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A MOTHER-OF-PEARL INLAID BLACK LACQUER ‘ROMANCE OF THE WESTERN CHAMBER’ BOX AND COVER, BY JIANG QIANLI, KANGXI PERIOD
康熙江千里髹黑漆嵌螺鈿《西廂記》蓋盒

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Lot details

China, 1662-1722. Of circular form, supported on four short feet, covered in black lacquer, the cover finely inlaid in mother-of-pearl depicting a scene from Romance of the Western Chamber with a couple sitting on a scholar’s rock in a fenced courtyard and a lady secretly watching, the moon rising above the fence, all encircled by a geometric border. The interior inlaid in mother-of-pearl with the seal of Jiang Qianli.

Inscriptions: To the interior, ‘Qianli’.

Provenance: The Strong National Museum of Play, accession number 76.33.16 a (lacquered to base and interior of the cover). Old label ‘made in China’ to the base. Margaret Woodbury Strong (1897-1969) grew up in a prosperous family of collectors. Her interests ranged so widely that by 1960 she had amassed more than 27,000 collectible items and works of art. The vast majority of her collections related in some way to play and as her accumulation grew, Margaret planned a museum to house her collection. It eventually opened to the public in 1982, and grew dramatically over the following decades, expanding its collections, facilities, and resources, now spanning over 285,000 square feet. Today, the Strong National Museum of Play (known as just The Strong Museum or simply The Strong) is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the study of play.
Condition: Very good condition with old wear, traces of use and age, a minuscule chip to the foot, expected minor age cracks, microscopic losses and nicks.

Weight: 117.2 g
Dimensions: Diameter 9.3 cm

Jiang Qianli, alias Qiushui, was a master craftsman from Yangzhou in Jiangsu province. For early studies of Jiang’s work see Li Zhongqing ‘A Mother-of-Pearl Lacquer Tray by Jiang Qianli’, Wenwu, 1959, no. 11, pp. 59-61, and Paul Moss, Emperor, Scholar, Artisan, Monk - The Creative Personality in Chinese Works of Art, London, 1984, page 258. Jiang’s name is also mentioned in a number of historical records, including the 1810 edition of the Jiaqing Yangzhou fu zhi (Chronicles of Yangzhou Prefecture in the Jiaqing period) in which Zhang Shiyuan and Yao Youtian record:

"During the early years of the Kangxi reign, the scholar Zha Erzhan resided in Weiyang [another name for Yangzhou]. He was an accomplished painter of level distance landscape and the Mi school style of painting. An inch of paper or a foot of silk would be cherished if they were by his hand. There was also Jiang Qiushui whose skill produced mother-of-pearl inlaid lacquerware that was noted for its exquisiteness. These wares were widely sought after for use at banquets. A couplet says, ‘Where there are drinking cups and serving trays, there one finds Jiang Qiushui. Where there are scroll paintings, there one finds Zha Erzhan'."

The Romance of the Western Chamber, written by Wang Shifu (1250-1300) was immensely popular among all levels of society. Woodblock illustrations in the many editions helped conventionalize images that were instantly recognizable to the general public, thus creating a corpus of motifs that was widely used by painters, silk embroiderers, lacquer workers and other craftsmen.

Professor Herbert Giles, whose History of Chinese Literature was published in 1924, refers to the Xixiang Ji as the play “which will best repay reading”. It is the typical story where a handsome student and beautiful girl attempt to cross the social divide, aided and incited by the girl's maid. The dialogue is punctuated with images of wind, snow, moonlight, and flowers, emphasizing both the passion and the romance felt by the struggling couple.

Auction result comparison:
Type: Closely related
Auction: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 7 April 2014, lot 48
Price: HKD 325,000 or approx. EUR 49,000 converted and adjusted for inflation at the time of writing
Description: A mother-of-pearl inlaid black lacquer dish, by Jiang Qianli, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period
Expert remark: Compare the closely related inlay technique as well as the depiction of a scene from the Romance of the Western Chamber. Note that this dish is by the same artist, but is signed with a four-character seal mark Jiang Qianli.


康熙江千里髹黑漆嵌螺鈿《西廂記》蓋盒
中國,1662-1722年。圓盒,四道弧形短足。髹黑漆,蓋盒上用精美螺鈿描繪了《西廂記》場景,月下,張生與鶯鶯坐在園中假山石上,身側丫鬟偷偷觀望。

款識:盒内嵌螺鈿“千里”字樣

來源:紐約Strong 國立美術館,收藏編號 76.33.16 a (見盒底)。盒底有舊標籤‘made in China’ 。Margaret Woodbury Strong (1897-1969) 成長於一個富裕的收藏家家庭。 她的興趣範圍非常廣泛,到 1960 年爲止,她已經積累了 27,000 多件收藏品和藝術品。她的絕大多數收藏都以特定方式與玩耍有關,隨著她的收藏不斷擴大,Margaret計劃建立一個博物館來展示她的收藏。美術館最終於 1982 年向公眾開放,並在接下來的幾十年裡,其收藏、設施和資源急速擴大,現在佔地超過 285,000 平方英尺。今天,Strong 國立游戲美術館(簡稱為 The Strong 美術館館或簡稱為 The Strong)是世界上唯一一家專注於遊戲研究的以收藏為基礎的博物館。

品相:狀況極好,有磨損、使用痕跡和足部微小的缺損,老化裂縫、微小的損失和劃痕。

重量:117.2 克
尺寸:直徑9.3 厘米

江千里,字秋水,江蘇揚州人,一説浙江嘉興人。關於江千里早期作品研究可見《文物》,1959年,第11期,第 59-61頁,以及Paul Moss,《Emperor,Scholar,Artisan,Monk - The Creative Personality in Chinese Works of Art》,倫敦,1984年,頁258,包括1810年版嘉慶重修的《揚州府志》,也記錄了當時流行的一副對聯:“杯盤處處江秋水,卷軸家家查二瞻。”查二瞻就是查士標,康熙初年畫山水的名家。意思是說有錢人家都使用江千里的螺鈿漆器,牆上掛著查士標的山水畫,生活非常雅致。江千里技藝精湛,一生喜用《西廂記》故事作小件軟螺鈿鑲嵌,他開創了明代鑲嵌螺鈿細工的先河,名聲甲於海內外。

拍賣結果比較:
形制:非常相近
拍賣:香港蘇富比,2014年4月7日,lot 48
價格:HKD 325,000(相當於今日EUR 49,000
描述:清康熙黑漆嵌螺鈿「西廂記」故事圖盤,《江千里製》款
專家評論:比較非常相近的鑲嵌技術、西廂記主題。請注意此盤雖為江千里所製,但款識為四字的「江千里製」 。

 
 

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