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Lot 3664. A carved cinnabar lacquer circular box and cover, 17th century; 24.7 cm. Lot sold: 302,400 HKD (Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000). ©  2021 Sotheby's

the flat upper surface carved with a scholar seated under a large pine tree with a curved ruyi stalk in his hand with two attendants nearby, the landscape laden with jagged cliffs and rockwork, all against a diapered ground, the straight sides deftly carved with a composite floral scroll including prunus, chrysanthemum, peony and camellia blossoms, the box similarly carved with a leafy floral scroll, the interior and base lacquered black.

Property from the Baoyizhai Collection.

Exhibited: 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1993, cat. no. 75.
Layered Beauty: The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2010, cat. no. 49.

Note: Finely carved with scholars in a landscape setting, this box is notable for the illusion of vast space which has been created through the overlapping mountains that appear to float and recede into the distance, a technique commonly employed in landscape painting. 

Compare a related box of smaller dimensions similarly depicting a scholar sitting leisurely in a garden, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Anthology of Chinese Art. Ming Lacquer, vol. 5, Fuzhou, 1995, pl. 158. See also a dish carved with a scholar gazing into the distance from a pavilion, illustrated in Karamono. Imported Lacquerwork. Chinese, Korean and Ryukyuan, Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, 1997, pl. 63; and a rectangular tray, decorated with scholars gathered in a garden, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Shanghai, 2006, pl. 193. For a prototype of this type of box see one, attributed to the Yongle period (1403-24), in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, published in Hai-wai yi-chen. Qiqi /Chinese Art in Overseas Collections. Lacquerware, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, pl. 108.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art including Imperial Jades from the De An Tang Collection, Hong Kong, 13 October 2021