Unique Set of Chinese Emperor’s Erotic Ivory Screens to Sell at Bonhams


LONDON.- A unique set of Chinese erotic ivory panels mounted in zitan wood screens, possibly from the court of the Qianlong Emperor, is estimated to sell at Bonhams next fine Chinese Art Sale in London on May 12th for an estimated £800,000 to £1.2 m. The exquisite 18th-century ivory scenes show couples enjoying amorous embraces in a variety of leafy palace gardens. These superb panels of Oriental erotica are the latest discovery that will doubtless attract competition from Chinese bidders keen to buy back their heritage. The reliefs are mounted on eight leaves made of the precious zitan wood, a prized, slow-growing timber whose use in China was controlled by the palace workshops. The 12-inch-high panels are hinged like books, allowing the carvings to be viewed at the discretion of the owner. Asaph Hyman, a senior specialist in Bonhams Chinese Department, says