China, probably Beijing
Gilt-copper, cloisonné enamel, wood frames
132.4 x 47.5 cm (each panel)
This imposing set of eight panels is decorated with a succession of flowers chosen to represent the progress of the seasons. Each one is accompanied by a celebratory poem by Yu Minzhong (1714-80), a renowned scholar from the Imperial Hanlin Academy whose name appears inscribed on several paintings in the imperial collections. When the enameller used the poems, probably first written as calligraphy, he altered the date to correspond to the period when he was working on the panels.
Although every panel is conceived individually, when arranged in seasonal sequence a succession of loosely defined pairs is evident. These may be variously expressed by colour – such as the yellow flowers of the musk mallow and chrysanthemum – or by composition – the airy arrangement of the rose and wisteria or the denser display of the lotus and hydrangea. Such underlying structure may be compared with the more formally linked composition of a cloisonné enamel and wood screen representing the five human relationships in the Palace Museum, Beijing.
Haydn Williams, Enamels of the World: 1700-2000 The Khalili Collections, London 2009, cat. 70, pp. 126–8.