A set of four late 18th century Chinese lacquer panels

A set of four late 18th century Chinese lacquer panels



A set of four panels of late 18th century Chinese lacquer, each tall panel richly decorated with a 'tree of life' emerging from a rocky and grassy landscape floor, painted in gold on a lustrous black lacquer ground, with exotic tumbling phoenix birds, butterflies, other insects and numerous symbolic flowers, in the manner of bird-and-flower chinoiserie wallpapers, now in conforming japanned border frames with a gilt outline.

The lacquer surface consolidated, the gilt decoration with minor retouching.

The technique of lacquer decoration was developed in China and Japan and involves the building up of layers of tree sap on a timber surface, resulting in a lustrous surface that was perfect for further decoration in gold and colour. From the late 16th century, panels such as this were transported from the Far East as screens or boards, to be used in the construction of fine furniture, for partitions or for the decoration of chinoiserie panelled rooms, throughout Europe. In 1682, the courtier and author John Evelyn described a visit to his neighbour, Christopher Bohune, in Lee, Kent.

"whose whole house is a Cabinet of all elegancies, especially
Indian, and the Contrivement of the Japan Skreens instead of Wainscot in the Hall .... is very remarkable; and so are the landskips of the Skreens, representing the manner of living, & Country of the Chinezes &c."


Height 218 cm / 86"
Width 63 cm / 25"

circa 1790