Lot 3616. A finely carved white jade box and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 15.5 cm. Lot sold 1,890,000 HKD (Estimate : 2,000,000 - 4,000,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022
Property from the De An Tang Collection.
Exhibited: A Romance with Jade: From the De An Tang Collection, Yongshougong, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 108.
Note: This charming box is exquisitely carved with a long-tailed bird among swaying millet sprays and lingzhi sprigs. The sides are decorated with cartouches enclosing the Eight Buddhist Emblems (bajixiang), interspersed with stylised characters for longevity (shou). It is rare to find boxes of this size and motif. Compare a related box from the Baur Collection, illustrated in Pierre-Francis Schneeberger, The Baur Collection: Chinese Jades and Other Hardstones, Boston, 1976; and a 'bajixiang' box from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, sold in our New York rooms, 9th October 1987, lot 173. See also a 'wufu and bajixiang' box, formerly in the collection of Stanley Charles Nott, sold at Christie's New York, 22nd March 2007, lot 96.
For boxes of similar type and size, with undecorated sides, see a 'magpie' example in the British Museum, illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pl. 29:11, possibly the same box from the collection of Geoffrey C. Hughes, sold at Christie's New York, 27th November 1991, lot 191; a 'prunus' box sold in our New York rooms, 31st March 2005, lot 77; and also a 'quail' box from the collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee, sold in these rooms, 8th October 2019, lot 107.
Boxes of this circular form were used for holding incense and often displayed together with an incense burner and a small vase. Two jade garniture sets of this type, but the boxes carved on the cover with different motifs, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, are illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 10: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pls 112 and 113.
Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art including Jades from the De An Tang Collection and Gardens of Pleasure – Erotic Art from the Bertholet Collection, Hong Kong, 29 April 2022