A Japanese lacquer box for incense selection, late 17th/early 18th Century.

The box consists of an upper compartment, containing a deep tray in which there are four small boxes.

It has four cabriole legs which sit upon a lower compartment fitted with a drawer containing a shallow tray.

The lid and the sides are decorated with paulownia trees and a phoenix, using flat and thinly raised makie in gold and aokin, with gold and silver sheets and cut gold foil.

The same motifs are applied within a circular frame on the top side of the drawer section.

The four small boxes are decorated with mandarin oranges, peaches, chestnuts and hydrangeas in thinly raised makie with gold and aokin and painted gold on a gold ground, height 12cm, width 12.6cm, depth 12.6cm.

The box is identical in shape, though not in decoration, to a pair in the famous collection of Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

The 1835 Burghley Inventory records: ‘Japan Closet, Japan in the Glass case opposite the door(s), sic, G.J. A Box with 4 small Boxes inside, also a drawer.’

The 1867 Burghley Inventory records: ‘Cabinets, No 88 Japan Closet, A gold japan box with 4 small boxes inside, and a drawer.’


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