An ivory rectangular panel carved in low relief with several objects, including a scholar’s rock on a stand, an archaic bronze bell adorned with ribbons, a round vase, a circular bronze mirror, a bronze ding, two writing brushes and a lobed jardinière with a large arrangement of flowering peonies. The edge of the panel is beaded. The back of the panel is plain and smoothly polished. The ivory is well patinated and reveals the fine grain and vertical lines of the texture.
The size and design of this delicately carved ivory panel indicate that it was probably once used as a table screen in a scholar’s studio. The decoration of scholar’s objects and archaic pieces adorning the panel, known as the ‘hundred antiquities’, illustrates the comfortable lifestyle of the scholars and their leisurely pursuits.1 A closely comparable 18th century ivory table screen, one side carved in low relief with archaic bronze vessels and the other side bearing an inscription from a Tang dynasty poem, is in the Sir Victor Sassoon collection.2 Four further comparable ivory table screen panels of similar size, decorated with stories on one side and inscriptions on the other, are in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.3
Provenance: the collection of Harry Geoffrey Beasley (1881 – 1939), collection no. 1004, acquired on 22 February 1921. With H.G Beasley collection label no. 22.2/21
- Qiette, B. ed. Cloisonné: Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, Bard Graduate Centre, New York, 2011, p. 120
- Kerr, R. Chinese Ivory Carvings- The Sir Victor Sassoon Collection, Scala, London, 2016, no. 514/700, pp. 118-9
- Yang, Bo-Da ed. Chinese Bamboo, Wood, Ivory, Rhinoceros Horn Illustration Catalogue, vol. IV, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn wares, Wen wu chu ban she, Beijing, no. 124, pp. 47, 154, 155