A crushed mother-of-pearl bordered inlaid lacquer double-sided table screen

明/ 清     黑漆撒螺鈿邊嵌百寶紋插屏

The panel of the screen is of rectangular form in landscape orientation. The front is decorated on a black lacquer ground with inlay of mother-of-pearl, stained bone, lacquer and different woods showing a branch of flowering and fruiting pomegranate beside a ruyi sceptre tied with a ribbon and sprig of fruiting persimmon. The reverse is boldly decorated using bamboo skin, depicting a leafy bamboo stem, also on a black lacquer ground. The frame of the panel is applied with black lacquer mixed with crushed mother-of-pearl, continuing onto the rest of the frame, comprising a taohuan ( 縧環 ) panel pierced with a single  elongated aperture, an angled apron, stout transverse feet and four scrolled zhanya ( 站牙 ) spandrels.

Table screens like the present example were part of the standard furnishings of a scholar s studio, and appear in numerous Ming and early Qing paintings and wood block prints. An example by Xie Huan ( 謝環 ), entitled Xingyuan Yaji Tu (Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden) dated 1437, of which two copies exist, one in the Zhenjiang Municipal Museum and one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, shows a table screen placed across the far end of a painting table set with scholars’ accoutrements.

For a double-sided screen like the present one, with crushed mother-of-pearl borders, showing branches of flowers on the front  and bamboo on the reverse, see Zhu Jiajin,  Le Mobilier Chinois. Époque Ming (1368-1644), no. 200, p. 248. A second, smaller screen is also illustrated in the same volume, no. 201. Both screens are in the Qing court collection, and are dated to the early Qing period.

Dimensions: Length: 56 cm, 22 inches. Height 53 cm, 20 ⅞ inches

Date: Late Ming dynasty (1368-1644) or early Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

Stock No. 2136

Price: On Request