A lacquer-painted pottery figure of a wild duck

戰國至西漢   描漆彩灰陶鸭

The duck is naturalistically depicted with a plump body and short upright neck, with the head facing forwards. The body is applied overall with a gesso-like layer to form a basis for the painted decoration, which is finely executed in black lacquer with different types of plumage for the back, the wings, the breast and the throat. The bright eye of the bird is picked out in an orange tone, with a black pupil. The underside has two sockets for the attachment of legs, perhaps made of metal or wood and now disintegrated. The body material is light grey coloured clay.

Examples of the early use of lacquer as a pigment, as here, rather than as a coating, are extremely rare. For a pair of closely comparable pottery ducks with lacquer-painted decoration from the Florence and Herbert Irving collection, see The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online collection database, Accession Number 2015.500.7.8 a,b, exhibited in “Introduction to Chinese Lacquer”, December 11th 2013 to July 6th 2014. The Irving ducks differ slightly in having rather longer necks, but may, given the level of finely observed naturalism, still represent the same type of duck, but with their necks extended.

Dimensions: Length: 16 cm, 6 ¼ inches

Date: Warring States Period (475-221 BC) or Western Han dynasty (206 BC- 9 AD), c. 3rd century BC

Stock No. 974

Price: On Request