A HUANGHUALI MEDICINE CHEST, YAOXIANG MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY | 明十七世紀 黃花梨十四屜藥箱
1,500,000 to - 2,000,000 HKD
Property from an Important Collection
A HUANGHUALI MEDICINE CHEST, YAOXIANG
MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
the rectangular chest of miter, mortise, tenon, tongue-and-grooved flush floating-panel construction, the hinged doors composed of floating panels set within rectangular frames, the sides and top similarly constructed, the interior with fourteen drawers divided into four rows, above a cusped apron carved with intertwining scrolling tendrils and plain spandrelled side aprons
84.8 by 46 by h. 112.5 cm, 33 ⅜ by 18 ⅛ by h. 44 ¼ in.
Made entirely of huanghuali, the chest is in good overall condition. There are occasional age cracks to the base of the drawers with two of them later replaced with huanghuali.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.
Christie's New York, 3rd December 1994, lot 258.
The panelled doors of this cabinet open to reveal fourteen small drawers of different sizes. Square-corner cabinets with multiple drawers are generally described as apothecary cabinets and used for storing herbs and medicines, but could have been used to store and sort a variety of objects, from documents to writing materials, accessories and treasured objects. The Ming dynasty intellectual and theorist on interior design Li Yu (1611-1680?), in his Xian qing ou ji [Random notes on times of leisure] from 1671, discusses the usefulness of drawers and describes a multi-drawer cabinet designed for scholars after pharmacists’ ‘hundred-eye cabinet’ (bai yan chu).
Apothecary cabinets are unusual and extant examples are more commonly known of smaller size; compare a smaller cabinet lacking the doors, from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, sold in our New York rooms, 19th/20th March 2007, lot 303; and a much smaller one illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Hong Kong, 1990, vol. II, pl. E21. See also an apothecary chest, from the collection Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, sold in our New York rooms, 30th March 2006, lot 118; and another from the Jingguantang collection, sold twice at Christie’s New York, 20th March 1997, lot 8, and 21st September 2004, lot 15.
Apothecary cabinets are mentioned in the Lu Ban jing [Classics of Lu Ban], the 15th century carpenter’s manual named after the mythical patron of the carpenter’s craft. Here a cabinet with twenty-four drawers arranged in tiers of seven is described and named as yao chu.