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A Chinese Export Black Lacquer and Parcel-Gilt desk-and-bookcase, circa 1745 - Photo Sotheby's  

Feet possibly replaced. height 92 1/2 in.; width 42 in.; depth 26 in. 235 cm; 106.7 cm; 66 cm. Estimation: 80,000 - 120,000 USD

PROVENANCE: Sold, Sotheby's, New York, April 18-19, 2002, lot 433
Sold, Christie's, New York, Le Goût Steinitz, I,October 19, 2007, lot 30 ($301,000)

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: Tove Clemenson, 'Some Furniture Made in China in the English Style, Exported from Canton to Denmark, 1735, 1737 and 1738', The Furniture History Society Journal, 1985, pp. 174-180, fig. 7
M. Jourdain and R. S. Jenyns, Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century, London, 1950, p. 85, fig. 24
Lanto Synge, Mallett Millenium, London, 1999, p. 132, fig. 149

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: Made for the export market, the design of this elaborate cabinet richly lacquered with oriental scenes and figures in tones of gold on black ground, is based on contemporary European models. A group of similar desks-and-bookcases which are of this form include a pair of cabinets now in the Royal Castle of Fredensborg in Denmark which were acquired by Christian XV for the Royal collection in 1738 from Captain Guillame de Brouwer of the ship Sleswig. This ship had first visited Canton in 1734 under the auspices of the Royal Danish Asiatic Company. Besides the main cargo of tea, porcelains and silk, each seaman, according to rank, was allowed to return to Denmark with decorative goods, which he was able to sell by private treaty. Captain Brouwer obviously purchased the pair of cabinets sold to Christian IV in this way on his voyage 1736-37, as he personally sold them to the king, the bill of sale describing them as 'Scrif Contors' or writing cabinets. In 1744 one was described in an inventory as a black lacquered Chinese chestof-drawers with a secretary desk and above a cupboard with three small gilded figures on the top (see Tove Clemmensen, 'Some Furniture made in China in the English style, exported from Canton to Denmark 1735, 1737 and 1738', Furniture History, 1985, vol. XXI, pp. 174-177). A number of other Chinese export models demonstrate their Chinese influence by including sliding panels and small pagoda-like interior 'rooms' to the interior of the upper sections. For example, one of these types sold in these rooms, on October 29, 1983, lot 86. 

The present desk and bookcase is also similar to another group of cabinets, one of which was formerly in the collection of Lord Plender of Sundridge, which sold at Sotheby's London, November 7, 1997, lot 22(£100,500). Other similar cabinets sold in these rooms, June 28, 1996, lot 122 and October 20-21, 2003, lot 372 and most recently October 19, 2011, lot 715 ($266,500). Lord Plender's collection was formed under the guidance of R. W. Symonds and is illustrated in R. W Symonds, Old English Walnut and Lacquer Furniture, 1923, pp. 166-167, pl. XXXIX.

Sotheby's. Important English and European Decorative Arts. New York | 26 oct. 2012 www.sothebys.com