Nowadays we may cringe at the thought of a beautifully made eighteenth-century screen set before a blazing fire, but they are still practical as well as decorative. Originally made to preserve modesty, keep out draughts and shield delicate complexions, screens remain useful items. They also have a more decorative role. By Janet Gleeson sibly the oldest surviving cut-and-painted lacquer screen’, and the first to feature European figures, the screen was dated to the early seventeenth century by the Dutch ships and the costumes of the European figures that decorate its Chinese landscape. You will, however, only have to pay such prices for exceptional rarities.