Tuesday 7 November 2023

Lot 31

A pair of Chinese hardstone-inlaid lacquer 'flowers and antiques' plaques Late Qing dynasty Each...

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Lot 31

A pair of Chinese hardstone-inlaid lacquer 'flowers and antiques' plaques
Late Qing dynasty

Price Realised: £1,706

Estimate: £1,500 - £2,000

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (31.2% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 31


A pair of Chinese hardstone-inlaid lacquer 'flowers and antiques' plaques

Late Qing dynasty

Each of the black-lacquered panels set within a black and red-lacquered frame, the panels inset in soapstone, jade and hardwood with elegant arrangements of antique vessels holding flowers and plants, one panel with a bonsai pine tree, a jade vase with white and pink chrysanthemum, two vases with prunus, a vase with coral and two incense burners, all on elaborate pierced wood stands, beside the inscription 'duofu shouyi', 多福受宜 (a million blessings); the other with a vase of blossoming prunus, one of nandina berries, a pot with narcissus and a jardinière with Rohdea Japonica, the plaque inscribed 歲兆清賞 'suizhao qingshang'.

Each 134cm x 59.3cm wide within the frame (2).

清晚期 木嵌硬石雕花卉博古圖紋掛屏一對

An evergreen that keeps its needles throughout the adversity of winter, pine is a symbol of longevity, as well as a symbol of gentlemen, representing virtues of self-discipline and fortitude. It is no coincidence that the God of Longevity, Shoulao, is often depicted in the shade of a pine tree, thus reinforcing the auspicious wish for a long life for the recipient of the artwork. It is also no coincidence that scholar gatherings are often represented in a pine grove, or in woods dotted with various species of pine trees.

Blooming through ice to herald the spring, the plum blossom is one of the most beloved flowers in Chinese art, symbolising the winter, but also inner beauty and humble display in adverse condition. It is often depicted on its own, or part of other important groups of flowers or rebuses, such as ‘the four gentlemen’, ‘the three friends of winter’, or ‘prunus on ice crackle’. Growing on gnarled old branches, looking fresh and pure, plum blossoms can also symbolise vigour in old age.

Chrysanthemum, beautiful and colourful, represents autumn. As it blooms in autumn when all other flowers are fading away, it symbolises the ability to withstand adversity. It is tranquil and harmonious with others, but also dignified and indomitable.

Known in Chinese as ‘Southern Heavily Bamboo’ (nantianzhu 南天竹), the Nandina berry is a popular subject matter in Chinese art, both for the sonority of its name, where the similarity of the words ‘bamboo’ (zhu 竹) and ‘wish’ (zhu 祝) make it especially suitable for visual puns, but also for its abundance of red berries which symbolises fertility, and is a perfect allegory for having many sons (zi 子).

Narcissus, in Chinese shuixian 水仙, literally 'water immortal', was a plant beloved of Emperor Yongzheng, who was depicted admiring it in his garden, in the album Shuzhai xiejing, 'Copying Sutras in the Studio', in the album leave series entitled Yongzheng xingle tu, 'Emperor Yongzheng at Play'. In China, it blooms late winter, or early spring, thus becoming associated with Chinese New Year. Since it includes the word for 'Immortal' (xian 仙) in its name, it is also associated with a wish for longevity. When seen together with of Nandina berries,  tianzhu 天竺, fungus, lingzhi 靈芝, and rockworks, shoushi 壽石, it forms the pun 'May the immortality of the fungus congratulate you on your birthday and bestow longevity', zhixian zhushou 芝仙祝壽.

The plant of Rhodea Japonica, with its tight cluster of red berries, also expresses the wish for fertility and male progeny.. Interestingly, this plant became a popular subject matter in art from the 18th century. As a Chinese evergreen, its name ‘wannianqing’ (萬年青) literally means ‘Ten thousand years green’,  where the word green (qing 青) is a homophone with Qing dynasty (清), thus doubling up as a wish of longevity to the Emperor and his dynasty.

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over £1,000 as follows:
0 to £50,000 - 4%
£50,000.01 to £200,000 - 3%
£200,000.01 to £350,000 - 1%
£350,000.01 to £500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding £500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at £12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website www.artscouncil.org.uk or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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