An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period
Lot 319† W
An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen
Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period
Sold for £97,250 (US$ 161,216) inc. premium
Auction Details
An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period
Lot Details
An extremely rare and fine large Coromandel dated twelve-panel screen
Carved Kangxi cyclical date geng shen corresponding to AD1680 and of the period
The front side intricately decorated with a scene of a Daoist paradise depicting a heavenly landscape with the Daoist Immortals including Xi Wangmu (the Queen Mother of the West) seated on a deer cart flanked by two attendants, happily greeting Shoulao on the back of a flying crane, surrounded by attendants, pavilions, gnarled pine and wutong trees issuing from cragged rockwork, stylised cloud scrolls and a setting sun, all above swirling waves, within a narrow band of stylised animal scrolls and a further wide border with scholarly vessels and objects, and potted flowers, the back of the screen equally elaborately decorated and coloured with several groups of scholars and attendants admiring a scroll, practising calligraphy and relaxing in a garden setting with a river, leafy pine, willow, bamboo and wutong trees, and a setting sun, the front side with a dated inscription on the walnut shell on the right border.
Each panel 263cm high x 49cm wide(103½in high x 19¼in wide)

Footnotes

  • 清康熙庚申年(AD1680) 款彩群仙祝壽圖十二扇屏風
    「庚申秋七月丁酉日 漢西王母桃核杯」篆書款

    The present lot is an impressive and unusual example of a Coromandel screen, combining the exceptional quality of lacquer workmanship on a Daoist religious scene and a cyclically dated inscription on the walnut shell on the outer border.

    The walnut shell on the right side of the front border is inscribed as geng shen qiu qi yue ding you ri, Han Xi Wang Mu tao he bei (on dingyou day in July during Autumn in the year of geng shen, the Queen Mother of the West and the walnut cup). A screen decorated with phoenixes, dated to the Qianlong period, including a very similar inscribed walnut shell, is illustrated by W.de Kesel and G.Dhont in Coromandel Lacquer Screens, Ghent, 2002, pl.40.

    The present lot is decorated with Shoulao, the God of Longeivity, in the middle at the top who can be recognised with his distinctive high forehead and being depicted on a crane. Immortals are gathering and approaching Shoulao from all sides to celebrate his birthday, including Xi Wangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, arriving from the west. Xi Wangmu, who hands out the peaches of eternal life every 3000 years when they are ripened, is often depicted with servants holding a basket of peaches and a branch of peach blossom, and being in the presence of many happy Daoist immortals. The bottom right of the screen is decorated with a sea which is related to the legend that the Sea of Happiness lies to the East of this kingdom. This Daoist 'world of the Immortals' scene is mainly found in the Ming and Qing Dynasties in lacquer art.

    Compare a related twelve-panel Coromandel screen with Immortals, dated to the 18th century, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, also illustrated by de Kesel and Dhont in Coromandel Lacquer Screens, Ghent, 2002, pl.43. See also related examples sold at Christie's London, 10 May 2011, lot 202; and Christie's London, 6 April 1998, lot 101.



    An Impressive Chinese Dated 'Coromandel' Screen

    John Hardy
    Formerly Curator, Furniture Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    The colourful 'Coromandel lacquer' screen has long held special attraction around the world. Indeed this screen's decoratively framed landscape and richly peopled garden have provided entertainment for over three centuries, since it bears the date 1680. This screen is contemporary with another Coromandel screen, which was accompanied on its journey from Madras (India) in 1682 to Erdigg (in Wales) by a letter recording it as a gift from Elihu Yale, the East India Company's Governor.

    The English seventeenth century grand stately home, such as Erdigg or Surrey's Ham House, greatly depended on lacquered furnishings and their flowered hangings and porcelain to enliven the rooms by recreating the Roman concept of a Golden Age, Ver Perpetuum. This Arcady, imagined as a paradise of everlasting Spring, where love never grows cold, was particularly suited to stately bedroom apartments that served as reception rooms. Chinese porcelain tea-services formed part of their permanent display; with such landscaped screens providing a suitable background during the taking of the Chinese collation. The screen not only joined the bed-curtains in Winter in guarding against draughts, but provided the novel and whimsical ornament that generally set the tone for other furnishings. At the same time, the art of painting in the Chinese manner became very much part of the education of young ladies, and it was for them that Messrs. Stalker and Parker included patterns and recipes for trompe l'oeil lacquer in their celebrated 1688 Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing.

    The present screen's particular form of coloured and incised low-relief decoration was described in the Treatise as 'Bantam' work and was named after the Javanese factory established by the East India Company's Javanese factory in 1602. During the 18th century it became more generally known as 'Coromandel' work and took the name of Southern India's Oriental coast, where such furniture was off-loaded from Chinese junks onto the ships of the East India Trading Companies. Some screens had their leaves incorporated as wall-panels until supplanted by the Parisian fashion for hanging apartments in colourful Chinese paper. Other screens provided the veneer for bedroom furniture.

    From the late l8th century, the introduction of the comfortable 'Living Room' in place of the formal 'Withdrawing Room' (or 'Parlour') also caused screens to be introduced to the principal rooms of a house; while in the 19th and 20th centuries, they became popular in the dining room (or banqueting hall). By the middle of the last century, they were associated with the chic beauty of the magical Orient/Occident-inspired apartment such as that installed in Paris' rue Cambon by the fashion-designer Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, whose art patronage had begun with the purchase of a lacquer screen. Today a closely related screen, imported to France by the 17th century Compagnie des Indes Orientales, can still be seen in the Cernuschi Museum in Paris.
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