A dish headlining Sotheby’s May 10 sale in London is billed as one of the finest examples of Chinese lacquer carving to come to auction.
The piece dates to the late Yuan or early Ming Dynasty – a period of a century or more that witnessed the evolution in south China of the art of carved lacquer ware, from a decorative craft to the high-quality branch of imperially produced artefacts.
Large at 17½in (44.5cm) in diameter, the piece is carved in deep relief with a flowering peony branch surrounded by chrysanthemum, prunus, pomegranate, blade-like leaves of wild rice and gardenia. The base bears the needle-engraved signature of Zhang Cheng, a carver of red lacquer who became famous at the end of the Yuan dynasty.
Among its previous owners was the illustrious collector Sir Percival David (1892-1964), whose collection of Chinese ceramics now resides in the British Museum.
The dish returns to Sotheby’s London for the fourth time in over half a century, estimated at £400,000-600,000.