Lot 1667. A rare huanghuali and huamu round-corner tapered cabinet, yuanjiaogui, 17th century;70 in. (177.8 cm.) high, 36 ¼ in. (92 cm.) wide, 19 ½ in.(49.5 cm.) deep. Estimate USD 200,000 - USD 300,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019
The beautifully proportioned cabinet is constructed with a rounded, protruding, rectangular, molded top supported on elegantly splayed legs of rounded square section. The doors are constructed from two large panels of attractively grained huanghuali on either side of a narrow huanghuali panel finely carved in openwork with a double-ruyi-form cartouche and further inset with huamu burl. The doors fit flush around the removable center stile and open to reveal the shelved interior, all above plain aprons and spandrels on the front and sides.
Provenance: Ambassador Milton Freeman, Carmel, California.
Sotheby’s New York, 23 April 1987, lot 515.
Nicholas Grindley, London, 1987.
Exhibited: Pasadena, California, Pacific Asia Museum, 1980.
Note: The combination of huanghuali and huamu burl was popular in classical Chinese furniture construction, forming a pleasing aesthetic, with the lighter huanghuali providing an attractive contrast to the darker, swirled grain of the burl. An especially elegant example of a huamu burl-inset huanghuali round-corner cabinet, formerly in the Arch. Ignazio Vok Collection, illustrated by Nicholas Grindley et al., Pure Form: Classical Chinese Furniture: Vok Collection, Padua, 2004, pl. 1, was sold at Christie’s New York, 17-18 September 2015, lot 2032.
The present round-corner cabinet is a superb example of its type in both proportion and form. It is made even rarer by the huamu burl-inset panels bisecting the floating huanghuali panels. A rare pair of huanghuali, huamu,nanmu, and boxwood cabinets, illustrated by Marcus Flacks, Classical Chinese Furniture: a very personal point of view, London, 2011, pp. 166-67, exhibits similar door composition—huanghuali door frames enclose two panels of attractively grained huamu set on either side of a narrow huanghuali panel carved with a stylized floral motif.
Cabinets constructed with paneled doors are a design feature more commonly found on carved lacquer and painted lacquer prototypes. A gilt-decorated black lacquer cabinet with paneled doors, decorated with pairs of writhing dragons on the larger panels and a dragon chasing a flaming pearl on the narrow panel, dated to the Wanli Period, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum – 53 – Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1), Hong Kong, 2002, p. 208-9, pl. 177. Another similarly constructed red lacquer cabinet, carved with dragons chasing flaming pearls on a yellow ground, currently in the Oesterreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, is illustrated in Michel Beurdeley, Chinese Furniture, New York, 1979, p. 102-103, pls. 139-141.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, New York, 22 March 2019