Chinese Lacquer

Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century

Exhibition Website

- Jun 19 2016

Lacquer, the resin of a family of trees found throughout southern China—as well as in Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan—is an amazing material. When exposed to oxygen and humidity, lacquer hardens or polymerizes, becoming a natural plastic and an ideal protective covering for screens, trays, and other implements. Mixed with pigments, particularly cinnabar (red) and carbon (black), lacquer has been also used as an artistic media for millennia.

This installation, which features all of the most important examples of Chinese lacquer in the Museum's collection, explores the laborious techniques used to create scenes based on history and literature, images of popular gods and mythical and real animals, and representations of landscapes and flowers and birds.

Credit: Exhibition Overview from the Metropolitan Museum website

Whether you go or no: Although this book was published by the Met in 1991, East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, it does represent the museum's Irving Collection which comprises a wide range of styles and techniques from the 13th through the twentieth centuries.

  • Decorative Arts
  • Asian
  • Chinese
  • Lacquer

Exhibition Venues & Dates