A rare pair of rectangular huanghuali cabriole-leg stools (changfangdeng), 17th centuryEstimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.

each with a waisted molded frame enclosing a soft-mat seat, supported by two bowed stretchers and four S-curve giant arm braces, with elegantly beaded scrolling and cusped aprons, resting on gently curving cabriole legs terminating in outward-turned scrolled feet (2). Height 20 3/8  in., 51.8 cm; Width 23 in, 58.4 cm; Depth 18 in., 45.7 cm

Property from the Zihanxuan collection

Provenance: Acquired from a private family collection in Canada in the 1980s.

BibliographyPhilip Mak, "Chinese Seating Furniture," Arts of Asia, vol. 40, no. 9, May-June 2010, pp. 93-109, pl. 46. 

Notes: A stool of identical form is illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Classical Chinese Furniture Hong Kong, 1991, pl. 18 and again by the same author in Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1990, pl. A25 where he discusses the form at some length. Wang notes that curving legs were considered a most admirable quality among Ming literati. In addition to the refined aesthetic, carving the serpentine line of the legs required an extravagant amount of the valuable and costly hardwood.  

Refer also to two related cabriole-leg stools formerly in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, but with carved aprons, legs and stretchers, sold at Christie's New York, 19th September 1996, lot 104, and illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, San Francisco and Chicago, 1995, pl. 17 and Sarah Handler "The Ubiquitous Stool", Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Summer 1994, pls. 19 and 19a.

Sotheby's. Monochrome, New York, 15 sept. 2015