Lot 218. A pair of huanghuali yokeback armchairs (sichutou guanmaoyi), Qing Dynasty, 17th century. Height 45 3/4 in., 116.5 cm; Width 22 5/8 in., 57.5 cm; Depth 17 1/4 in., 44 cm. Estimate 180,000-250,000 USD. Lot sold 758,500 USD. Photo Sotheby's
each with an arched crestrail joined to a wide S-curved rectangular splat, the stiles similarly curved, on a hard caned seat with elegantly outscrolled arms above a beaded and shaped spandrel and a cusped and beaded apron, the legs joined to the frame by tapering dovetail housing joins surmounting long beaded moldings, joined by four typically ascending stretchers from front to back rail, the underside with the original pair of transverse braced but built up for a hard matted seat (2).
PROVENANCE: Collection of a church parishioner, donated to St. Matthias Church, Victoria BC.
NOTE DE CATALOGUE: The present pair of yokeback armchairs, predominantly plain with circular members of consistent thickness and truncated outscrolled ends, focuses the eye on the balance of the form, the negative space and subtle undulating movement within the linear form. This form is generally more comfortable than straight or C-curved examples, maximized by the S-shaped cut through the concentric growth rings of the timber. This type of large yokeback armchair is one of the core elements of the classical Chinese household and many examples are preserved in major museums and private collections.
For a general discussion on the basic model and decorative vocabulary of these chairs, see Curtis Evarts, 'From Ornate to Unadorned'. Journal of the Chinese Classical Furniture Society, Spring 1993, pp. 24-33. A closely related armchair, part of an exhibit, is illustrated in Beyond the Screen, Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th Centuries, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Catalogue, 1996, no. 8., p. 104 and a pair in another exhibit, Splendor of Style: Classical Furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, National Museum of History, Catalogue, Beijing, 1999, p. 82. A related armchair of similar form and size but with a medallion carving on the splat sold in these rooms 14th September 2011, lot 125.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, New York, 11 september 2012