Lot 946. A very rare zitan 'Southern official's hat' armchair, nanguanmaoyi, late 17th-18th century. Estimate USD 200,000 - USD 300,000. Unsold. © Christie's Images Ltd 2017

The top rail of round section is supported on an S-shaped back splat and curved rear posts, which continue to form the rear legs. The curved arms are supported on tapering braces and front posts which continue through the seat to form the front legs. All are above a mat seat set within a rectangular frame above plain aprons fitted on the front and sides with a lattice-work pattern above straight stretchers. The legs are joined by plain stretchers at the sides and a foot rest at the front. 36 ½ in. (92.7 cm.) high, 23 ¼ in. (59 cm.) wide, 21 1/8 in. (53.5 cm.) deep.

ProvenanceMing Furniture Ltd., New York, November 1989.

Property of the Nancy and Ed Rosenthal Collection

LiteratureS. Handler, Ming Furniture In the Light of Chinese Architecture, Ten Speed Press, New York, 2005, p. 119. 
V. Bower, S. Handler and J. Burris, Brush Clay Wood: The Nancy and Ed Rosenthal Collection of Chinese Art, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, 2008, p. 49, fig. 20.

ExhibitedCincinnati, Taft Museum of Art, Brush Clay Wood: The Nancy and Ed Rosenthal Collection of Chinese Art, 7 November 2008 - 11 January 2009.

NoteWhile there are many extant examples of huanghuali ‘Southern Official’s Hat’ armchairs, there appear to be relatively few published examples in zitan. See, the zitan armchair of taller proportions constructed from rounded members but with a more dramatic curve to the crestrail, and carved with two dedicatory inscriptions published by M. Beurdeley in Chinese Furniture, New York, 1979, p. 75, pl. 93. Another zitan ‘Southern Official’s Hat’ armchair currently in the Liangyi Collection and illustrated in C. Evarts, Liang Yi collection: Zitan, Hong Kong, 2007, p. 48, is constructed with flattened rounded members and has slightly taller proportions.

The chair design was most likely inspired by bamboo prototypes, most notably seen in the unususal fretwork below the seat. A nanmu six-post canopy bed illustrated by Zhang Jinhua in The Classical Chinese Furniture of Weiyang: Representative Examples, vol. 2,  London, 2016, pp. 258-9, is constructed with similar design in the openwork panels at the top of the bed and on the back and side railings.  See, also, a bamboo-inspired huanghuali side table in the Qing Court Collection illustrated in The Complete Collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty Furniture in the Palace Museum: Table, vol. 7Beijing, 2015, p. 136-7, pl. 57, which exhibits a similar conception of the stretchers under the table commonly seen on bamboo examples.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 14 - 15 September 2017, New York