CLASSICAL CHINESE FURNITURE FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION | 歐洲私人明清家具珍藏
November 4, 07:52 PM GMT
200,000 - 300,000 GBP
CLASSICAL CHINESE FURNITURE FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
A MAGNIFICENT PAIR OF LARGE HUANGHUALI CONTINUOUS YOKEBACK ARMCHAIRS, NANGUANMAOYI
LATE MING DYNASTY
each chair with an elegantly arched yokeback toprail supported by shaped spandrels and curving down to join the gently sloping rear posts continuing through the frame to form the back legs, with a well-figured wide splat tenoned to the underside of the yoke and into the back rail of the seat frame, the arms supported on baluster-form centre stiles, the rectangular seat frame enclosing a mat seat, the edge moulded and tapering inwards, the legs joined by a plain beaded apron, the side and back stretchers of ascending height
Each 120 by 62 by 48 cm, 47 by 24½ by 18⅞ in.
Purchased from Hei Hung-Lu, Hong Kong, late 1980s/early 1990s.
Elegant lines and generous yet balanced proportions characterize this magnificent pair of armchairs. Their round members and wide C-shaped back splats create a subtle, undulating movement that is completed in with minimal details such as shaped flanged and spindle-form stiles. The rich, lustrous honey-toned huanghuali of the back splats with matching grain pattern demonstrates that these two chairs were conceived and made as a true pair.
Chairs of this specific form are known as nanguanmaoyi, or ‘southern-official hat chairs’, and belong to a category of yokeback armchairs that were very popular in the Ming period. Nanguanmaoyi are characterised by the unbroken line from top and side rails to arms and legs, a feature that was made possible through the ingenious right-angle ‘pipe joint’. These comfortable and elegant chairs are somewhat less formal than guanmaoyi (‘official hat chairs') with protruding arms and crest rails, which were reserved for the master of the household and high-ranking guests. Nevertheless, the tall C-shaped splat of these chairs, would have forced its occupant to sit upright, thus endowing him with a sense of power and dignity.
This particular variation with continuous back and arm rails was first developed in the Ming dynasty, possibly inspired by bamboo chair construction, where pliable lengths of bamboo were bent and bound together with natural fibres. Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley in Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, pl. 9, cite two speckled bamboo chairs with continuous top and arm rails, illustrated in the Wanli period Kunqu opera Tale of the Jade Hairpin.
A similar chair is illustrated in Robert H. Ellsworth, Chinese Furniture, New York, 1970, pl. 6. Compare also with a pair of continuous yokeback armchairs from the collection of Dr S.Y. Yip, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th October 2015, lot 111. As single armchair with shaped aprons, but lacking the interior flanges, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is illustrated op. cit., pl. 9;