Lot 290. A 'huanghuali' continuous yokeback armchair, nanguanmaoyi, Ming dynasty, 17th century. Height 48 in., 121.9 cm; Width 23 3/4 in., 60.3 cm; Depth 18 in., 45.7 cm. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. Sold Price: 200,000 USD. © Sotheby's.
with an elegantly arched crestrail flattened in the center and curving down to join the slightly backward sloping rear posts continuing through the frame to form the back legs, and a well-figured wide rectangular S-shaped splat tenoned to the underside of the yoke and into the back rail of the seat frame, the serpentine arms pipe-jointed to shaped front posts, the rectangular seat frame, with molded edge, enclosing a soft-mat seat supported underneath by a pair of bowed stretchers, the legs joined by plain spandreled aprons and ascending height stretchers.
Provenance: M.D. Flacks, London.
Note: The restrained lines and minimal decoration serve to heighten the statuesque proportions and rich luster of the wood. The timber chosen for its lively whorl patterns, showing huanghuali wood at its best. The continuous yokeback armchair is one of the most classic of the scholarly Ming forms; a similar armchair with shaped aprons is illustrated in Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, pl. 9. In discussing the form, the authors conjecture that the inspiration for the continuous top and arm rails might be found in bent bamboo construction popular in the Song and Ming dynasties and cite an illustration of the Wanli period Kunqu opera The Tale of the Jade Hairpin showing a pair of speckled bamboo tall back chairs with continuous crestrails. In addition, pottery examples of this form were found in the tomb of Pan Yunzheng dated to 1589, op.cit., p. 52. A pair with inlaid decoration is illustrated in Nancy Berliner, Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th Centuries, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1996, p. 111. For another similar chair, see Nicholas Grindley, Pure Form: Classical Chinese Furniture Vok Collection, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln, Munich, 2004, pl. 10.
A pair of similar form, from the Richard Fabian Collection, was sold in these rooms, 15th March 2016, lot 7; another from the collection of Dr. S.Y. Yip was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th October 2015, lot 111; and a related pair with different aprons sold in these rooms, 15th March 2017, lot 581.