

Lot 3795. A 'qiangjin' and 'tianqi' lacquer incense stand, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722); 83.6 by 46 cm., 32 7/8  by 18 1/8  inEstimate 1,000,000 — 1,500,000 HKDLot Sold 1,480,000 HKD (150,937 EUR)Photo Sotheby’s

the flat top subtly divided into five lobes, centred with a dragon depicted soaring sinuously around a flaming pearl, surrounded by four further dragons in shades of green and red and a key-fret border, the thick rounded edge with a stylised fret design, the constricted waist divided into six main lobes by six pairs of raised vertical ridges, each lobe delicately detailed with quatrefoil floral scrolls and pierced with an elongated quatrefoil cartouche, resting on a thin scroll band and a bombé apron painted with ferocious dragons continuing onto six cabriole legs terminating in crenulated sides and upturned scroll feet, all raised a lobed pedestal base similarly decorated with a large ferocious dragons, key-fret designs and stylised floral scrolls, all reserved on a rich russet-red ground, the countersunk underside of the top and base lacquered black.

Provenance: Sotheby's London, 9th November 2011, lot 38.

Note: The present stand is impressive for its complex incised design of scaly dragons amongst ruyi-shaped clouds and its elegant sweeping form. Incense stands of this type were used both in religious and secular contexts to hold incense burners and flower vases. An earlier stand of this form is portrayed in situ on a woodblock print from chapter 18 of the famous novel Jin Pin Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), reproduced in Craig Clunas, 'The Novel Jin Ping Mei as a Source for the Study of Ming Furniture', Orientations, January 1992, p. 62, pl. 5.

Two other stands of similar form, dated Ming dynasty, 17th century, similarly decorated with dragons chasing flaming pearls, were sold in our New York rooms, 28th and 29th September 1989, lot 398 and 399, and again, 23rd March 2011, lot 659 and 660. For an earlier version of this form and design, see an inlaid and painted lacquer stand attributed to the Xuande period (1425-1435) illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (I), Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 162, together with an undecorated stand of this lobed form, inset with a cloisonné plaque on the top, pl. 165.

Sotheby’s. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 october 2014