PROPERTY FROM AN OLD HONG KONG FAMILY COLLECTION
All four doors are exquisitely carved with birds and flowers in elegant compositions reminiscent of the earlier Kangxi and Yongzhen periods. The decoration on the panels of the four doors are meant to resemble scroll paintings, and may well be the actual reproduction of actual flowers and birds scrolls from the Qing court collection or taken from contemporary prints. The first one on the far right depicts two birds resting on plum branches, gazing at each other above rocks issuing further clusters of elderberries and narcissus. On the opposite side, two other birds play around branches of flowered quince bending above orchids. The second cabinet depicts the life in a pond, with an egret sheltered by wide lotus leaves expecting a good catch for dinner, while above, balancing on the spindly twig of a water reed, a kingfisher is about to fall on a reckless fly. On the fourth door, a graceful butterfly cannot disturb a couple of lovebirds sharing their passion in sweet melodies resonating among lush hibiscus flowers.
There are other cabinets and duobaoge featuring flowers and birds, either in huanghuali, zitan or hongmu, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing. See for example the side panels of a monumental pair of Zitan cabinets from the Qing court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Ming and Qing Furniture in the Palace Museum vol.15, Beijing, 2015, pl. 80. This pair is similarly carved with flowers and birds enclosed in upright panels, possibly from the same pictorial source. Compare also a pair of zitan cabinets, dingxianggui, sold with Poly auctions, Beijing, 30th November 2007, lot 80. All these pieces show a distinctive style and may well originate from the same workshop, specializing in the carving of flowers and birds after early Qing Dynasty masters.
Other Zitan cabinets from the Qing Court collection, also preserved in the Palace Museum, include one carved with phoenix and another with the symbols of the Eight Immortals, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (II), Hong Kong, 2002, pls 205 and 206, together with three cabinets with matching upper shelves, pls 204, 208 and 209. Compare also a slightly larger zitan cabinet carved on the front with bats, and the sides with a similar motif of a lotus pond and birds perched on flowering trees, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29th November 2005, lot 1604.
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