Tray with Figures in a Landscape
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay
H. 1/8 in.; Diam. 10 5/8 in.(27 cm)
Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving
The narrative quality of the imagery on this tray, which represents two young gentlewomen and their attendants walking on a moonlit evening, suggests that it illustrates a well-known, though unidentified, tale. The delicate openwork in the trunk of the willow tree is typical of the sixteenth century, as is the sparse rendering of the leaves. The sketchy treatment of the fauna and landscape elements reflects the influence of woodblock prints, which, in the sixteenth century, served both to illustrate literary works and as a means of disseminating visual themes or motifs.