A huanghuali inlaid nanmu couch bed (luohanchuang), 17th century. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

of elegant proportions, the removable back and arm rails of solid board nanmu panels carefully inlaid withhuanghuali, the center panel with a pair of sinuous confronting chilong in low relief each within a rectangular frame and centered by a raised boxwood circular medallion of a stylized shou character, the side panels each with a single dragon similar to the others, the inlaid frame also on the back of the three panels, all held in position by locking dovetail tenons, the seat frame of standard miter, mortise and tenon construction supported by two bowed transverse stretchers in the middle and four corner braces mortised and tenoned into the long and short members of the frame, drilled for a soft mat seat, the straight apron slightly recessed and raised on four sturdy legs of square section terminating in inward turned hoof feet (4). Height 31 1/2  in., 80 cm; Width 82 in., 208 cm; Depth 40 1/2  in., 102.8 cm. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD

Provenance: Manfred Schoeni, Hong Kong.

Note: There are very few examples of couch beds, such as the present, with original back and arms datable to the late Ming early Qing dynasty. Because the rails are detachable, they are prone to damage and loss necessitating replacement. A similar bed but of jumu with confronting dragons is illustrated in Wang Shixiang,Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, vol. II, Hong Kong 1990, pl. C7. In vol. I of the same (ibid, p. 171), the author discusses the dating of carved dragons, relating the more abbreviated, seemingly worn surface  type such as the present example to an archaistic revival of the late 17th early 18th century. A couch bed of tieli andjichimu, carved with roundels of coiled chilong, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is illustrated in Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1999, pp. 84-85, no. 23.  Another fine example, all ofhuanghuali wood, with boldly carved confronting chilong, is illustrated in Grace Wu Bruce, Dreams of Chu Tan Chamber and the Romance with Huanghuali Wood: The Dr. S.Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong 1991, p. 128, no. 50.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. New York | 17 Sep 2013 - http://www.sothebys.com