A RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI COMPOUND CABINETS, SIJIANGUI MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY | 明十七世紀 黃花梨雕雙龍供蓮紋四件頂箱櫃成對
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION 重要私人珍藏
Property from an Important Collection
A RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI COMPOUND CABINETS, SIJIANGUI
MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
each comprising a hat chest resting on a larger rectangular cabinet, the cabinet set with a pair of hinged doors composed of floating panels within rectangular frames flanking a central stile, opening to a shelved interior with two drawers, fitted with a circular baitong lockplate with pin and 'fish' pull handles, above a shaped beaded apron carved in relief with a pair of dragons confronted with a lotus bloom amidst ruyi cloud scrolls, raised on legs of square section with baitong mounts, the hat chest echoing the cabinet's construction without the apron and legs
126.5 by 63 by h. 251 cm, 50 by 24 ¾ by h. 98 ¾ in.
In overall good condition with high attention to detail including the high oil content in the material and application of cinnabar lacquer to the interior of the door and shelves.
Metalwork on the hat chests is original, and those on the cabinets are replaced. Minor restoration to the spandrel, one of the frames and the top of one hat chest. The underside of the cabinets are applied with elmwood veneer which is original and typical of its type. One cabinet with minor infilling to the right door, nail marks to the left wood panel to stabilise the inner components, and replacement to the right rear leg. The right door of the other cabinet with two small infilled holes from stabilisation of the inner components.
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.
Peter Lai Antiques, Hong Kong, 10th April 1990.
These massive cabinets are the largest type of furniture produced by Ming cabinet makers. Composed of a wide square-corner cabinet and a smaller chest that was placed on top, they combine functionality, durability, elegance and simplicity, characteristics that define classical Chinese furniture. The masterful craftsmanship in the present lot with the decoration of the turbulent waves on jagged rocks on the sides in particular suggests an imperial association for the cabinets. Compound cabinets were the piece-of-resistance in the home of wealthy families. Displayed in inner reception halls or kept in the women private quarters, their sheer size and angular silhouette were designed to create an impression of awe. In a passage from the 18th century novel Honglou meng [The dream of the red chamber], Granny Liu, an elderly country woman describes seeing for the first time the furniture in the Jia family compound: "They say that 'great families live in great houses' and truly when I first went into Your Ladyship's apartment yesterday and saw those great chests and cupboards and tables and beds, they took my breath away. That great wardrobe of yours is higher and wider than one of our rooms back home".
Chinese garments were never hanged but folded into flat rectangles and stacked in cabinets, and the large size of these cabinets made them ideal for storing garments or other large items. The upper chests, which were less accessible and often required a ladder to reach them, were used for storing accessories or garments that were needed less frequently. Large chests were part of a bride's dowry, and the Ming dynasty novel Jin Ping Mei [Plum in the Golden Vase], reveals that lady's fur coats were kept in large cabinets (da chu) that could be locked.
Two pairs of compound cabinets, one pair with the apron gracefully shaped but undecorated, and the second made of camphor wood and the apron carved with chrysanthemums, formerly in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture in California, are illustrated in Sarah Handler, 'Proportion and Joinery in Four-part Wardrobes', Chinese Furniture. Selected Articles from Orientations 1984-1999, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 36-7, pls 1 and 2; and a cabinet was sold in our New York rooms, 21st September 2006, lot 34.
可比兩對頂箱櫃，一對，牙條造型優美，未施雕飾，另一對，樟木造，牙條雕菊花，原中國古典家具博物館所藏，加利福尼亞，見 Sarah Handler，《Proportion and Joinery in Four-part Wardrobes》，刊於《Chinese Furniture. Selected Articles from Orientations 1984-1999》，香港，1999年，頁36-37，圖版1及2；市場上曾見一例，售於紐約蘇富比2006年9月21日，編號34。