Cloisonné enamel ink stick rest

Cloisonné enamel ink stick rest

China, late Qing dynasty, 19th century

Length: 4 3/8 inches, 11.2 cm

Width: 3 inches, 7.5 cm

Height: 1/2 inch, 1.5 cm

A heavy cloisonné enamel ink stick rest of rectangular form with short straight sides and a flat base. The flat surface is decorated in coloured enamels on a black ground with a five-clawed, forward- facing dragon in the centre. Its sinuous body encircles a flaming pearl above wild waves. The dragon is set against a turquoise ground and encircled by a glided oval rim. A flaming pearl further adorns the top of the oval, whilst the four corners are each decorated with a bat facing the centre. The rims, the sides and the base are all covered in a thick layer of gilding.

 

This heavy and exquisitely made ink stick rest is a fine example of late Qing cloisonné enamel. The five-clawed dragon, the fine quality and the unusual heavy weight all indicate that this piece might have belonged to the Imperial Court collection. The ink stick rest, also known as ink bed, ink-rack or inkstand, serves as a utensil where the ink stick is temporarily placed while still wet and easily able to stain other things. Ink stick rests are mostly made of jade, porcelain or wood, so the current piece made of cloisonné enamel is comparatively rare, and only found in the Qing Court collection. A set of Qianlong period (1736 – 95) cloisonné enamel stationery utensils, decorated with a dragon and cloud design, including a brush rest, a water receptacle and a rectangular ink stick rest, was formerly in the Qing Court collection and is now in the Palace Museum, Beijing (fig. 1). [1]

Provenance: private collection, Denmark

  1. Li, Jiufang, Jin Shu Tai Fa Lang Qi, Shang wu yin shu guan, Xianggang, 2002, no.124, p. 128
Fig. 1 A set of cloisonné enamel stationery utensils, Palace Museum, Beijing
Fig. 1 A set of cloisonné enamel stationery utensils, Palace Museum, Beijing