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Lot 320. A rare pair of Imperial white and spinach-green jade and cloisonné enamel 'Shou Characters' screens, Qianlong period (1736-1795); Each 24.1cm (9 1/2in) high. Sold for £ 52,750 (€ 61,692). (Estimate £ 30,000 - £50,000). © Bonhams 2001-2021

The jade rectangular plaques of pale white tone, each inscribed with 60 Shou characters in zhuanshu calligraphy and decorated with gilt, the reverse with pomegranates, butterflies, and narcissus, the other with lotus and a pair of Mandarin ducks, each encased in a cloisonné enamel frame with diaper pattern, supported on a zitan wood stand with spinach-green jade spandrels and shaped apron.

Provenance: Sir John William Buchanan-Jardine, 3rd Baronet (1900-1969), London
Spink & Son Ltd., London
An English private collection, with one of the pair of screens acquired from the above on 30 November 1954 (to join the pair to it which was previously separated), and thence by descent.

Exhibited and Published: Royal Academy of Arts, International Exhibition of Chinese Art 1935-6, London, 1935, p.245, no.2859

Captain Sir John W. Buchanan-Jardine became, like his family predecessors, the Chairman of Jardine, Matheson & Co. He was among the largest lenders to the Royal Academy of Arts International Exhibition of Chinese Art in Burlington House in 1935-36, his loan including the present pair of screens. The Exhibition remains the most important exhibition of Chinese Art ever held in Europe.

NoteThe present lot has sixty Shou (壽) characters on each screen. It is likely therefore, that it was made for the occasion of the Qianlong Emperor's 60th birthday celebration (held on the 1st month of the 35th year of his reign, approximately 1770). The motif of numerous Shou characters (meaning 'longevity') is common for birthday celebrations and appeared as early as the Kangxi reign. See a massive blue and white 'Ten thousand Shou vase, which bears 9,999 Shou characters and one wan character, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2002, pp.8-9, no.5.

See a single related incised celadon jade and lacquer 'longevity' table screen, 18th century, which was sold at Sotheby's Paris, 10 June 2021, lot 101.

Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art: Including Imperial and Court Textiles Curated by Linda Wrigglesworth, London, 2 november 2021