Pair - A magnificent pair of zitan lacquer chests on cabinets 19th century
Lot 447W
A magnificent pair of zitan lacquer chests on cabinets 19th century
Sold for £434,400 (US$ 709,323) inc. premium

Lot Details
2 Zitaine cabine from teh Imperial Palace Peijin  cm 178 x 63 2 Zitaine cabine from teh Imperial Palace Peijin  cm 178 x 63 2 Zitaine cabine from teh Imperial Palace Peijin  cm 178 x 63
The Property of a Lady
A magnificent pair of zitan lacquer chests on cabinets
19th century
Each rectangular cabinet surmounted by an upper chest and enclosing two drawers, the front panels superbly carved in high relief with six writhing five-clawed dragons soaring amidst clouds above islands and crashing waves, the panels framed by meandering leafy lotus scrolls, all above the apron carved in high relief with clouds, the sides, top, back and interior finely decorated in gilt on black lacquer with scenes of scholars, ladies and attendants engaged in leisurely pursuits, the metal mounts incised with stylised archaistic dragons.
169cm (66½in) high; 83.3cm (32¾in) wide; 39.2cm (15¼in) deep (8).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: an Italian private collection, by descent from the Italian Ambassador in Manchuria (1937-1938). This earlier ambassador is said to have been a personal friend of the Xuantong Emperor, Puyi, at a time when he reigned as the Kangde Emperor of Manchukuo. The ambassador was also well connected to the Japanese General Kenkichi Ueda, who was the Commander in Chief of the Kwangtung army, the Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo and a member of the Japanese Supreme War Council.

    The present pair of zitan lacquer cabinets is a testament to the superb craftsmanship of Imperial court furniture in the 19th century. It is very likely that the cabinets were produced at the zaobanchu, the Imperial Workshops in the Forbidden City, Beijing, where the most skilled carpenters from Suzhou and Hangzhou were employed. The attention to detail is exemplified not only in the outstanding high-relief carving of the main design of dragons amidst clouds on the front of the cabinets, but rather in the all-round gilt on lacquer decoration, which extends to the top, back and interior of each cabinet.

    A related pair of zitan lacquer cabinets, attributed to the Yongzheng/ Qianlong period, of slightly smaller proportions, with each cabinet also carved with six dragons and with lacquered sides, top, back and interior, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 25 April 2004, lot 94.

    For a pair of zitan cabinets with related 'dragon amidst clouds' design incorporating six dragons in each cabinet, situated in the bedroom behind the Yangxin Dian, Hall of Mental Cultivation, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (II), Hong Kong, 2002, pl.249.

    The metal mounts incised with archaistic dragons are very similar to the mounts illustrated by Tian Jiaqing in his article 'Zitan and Zitan Furniture', published in Chinese Furniture: Selected Articles from Orientations 1984-1999, Hong Kong, 1999, p.199, fig.11, where the author notes that the gilt plate is typical of the fittings on Imperial Palace furniture.
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