1

4

3

2

Lot 3018. A huanghuali square corner cabinet, Late Ming – Early Qing dynastyEstimate 380,000 — 550,000 HKD. Lot sold 812,500 HKD. Photo: Sothebys. 

the top of mitre, mortise and tenon frame construction with a tongue-and-grooved floating panel supported by two dovetailed transverse stretchers underneath with exposed tenons on the short sides of the frame, resting atop four square uprights pyramid-joined to the top with one tenon exposed, the uprights with huanghuali floating panels tongue-and-grooved on the sides and back, the two doors of standard mitre, mortise and tenon frame construction with a two-board floating panel and two dovetailed transverse stretchers tenoned into the door frame, the interior of the cabinet with a permanent central section constituting a shelf and two drawers with baitong plates and pulls, above a stretcher and beaded-edged curvilinear apron carved with scrolling tendrils, tongue-and-grooved into the legs and butt-joined to the underside of the stretchers, the sides with two similarly shaped beaded-edged aprons, the one on the reverse undecorated, the doors with four rectangular baitong hinges and central plates with lock receptacles and shaped door pulls; 112 by 77.2 by 42.1 cm, 44 by 30 3/8  by 16 1/2  in.

Notes: This well-proportioned small square corner cabinet, fashioned from choice timber, is originally made in huanghuali wood throughout. The apron below is curvilinear-shaped and carved with scrolling tendrils, breaking the monotony of the plain surface of square shape. Surviving examples of square-corner cabinets are usually of large size with small pieces being quite rare.

Square corner cabinets are characterised by their squareness, straight legs joining the top in pyramid joins resulting in neat square corners, hence their name. Together with the sloping stile wood-hinged cabinets, they comprise the two main types of Ming cabinets.

A larger piece in the collection of the Beijing Cultural Relics Bureau is illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Classic Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Hanshan Tang, London, 1986, p. 215. 

Sotheby's, Ming Furniture – Portable Treasures, Hong Kong, 05 Oct 2016