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Lot 117. A pair of huanghuali large horseshoe armchairs, Late Ming dynasty;  102 by 61.6 by 47.6 cm, 40 1/8  by 24 1/4  by 18 3/4  in. Estimate 2,800,000 — 4,000,000 HKD (329,544 - 470,778 EUR). Lot Sold 3,920,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's.

each well proportioned, the arm, beginning and ending in gently returning knobs, constructed of five sections joined by overlapping pressure-pegged scarf joins, the plain 'S'-curved back splat tongue-and-grooved into the underside of the horseshoe arm and the back member of the seat frame, the stiles and posts tennoned into the the horseshoe shaped arm and passing through the seat frame to become the legs, a pair of small shaped spandrels tongue-and-grooved into the posts and underside of the arm, the arm supported with tapering 'S'-shaped braces, the seat frame, of mitre, mortise and tenon construction with exposed tenons on the short rails with two transverse stretchers underneath, the edge of the frame gently curving and ending in a narrow flat band, the shaped, beaded-edged front apron butt-joined to the underside of the seat frame, tongue-and-grooved to the legs and tennoned into the footrest, the side aprons similarly shaped, the back apron modelled plain and high, the legs joined in front by a shaped footrest and on the sides and back by square-section stretchers with rounded outside edges, all with exposed tenons, the footrest and side stretchers with plain aprons below.

ProvenanceGrace Wu Bruce, London.
L B MacBain Collection, London.

ExhibitionGrace Wu Bruce at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair, London, 2001.
Grace Wu Bruce at The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, 2008.

Bibliography: Grace Wu Bruce at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair, London, 2001.
Grace Wu Bruce at The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, 2008.

NoteThis completely plain pair of horseshoe-back armchairs with fluid curves and simple lines is distinguished by their purity of form. They are also larger and taller than standard examples. The ranking of chairs in the Ming period was hierarchical with large-sized chairs being deemed more important seats reserved for the master of the house and senior guests.

One of the three main types of Ming chairs, the horseshoe-shape design is uniquely Chinese and has inspired various twentieth century furniture designers to create well-known modern examples.

Compare a very similar example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in Craig Clunas, Chinese Furniture, Victoria and Albert Museum Far Eastern Series, London, 1988, p. 25.

Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – An Asian Private Collection, Hong Kong, 06 avr. 2016, 02:00 PM