Sotheby’s is honoured to present the exhibition Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection from 14 August to 4 September at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery. Thirty-eight sets of furniture pieces selected from the sublime Collection will be exhibited in a contemporary setting with reference to the origin of the furniture in Ming dynasty Suzhou, demonstrating how their classic design transcends time to fit well in 21st-century living space.
Admired by collectors worldwide, Dr S Y Yip’s internationally acclaimed collection is the result of years of fervent acquisition of Ming furniture throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Most remarkable is the refined taste of the literati imbued within the collection, a testament to Dr Yip’s tenacious pursuit of perfection and scholarly temperament.
“Ming furniture” in the narrow sense refers to hardwood furniture made in the late Ming to early Qing dynasties, mostly in huanghuali wood. Originally manufactured in Suzhou, Dongshan in the Jiangnan area, these furniture pieces are of superb quality and, most notably, an ingenious and highly impressive joinery system.
The perfection of Chinese joinery in late Ming was a combined result of the tradition of fine carpentry transmitted from Song (960-1280) times and the Ming knowledge of hardwood. Technical advancement through the three dynasties resulted in mechanisms that are simple, precise, practical as well as aesthetically pleasant. The strength of the hardwood allowed craftsmen to create very complicated and ingenious joints. Metal nails are never used and glue is always secondary to the joinery. Joinery is the sole method by which members can be connected one to another on any surface regardless of whether they are thick or thin, slanted or vertical. The joints are crafted with such consummate skill that not even a hair can be inserted and executed so judiciously that a piece looks well from any angle.
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