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19th May, 2020 to 29th May, 2021

Beneath the Surface: Chinese Inlay; Japanese Maki-e; and European Cloisonné Enamel delved into and celebrate some of the most iconic and laborious decorative techniques of all times. Featuring more than 200 objects and spanning across two floors, the extensive exhibition showcased outstanding examples of surface decorative arts from the museum's permanent collections, offering a unique opportunity to understand their history, technique, design and cultural significance. 

The selected artefacts in this exhibition focusses primarily on the ancient technique of Chinese mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones inlay (baibaoqian), alongside a comparative display of Japanese lacquer (maki-e) and European cloisonné enamel from the museum's core collections of classical Chinese furniture; Japanese works of art; and Russian silver and European vanities. Ranging in form of expression, size and function, the exquisite works nevertheless represent the unique craftsmanship of their own cultures when presented alongside each other.


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A Pair of Huanghuali Inlaid Kang Tables China 17th century Huanghuali, mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones Height 29 x Width 95 x Length 62.5cm (each)

Zitan Jade-Inlaid Screen China Qing Dynasty (Qianglong reign, 1735-1796) Zitan, mirror and jade Height 75 x Width 41.5 x Length 21.7cm

Set of Shelves Japan 19th–20th century Maki-e lacquer over wood Height 89.5 x Width 90.5 x Length 44.5cm

Jūbako (Tiered Boxes) Maker: Kajikawa Bunryūsai (c. 1751–1817) Japan 19th century Maki-e lacquer over wood (Stacked) Height 26.7 x Width 20.3 x Length 18.9cm

Compact Maker: Van Cleef & Arpels c. 1930 Gold, enamel and diamond Height 1 x Width 5 x Length 5cm

Compact Maker: Faraone c. 1950 Gold and enamel Height 1.7 x Width 6.1 x Length 8.4cm

Vase Maker: Ando Jubei (1876–1953) 20th century Cloisonné enamel and silver Height 15.2 x Diameter 15.4 cm

Tea and Coffee Service with Imperial Warrant Maker: Pavel Ovchinnikov (1830–88) 1876 Silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel Dimensions vary; Diameter of tray 39.7cm

Tea and Coffee Service Maker: Antip Kuzmichev (1856–1917) Russia 1899-1908 Silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel Dimensions vary; Length of tray 38.1cm

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