Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Picnic basket, Qing dynasty, 19th century
    China
    Zitan wood with metal corner mounts, inlaid with mother–of–pearl and semiprecious stones; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.3 cm), L. 15 1/8 in. (38.4 cm), D. 7 3/4 in. (197 cm)
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Corbus, 1977 (1977.262a–g)

    This picnic box is constructed of zitan and reinforced with metal hardware. It is outfitted with three stacked trays, one hidden flat tray, and a flat cover, which is fastened to the sides of a humped handle with a long wooden pin. The hardness of zitan makes it an excellent material for receiving inlaid decoration, which covers the entire box and comprises mother-of-pearl, various semiprecious stones, and contrasting wood.

    The designs on this picnic box appealed to popular taste for the fantastic and auspicious. The upper side of the cover displays a scene of combat between two figures, both bearing swords, and probably illustrates an episode from a popular story of chivalries. The action on the left is balanced in the lower right corner by a pine, symbolic of longevity and constancy, bearing many cones, symbolic of abundant progeny. Under the pine grow two lingzhi, the magical fungi of immortality.

    The sides of the trays are adorned with sprigs of flowers, leaves, and fruits, all with auspicious allusions, arranged horizontally in a seminatural fashion.

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  • Picnic basket, Qing dynasty, 19th century
    China
    Zitan wood with metal corner mounts, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and semiprecious stones; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.3 cm), L. 15 1/8 in. (38.4 cm), D. 7 3/4 in. (197 cm)
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Corbus, 1977 (1977.262a-g)

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