Among the most precious of all screens are those made in seventeenth-century China and Japan from oriental lacquer. These highly prized luxuries were among the most expensive artefacts brought to Europe by the East India Company. They were often very large, incorporating up to a dozen panels, and – to complete the exotic effect – you could buy additional panels separately and have them made up into matching pieces of furniture. The allure of seventeenth-century lacquer screens remains largely untarnished, and good pieces invariably sell for high prices. A particularly interesting example sold for Â£36,700 at Christie’s March sale of the Dallas Pratt collection.