Description & Technical information

A rare pair of silver gilt boxes of lobed forms with detachable lids, the outside decorated in intricate wire filigree with applique flowers. These boxes compare with a small range of such items made for the Chinese Imperial court as tribute pieces. They also relate to similar boxes among the Treasures of Catherine the Great of Russia, in an inventory list of the Winter Palace of 1789 which gives the set as being `Chinese`. The taste for `things Chinese` was well developed in Russia by the eighteenth century. Merchants and embassies were requested to source items for the Russian court that were Chinese. References: Related parcel-gilt silver examples are illustrated in Chen 1999, Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties, no. 164, p. 290, a slightly later example; in Palace Museum, The Imperial Packing Art of the Qing Dynasty (2000), no. 120, pp. 240–1; and in Yang 1987, Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, no. 40, p. 81, dated Yongzheng; a parcel-gilt silver casket, dated 1740–50s, in Arapova et al 2003, Chinese Export Art in the Hermitage Museum: Late 16th–19th centuries, cat. no. 154, p. 144; a small silver box in the same style, with an inscription stating that it was taken from the Summer Palace 1860, is in a private collection, with provenance to an English country house with descendants of a military man in China 1860; Cohen & Cohen 2013, p92, a pair of silver candlesticks from the same workshop; Cohen & Cohen 2014B, p27, No 14, another box with ahinged cover; for other related silver examples, see Piotrovski 2000, Treasures of Catherine the Great, no. 352, p. 213, in the shape of a cloud, and no. 364, p. 218, two boxes, dated mid eighteenth century, with festooned sides.

Date:  18th century
Period:  1600-1750, 1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  China
Medium: Silver gilt
Dimensions: 9 cm (3¹/₂ inches)
Categories: Oriental and Asian Art, Silver