A Hand Carved Chinese Temple Corbel Fragment

Jan 04, 2021. 12:09 UTC
A Hand Carved Chinese Temple Corbel Fragment
United States of America

Acquired from
Auction House

For sale

This fragment shows an active scene of riders on horseback, pagodas and other figures in the scene. This came from an Orange County auction of art and furniture from Asia. It is 17 inches wide by 12 inches high and 3.5 inches in depth. No damage--in very good to excellent condition.



As mentioned, this came from a monthly O.C. auction of mainly Asian art and furniture.

Answered within 7 days
Jan 11, 12:47 UTC
By Delia

Fair Market Value

$400 - $600 USD

Insurance Value

$0 USD
What does this mean?

Hi Rhonda,

Lindsey has assigned me to this as well as a Japanese plate and a pair of blue and white hexagonal vases. I should be able to get all three finished for you by the end of today.
This is showing as very yellow - is that gilding? paint? some kind of amber stain?
Thanks to advise when you can,
Many thanks,

Rhonda guess Jan 11, 22:03 UTC

There is a glaze over the entire piece. I am kind of out of my depth. I have seen some wood treated in this way that was referred to as "boxwood" or "elm." It is definitely varnished wood of some kind. Is it polychrome?
It was an emotional buy on my part.

Delia Jan 11, 22:39 UTC

Ok, that's a little helpful.
The scene seems fairly complete and I don't see any areas where this looks to have been broken off BUT I typically associate corbel fragments as having a 90-degree angle where they would have been tucked into. I don't see that here.
Polychrome is colorful paint or glaze - we often refer to a "polychromed" surface if we don't know exactly what the compound is (lacquer, shellac, ink, milkpaint to name a few, most of which are quite difficult to identify without microanalysis but we generalize based on tradition). I am guessing this was shellacked at a later date and is not the original surface. It's almost certainly late 19th century and would be carved from a fairly soft wood (elm is hard, boxwood is softer; sometimes these were carved from camphor or teak). Guessing that the brown stuff covering the back is a paper or fabric lining that has been pulled off?
If this were to go to auction, I would expect it to be catalogued as follows:

A Chinese carved softwood architectural fragment
late 19th Century
Profusely carved with figures, horses, birds and a temple in a landscape, on a later stand.
12 inches high, 17 inches wide 3 1/2 inches deep
CONDTION: with a later shellac / clear lacquer finish, on a later stand
PROVENANCE: acquired at an Orange County auction
*represents a fair-market value for auction purposes; retail or asking price may vary.

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