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Christie's Michelle Cheng gets up close with a 12-panel coromandel lacquer screen

‘It’s one of the most beautiful coromandel screens I’ve ever seen,’ says specialist Michelle Cheng of the 12-panel lacquer piece to be offered on 14-15 September in our auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art in New York.

Commonly referred to as a 'coromandel', the term is in fact a misnomer. ‘Coromandel is a coastal region in the southeast of India. It was originally thought that these screens came from India, but in fact they come from southern China,’ Cheng explains.

Today the term has become shorthand for the technique used to create them: the application of lacquer, in even layers, over a softwood core. Once the lacquer has been applied designs are carved into the screen’s surface, and the recesses are filled in with coloured pigments to create vibrant scenes.

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