Metal incense burners were widespread in China as decoration for secular and temple interiors during the Ming dynasty. Xuande period examples are exceptional for their rare artistic quality. Incense burners were used either for their original purpose – burning fragrant essences – or could serve as purely decorative objects. When the collecting of Chinese artefacts by European elites peaked in the second half of the 19th century, incense burners were among the most sought-after items acquired for European clients. This incense burner comes from the collection of painter Viktor Stretti (1878–1957), who was a keen admirer of Chinese art and assembled a remarkable collection for his time; he also used it as a source of inspiration for his work.