A magnificent finely carved Imperial zitan 'dragon' cabinet and stand Qianlong
Lot 323
A magnificent finely carved Imperial zitan 'dragon' cabinet and stand Qianlong
Sold for HK$ 980,000 (US$ 126,386) inc. premium
Lot Details
An Imperial zitan cabinet from the John and Berthe Ford collection
A magnificent finely carved Imperial zitan 'dragon' cabinet and stand
The rectangular cabinet with chamfered corners, the double front doors framed and secured in place by four gilded hinges and locking mechanism, intricately carved on each side with a fierce five-clawed dragon thrashing its wings amidst turbulent waves in search of a flaming pearl with another onlooking dragon in high relief, the same decoration repeated at both sides, each of the triple-tiered drawers also showcasing a pair of the mythical beasts facing-off each other, the sides boasting carefully worked crab, carp, conch, frog and other marine creatures, surmounted at the very top with a fearsome forward-facing dragon, all sitting atop a matching rectangular lotus pedestal supported on four feet at the axis, each side with a ruyi-shaped cartouche with further dragon motifs, all enclosed within fine woodwork of inlaid keyfret wireworks, the handles fashioned in resemblance to baskets.
62cm high. (2).


  • 清乾隆 紫檀木鏤雕雲龍紋多寶格櫃

    Purchased in Seattle in 1965 from Arthur Loveless, an architect and personal friend of Lilla Perry and Richard Fuller, the founder of the Seattle Art Museum and its first director.

    The current cabinet is constructed from the finest quality zitan wood, a material reserved for the Imperial court. The subject matter of five-clawed dragons, and the high quality of the carving, point strongly to it being made for one of the Imperial family. For zitan carving of identical subject matter and comparable quality, see an Imperial zitan box from the Qing Court Collection, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, carved with five-clawed dragons, containing a famous inscribed jade album of eighteen luohan. It is illustrated in Jadeware (II). The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Shanghai, 2008, pg.9, no.5.

    This cabinet would have been commissioned to hold antique curio or small scholar's objects. For a related example of a stationery box comprising three drawers below a cabinet, see a bamboo veneer example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Wan-go Weng and Yang Boda, The Palace Museum: Peking. Treasures of the Forbidden City, London, 1982, pl. 193.

    The collection of John and Berthe Ford is famous for its Himalayan art, one of the most important private holdings in the world. The collection has been widely exhibited, including Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal and Tibet, which was shown between 2001 and 2004 at the Walters Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Albuquerque Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, and Hong Kong Museum of Art. In an extraordinary act of philanthropy, the Fords have recently donated their entire collection to the Walters Art Museum, their home museum in Baltimore. The John and Berthe Ford collection of jades was sold in these rooms, 25 May 2011.
  1. Sally Fong
    Specialist - Chinese Works of Art
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work +852 2918 4321