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A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'KING GEORGE AND QUEEN CHARLOTTE' STAINED IVORY CHESS SET, QING DYNASTY, CIRCA 1810

£ 4,800

Reference
1768
£4,800
Superbly carved, the red King and Queen are represented by the Emperor and Empress, the white King and Queen by King George III and Queen Charlotte, the rooks in the form of elephants with mahouts and castellated turrets on their backs.

A similar chess set was illustrated and discussed by D.S. Howard, A Tale of Three Cities, Three Centures of Sino-British Trade in the Decorative Arts, Sothebys, London 1997, cat. no. 251, p191, where the author mentions ' few concepts could illustrate the early exchange of cultures between China and Europe more dramatically than the Chinese game of chess. This set represents a period very late in the game…with the topical recent Embassy of Lord McCartney to China and the contact, albeit diplomatic, between the Emperor Qianlong and King George III.'

It seems as though the theme of East-West relationships is as topical today as it was in 1792, although arguably the boot is now on the other foot.

At the time of purchase, this set would have been a very expensive gift, with contemporary invoice of the 1840's listing the price at £9.3.0.

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Literature Crossman, The Decorative Arts of the China Trade, p.293 where a similar set is illustrated with the European King represented by Napoleon.
Condition Some minor losses