05 novembre 2020

A pair of very rare imperial gilt-lacquer and mother-of-pearl-inlaid display cabinets, Yongzheng-Qianlong period

H22141-L229450918_original

image (5)

image (6)

image (7)

image (8)

image (9)

image (10)

image (11)

image (12)

image (13)

image (14)

image (15)

Lot 103. A pair of very rare imperial gilt-lacquer and mother-of-pearl-inlaid display cabinets, Yongzheng-Qianlong period (1723-1795). Each 168.1cm (66 1/4in) high x 70.1cm (27 5/8in) wide x 32.2cm (12 3/4in) deep. (2). Estimate £ 50,000 - £ 80,000. Sold for £ 225,062 (€ 248,825). Courtesy Bonhams.

One cabinet with nine variously proportioned and positioned open compartments, the other with eight compartments, all framed within black and gold lacquer friezes superbly embellished with mother-of-pearl inlays with an elaborate decoration of lotus flowerheads amidst dense foliage, the interior coated with dark green lacquer, meticulously enriched with lotus blossoms borne on meandering foliate scrolls, all raised on four legs linked by a lower frieze.  

Provenance: Livio Borghese (1874-1939), 11th Prince of Sulmona, Prince of Rossano, Prince of Vivaro, Prince of Montecompatri, Duke of Palombara, Duke of Poggio Nativo and Castelchiodato, head of the House of Borghese, Italy, and thence by descent.

NotePrince Livio Borghese was an Italian diplomat from the end of the 19th century until his death in 1939, serving in China, the Ottoman Empire and other European countries. It is likely that the present lot was acquired during his service in China. His elder brother Prince Scipione Borghese (1871-1927), 10th Prince of Sulmona, was famous for winning the 'Peking to Paris' car race in 1907.

The present pair of cabinets belongs to an exclusive group of lacquer furniture manufactured for Imperial consumption, decorated in the virtuoso technique of mother-of-pearl inlay, with the incorporation of gold and silver foil.

While the use of the mother-of-pearl inlay on lacquer, employed throughout the Ming dynasty, became very popular during the Kangxi period, the gilt decoration on lacquer became more prevalent from the Yongzheng period. The spectacular visual effect, resulting from the combination of the brilliant gilding and the endless shades of pink, purple and green iridescences, reveals the exceptional dexterity of the imperial craftsmen. Compare the scrolling floral borders, executed in gilding and mother-of-pearl inlays, decorating an imperial black-lacquer throne and matching screen, both dated to the third quarter of the 17th century, from the Museum of Asian Art, Berlin, illustrated in Im Zeichen Des Drachen, Stuttgart, 2007, pp.202-204.

Openwork display cabinets, known as duobaoge or 'curio cabinet of many treasures', developed and reached the height of popularity during the 18th century gracing the Imperial halls. The carefully designed asymmetrical and irregular compartments are characteristic of the duobaoge developed in the early Qing period. Such cabinets would have been used to display precious objects including ceramics, jade carvings, cloisonné enamel and archaic and later bronzes.

A related double-pair of mother-of-pearl-inlaid red and green lacquer cabinets, mid Qing dynasty, from the Qing Court Collection, is in the Chuxiugong 'Hall of Gathered Elegance' in the Forbidden City. Each cabinet is placed side by side with another to make a pair, and each pair is placed in a different part of the Imperial hall. The present lot of one such pair of cabinets would almost certainly have formed part of the same suite of display cabinets; see Classics of the Forbidden City: Inlaid Furniture, Beijing, 2013, pl.24 (showing one such pair of cabinets); and Ming Qing Gongting Jia Zhu Da Guan, vol.II, Beijing, 2006, pp.696-697, pls.798-1 and 798-4 (showing the double pairs of cabinets in the Chuxiugong).

Compare to a related pair of Imperial mother-of-pearl-inlaid red and gilt-green lacquer cabinets, Mid Qing dynasty, which was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 29 May 2018, lot 32.

image (22)

image (16)

image (17)

image (18)

image (19)

image (20)

image (21)

very rare pair of Imperial mother-of-pearl-inlaid red and gilt-green lacquer cabinets. Mid Qing Dynasty. Each 167.5cm (66in) high x 71cm (28in) wide x 32cm (12 1/2in) deep. (2). Sold for HK$ 1,875,000 (€ 203,977) at Bonhams Hong Kong, 29 May 2018, lot 32. Courtesy Sotheby's

Each cabinet comprising eight variously proportioned and positioned open compartments, all framed within red lacquer friezes superbly embellished with mother-of-pearl inlays with an elaborate decoration of lotus flowerheads amidst dense foliage, the interior coated with dark green lacquer, meticulously enriched in gilt with lotus blossoms borne on meandering foliate scrolls, all raised on four legs linked by a lower frieze. 

Note: A near identical double-pair of mother-of-pearl-inlaid red and green lacquer cabinets, mid Qing dynasty, from the Qing Court Collection, are in the Chuxiugong 'Hall of Gathered Elegance' in the Forbidden City. Each cabinet is placed jointly side by side with another to make a pair, and each pair is placed in a different part of the Imperial hall. The present lot of one such pair of cabinets, almost certainly would have formed part of the same suite display cabinets; see Classics of the Forbidden City: Inlaid Furniture, Beijing, 2013, pl.24 (showing one such pair of cabinets); and Ming Qing Gongting Jia Zhu Da Guan, vol.II, Beijing, 2006, pp.696-697, pls.798-1 and 798-4 (showing the double pairs of cabinets in the Chuxiugong).

Openwork display cabinets, known as duobaoge or 'curio cabinet of many treasures' developed and reached the height of popularity during the 18th century gracing the Imperial halls. The carefully designed asymmetrical and irregular compartments are characteristic of the duobaoge developed in the early Qing period. Such cabinets would have been used to display precious objects including ceramics, jades carvings, cloisonné enamel and archaic and later bronzes, as can be seen in the near identical double-pair of cabinets to the present lot in the Chuxiugong.

The technique and materials meticulously used in the present pair of cabinets is the culmination of furniture development from the Ming dynasty to the mid Qing dynasty. This is evident in the meticulous and skillful use of the mother-of-pearl inlay on lacquer, which can be seen throughout the Ming dynasty and was very popular during the Kangxi period; and in the gilt decoration on lacquer which can be seen mostly from the early Qing period and became more prevalent from the Yongzheng period. However, the present pair of cabinets are remarkable in bringing all these complex decorative elements together. They also stand out in the very rare and subtle use of green lacquer in the interior, vividly contrasting the gold with the green, and then again the contrasting the lustrous mother-of-pearl with the red lacquer. The ability to accomplish such complex decorative design and subtle contrasts in colours and materials demonstrates the exceptional craftsmanship and masterful creativity which was required in standing with the exacting Imperial standards of workmanship.

The Chuxiugong is one of six western halls in the inner section of the Forbidden City. It was first built in 1420 and renamed as Chuxiugong in 1535. In 1852 the Empress Dowager Cixi lived in it and gave birth in this hall to the Tongzhi emperor in 1856. In 1884 the Dowager Empress returned to the hall on her fiftieth birthday for which occasion it was elaborately renovated at the expense of 630 liang silver.

Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art, London, 5 Nov 2020


Commentaires sur A pair of very rare imperial gilt-lacquer and mother-of-pearl-inlaid display cabinets, Yongzheng-Qianlong period

Nouveau commentaire