Lot 84. A rare huanghuali horseshoe back armchair, Quanyi, 16th-17th century; 94.5cm (37 1/4in) high x 60cm (23 5/8in) wide x 55cm (21 5/8in) deep. Estimate £20,000 - 30,000. Sold for £ 52,500 (€ 60,103) inc. premium. © Bonhams 2001-2018
The elegantly curving crestrail set on two straight back posts and S-shaped front and side posts, a shaped spandrel beneath each out-scrolled and rounded terminal, with a curved rectangular back splat, the posts of circular section continuing through the mat seat frame forming the legs of square section secured by hump-back aprons and four stretchers, the wood of a warm honey-brown tone.
Provenance: a distinguished English private collection, according to the owner acquired in Asia in 1992
The present lot forms part of a distinguished collection of classical Chinese furniture devotedly collected and lived with over the past three decades. The owner had the privilege of learning from the pre-eminent scholar of classical Chinese furniture, Wang Shixiang, as well as from the well-known dealer in classical Chinese furniture, Grace Wu Bruce.
Unusually, this plain horseshoe-back armchair with fluid curves and simple lines has humpback-shaped stretchers as well as supports which change from round to square section, as they continue through the seat frame to become the back legs. These rare features distinguish it from other types of huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs, such as the one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated by C.Clunas, Chinese Furniture, London, 1988, p.25.
Compare a related pair of huanghuali chairs, late 16th/ early 17th century, with humpback-shaped stretchers and stiles that change from circular to square section, illustrated by Grace Wu Bruce, Dreams of Chu Tan Chamber and Romance with Huanghuali Wood: The Dr S.Y. Yip Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1991, p.28, no.4. The subtle form using round members on the top section transforming to square members on the lower section though rare found on chairs, symbolising the cosmology of the round heavenly realm and the square earthly domain (tianyuan difang); see this feature on a pair of huanghuali low-back 'Southern Official's' armchairs, 17th century, illustrated in Splendor of Style: Classical Furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1999, p.85.
A related pair of huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs, late Ming dynasty, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 April 2016, lot 117.
One of a pair of huanghuali large horseshoe armchairs, Late Ming dynasty, from the L B MacBain Collection; 102 by 61.6 by 47.6 cm, 40 1/8 by 24 1/4 by 18 3/4 in. Sold for 3,920,000 HKD at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 April 2016, lot 117. Photo Sotheby's.