Exhibitions/ Art Object
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明 永樂 剔紅牡丹紋盒
Box with peonies

Period:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Yongle period (1403–24)
Date:
15th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Carved red lacquer
Dimensions:
H. 2 3/4 in. (6.4 cm); Diam. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Purchase, Arthur M. Sackler Gift, 1974
Accession Number:
1974.269a, b
Not on view
Frequently depicted in carved lacquer, peonies are an important symbol for honor, rank, royalty, and wealth. This box bears additional flowers along the sides: camellias, chrysanthemums, pomegranates, and tree peonies. It is one of several pieces in The Met collection with a six-character mark carved on the bottom reading “Made during the reign of the Yongle emperor” (Da Ming Yongle nian zhi). The use of marks like this, seen more commonly on ceramics, began in the early fifteenth century and continued in all media into the twentieth. Works so marked were likely produced for the court.
Inscription: Inscribed: Da Ming Yongle nian zhi 大明永樂年製 (made in the Yongle era of the great Ming)
A. Chester Beatty 1875–1968 ; Frederick M. Mayer 1898–1974 , New York (until 1974; to Christie, Manson & Woods) ; Mayer sale, Christie's, Manson & Woods Ltd. June 24–25, 1974, lot 124; to Sparks ; [ John Sparks Ltd. , London, 1974; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Defining Yongle, Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China," April 1, 2005–July 10, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer," July 18, 2005–November 14, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Painted and Carved," 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: An Introduction," December 4, 2007–May 11, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer," August 6, 2009–February 21, 2010.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Red and Black: Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century," September 7, 2011–June 10, 2012.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Introduction to Chinese Lacquer," December 11, 2013–July 6, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sumptuous: East Asian Lacquer, 14th–20th Century," October 25, 2014–August 9, 2015.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th to 19th Century," June 15, 2016–October 9, 2017.

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