Lot 308. A rare pair of nanmu and burlwood round-courner cabinets, 18th century; 55 ½ x 31 x 16 ½ in. (141 x 78.7 x 42 cm). Estimate GBP 20,000 - GBP 30,000. Price realised GBP 43,750. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018.
The doors have finely whorled burlwood (huamu) floating panels set within a nanmu frame and fitted flush around the removable center stile. The doors open to reveal a shelved interior and a pair of drawers. The elegantly splayed legs are of round section and are joined by plain aprons and spandrels.
Provenance: From an important private American collection of classical Chinese furniture, sold at Sotheby's New York, 19 March 2007, lot 320.
Note: The present pair of tapered stile cabinets are rare to find, especially with such densely figured burlwood panels. Large flat panels of burl are relatively rare since the complex knots and whorls in the burl would react at different rates to humidity, leaving most case furniture with cracked or buckled burl-sections or panels. But on these particular cabinets, the quality of the burl panels is unusually fine.The tapering or 'A-line' structure demonstrates the complex craftsmanship involved, using the outward splay of the posts to enable the wood-hinged doors to automatically swing closed if left opened. This also necessitated careful allowance at the panels of the doors since the door-panels are actually trapezoidal, not strictly rectangular, and in fact slightly wider at the bottoms than the tops.