Height: 3/4 inch, 1.7 cm
Width: 2 5/8 inches, 6.8 cm

Lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlaid box and cover

China, Qing dynasty, early 18th century

A small lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlaid box, of ruyi shape, the cover finely decorated partly in gold, with a well-balanced composition of a fisherman in a boat, his rod reaching over the waves, all below a tree growing from the shore and a mountain top in the far distance. The scene is framed by a border of mother-of-pearl. The sides of the box and cover are decorated with a very fine wave-pattern. Fruit branches adorn the interior of both box and cover, as well as the flat base.

Despite its small size, the present box perfectly demonstrates the technique of inlaying mother-of-pearl in lacquerware, which became particularly refined during the late 17th and early 18th century. It was during this period that elegant artistic solutions were gradually developed, such as the careful selection of mother-of-pearl fragments based on their refracting colour, and the addition of gold and silver foil, as well as mother-of-pearl ‘dust’.[1]

Formerly in a private German collection

  1. Garner, H., Chinese Lacquer, London 1979, pp. 227, 236