Asiatic Art Valuations

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Antique screen

Do you own any screen? Are you curious to know what they are worth? Our Experts can provide a free appraisal to give you an estimate of the market price, then help you to ensure the best possible price should you decide to sell.

The invention of the folding screen

The screen was created in China during the Zhou dynasty (-771 to -256). The first creations were fixed screens. It was not until the Han dynasty (206-220) that the panels were foldable thanks to the inclusion of metal hinges. The first examples were made of wood before being going on to be made of silk or paper. The latter found their place in all types of bourgeois interiors. The folding screen would also flourish in Japan.

The Asian folding screen made it possible to make a separation in a room in order to keep warm or to preserve a certain intimacy. It has also been attributed with a virtuous aspect, as it would block evil spirits.

Chinese artists would use the screen as a support to create landscapes or calligraphic decorations. During the Ming dynasty (1368-644), the lacquer technique was used for this piece of furniture. The lacquer, often black, was sometimes inlaid with pearl, ivory or other materials. These luxury objects can be given up to thirty coats.

Japanese screens are distinguished by their decoration and the system of ropes or leather straps. This piece of furniture would become common during the Nara period (646-794).

Contemporary artists such as Alix Aymé  make real precious objects. She synthesises Japanese lacquer art and Vietnamese painting in the motifs. One of her works sold for 182,000euros. A folding screen “Les Villageois” by Nguyen Gia Tri was sold for 380,000 euros.

Asian art collectors are therefore amateurs of this type of object. Some European and Asian artists collaborate to create exceptional pieces. A screen by Jules Leleu and Katsu Hamanaka sold at auction for  63,232 euros.

Characteristics of the various types of screens

The oldest Chinese screens are characterised by wooden panels which were later replaced by paper and silk. They are usually fixed on a base. Calligraphy and landscape paintings are the most common decorations on these Chinese screens. The lacquer technique, applied in successive layers, appeared in the 14th century. The wooden panels were then covered with a black lacquer engraved and inlaid with pearls, ivory and other materials.

In the 8th century, the Japanese took possession of this object and made it into more mobile partitions, adapting perfectly to the fire and earthquake risks of their country. The wood was then replaced by sheets of paper and the hinges by ropes, making the whole thing lighter.

The paintings that decorate the screens are also evolving in Japan. Among the styles that have developed over time, we may point out the very lyrical Nanga current, or even the kano, echoing ancient Chinese ink techniques, passing through the classical and colourful rimpa, or the soga, specialised in the representation of falcons. The ensemble generally makes up a narrative and can be read from left to right.

However, it is the Korean screens that are the most richly decorated and ornamented, transforming these objects into true works of art.

Screens were brought to the West since the 15th century, and appeared in France in the 16th century in religious buildings, then in private homes in the 17th century. They were then made of fabric decorated with silk, gold or silver. Painters such as Antoine Watteau or François Boucher, and later Paul Sérusier and Pierre Bonnard in the 19th century, keenly decorated them.

Antique screens on the art market

The prices of folding screens vary greatly, and there are many different screens on the market. While it is possible to find some at very low prices, the most popular ones are sold for over a million euros. This was the case of the Rare and important twelve-leaf lacquered folding screen by Coromandel, made in China in 1699 which sold for 2,110,000 euros at Christie’s Paris on 12 December 2019.

Other more modest models are also popular in auction houses, such as the 17th-century Japanese six-leaf folding screen, was sold for 16,250 euros (Christie’s Paris, 12 June 2019) and the Six-leaf folding screen, circa 1920, sold for 37,500 euros (Christie’s, Paris, 10-11 December 2019).

How do we appraise your antique screen?

Requesting an online appraisal of your asiatic art is simple and entirely free of charge. You just need to complete our appraisal form with a brief description and some photos. This information will be sent directly to one of our antiquarian screen experts who will provide you with a price range and sales advice.

expertise process

A team of experts and auctioneers

If you own a screen, use our online form for a free appraisal.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent opinion of the market price. Should you wish to sell your screen, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available for selling at the best price.

Get an online appraisal >