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Jade Floor Screen (China)

By Fred Ward

Recently a collector in the USA asked if I would help her sell a Chinese floor screen that she acquired years ago. I thought our Friends of Jade members might like to see this unusual piece and even suggest a market. Interestingly she removed four panels and took them to GIA in California for analysis and the ID came back as “jade” but with no differentiation as to nephrite or jadeite, and no word about age. I’d call that a worthless lab report.

“The mate to this floor screen was sold by Southeby’s Hong Kong in 1987 as part of T. Y. Chao Private and Family Trust Collections. The description and details below are from the current owner.

Four hinged panels, each set with five removeable jade plaques. Overall height 70 inches. Overall width 52 inches. Inscribed brass feet. Beass 2-way hignes. Twelve jade plaques measure 7.5 x 10 inches; eight jade plaques measure 14 x 10 inches.

The wood framework is all huang-huali wood, sometimes called “Chinese rosewood.” Each jade plaque has it own huang-huali frame, which is held into the large by tension slides. The wood is magnificently carved on front and reverse sides in low relief. The stone is perfectly matched, highly translucent Chinese jade of light green and white color (not to be confused with dark “spinich green” jade from Siberia).

Subject: The stone is magnificently carved on both front and revwerse sides in low relief with landscapes (mountains, lakes, boats, houses, trees, etc.). The mountains are consistently off-set front-to-gack so that a three-dimensional effect is created, resulting in the appearance of a range of mountains. The condition is excellent. The style is of the Chien-Lung period (1736-1795). The age of this screen is not known but is probably late 18th century or early 19th century. This screen is a twin of the famous T.Y. Chao screen except for the subject matter on one side. The Chao screen has landscapes on one side and birds and flowers on the reverse. With the Chao format the three-dimensional effect described above would not be possible. The stone of this screen appears to be the same as the Chao screen and a larger screen in the National Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.

“Old Jade” screens appear to be quite rare. Old screens may be found in the Smithsonian Institution (the Vetlesen screen) and in a private collection in New York as well as the Chao screen, now in a private collection in Hong Kong, and that in the National Museum in Taipei. Modern screens, such as the Avery Brundage screen in the Asia Arts Museum in San Francisco, are not carved and may be painted and gilded. The rare huang-huali wood, apparently nearly extinct since the 18th century, is not found in modern screens. Newer frames are usually covered with lacquer, which may be painted aand filded. Tenon slides and inscribed brass feet are usually not found on modern screens.”

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Reader Comments (1)

Hey Guys,
I write now - June 3,2008
It will be interesting to see what response is forethcoming.

What was the outcome of this (potentialed) transaction?
I am interested in the measuring system in this art work.

June 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBernard Pietsch

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