European Lacquer Cabinet on Stand with Kangxi Panels


The cabinet circa 1810 - the doors KANGXI PERIOD CIRCA 1680/90

This is currently used as a clothes cupboard with a hanging rail but shelving could be added for other uses.

The pair of exquisite Chinese incised coromandel lacquer doors display elegant, courtly scenes centring on an important official, probably General Guo Ziyi. These panels were almost certainly part of a 12 fold screen depicting ‘A Bed-full of Tablets’, a Kangxi period dramatization of the Guo Ziyi legend. General Guo served four emperors during the Tang dynasty and was instrumental in quelling the An Shi rebellion. On his 60th birthday so many family members and officials came to offer their congratulations that his bed was literally covered with gifts of memorial tablets.  Screens with this depiction are therefore associated with congratulatory and commemorative events and often display lengthy inscriptions to the intended recipient. Accordingly, the reverse of the present two panels are inscribed with fine Chinese Calligraphy in gilt, which form part of a dedication.

The doors with a magnificent engraved and pierced escutcheon plate are attached by 16 engraved and pierced gilt brass hinges to the black lacquered case. The triple panelled sides, each outlined with shallow carved lines and corner spandrels are bordered by a wide Greek key moulding. The whole sits on a short base with a plain frieze above a pierced trellis work apron flanked by scroll shaped knee supports terminating in stylised ball and claw feet. Gilt brass corner brackets and magnificent carrying handles are additional features.

A very rare feature of this cabinet is that the entire carcase apart from the base is made of thinly layered lacquered wood which is then covered in muslin to which further coats of lacquer are applied. The purpose of this unusual process is to cushion the surface from everyday wear and tear.  This work indicates that the Cabinet was assembled in an important and sophisticated workshop.

For a virtually identical pair of panels on a 12 fold screen, inscribed 20th year of the Kangxi reign (1681) see Christies New York sale 2775, 22nd October 2013, lot 77.

Comparable Coromandel panels also  appear on a medal cabinet from the collection of Joseph Pellerin (1684-1782) Style Regence 1730 and acquired for the Royal collection in 1784 inv. No. 55.701

Measurements: height 83”(210 cm) width (41”(104cm) depth 20”(51cm)

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