Coromandel lacquer screen

Coromandel lacquers take their name from the east coast of India, where they were landed from Chinese junks to be transferred to ships of Indian companies. These objects, which were most often intended in China to be offered to high dignitaries, were indeed widely imported into Europe, from the reign of Kangxi (1661-1722). When they arrived, they were incorporated into wealthy homes or were dismantled to be reused as decorative panels by furniture makers.

These works are made using a wooden frame covered with fabric and several layers of lacquer, a vegetable resin that polymerizes on contact with air. The decoration is then engraved in hollow, the contours remaining in relief, then painted using red, blue, green and white pigments, which contrast with the polished lacquer background varying from brown to black.

On the reverse of this screen are gilded inscriptions listing the people who contributed to offering it to a high military officer. On the front unfolds, in a frame where objects linked to the culture of scholars alternate with auspicious symbols, the residence of General Guo Ziyi (697-781), who is celebrating his birthday. A procession arrives from the right to introduce itself to the master of the house, who is enthroned in the central pavilion, while the left of the composition is devoted to the description of the women's quarters. This iconography is a classic subject on the screens of this period.


Coromandel lacquer screen
Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Kangxi reign (1661-1722)
Lacquered wood
H.282 cm; L.552 cm
MC 9808

Gift of the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum, 1988

Photo credit :

© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum


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