Lot 123. A huanghuali six-post canopy bed, Late Ming dynasty; 205.5 by 214 by 126 cm., 80 7/8 by 84 1/4 by 49 5/8 in. Estimate 9,000,000 — 15,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 13,880,000 HKD (1,595,588 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.
the seat frame of mitre, mortise and tenon construction with the flat edge of the frame moulding downward and inward from about one-third way and ending in a beaded edge, the deep, curvilinear, beaded-edged apron ending with a C-scroll and mitred, mortised and tennoned into and half-lapped onto the legs, the legs carved with a C-scroll echoing that of the apron and double-tennoned to the underside of the mitred frame of the bed and capped at the feet with pads, the aprons further secured to the bed frame by wedge-shaped pegs, two on the long side and one on the short side, the seat of the bed composed of a removable mitred frame with a soft cane surface and palm-fibre rope underwebbing, supported by four curved transverse braces, two additional braces tennoned into the short sides of the frame and the transverse braces at the ends for further support, the removable bed seat resting on the bed frame, the frame with five curved transverse braces tenonned into the long sides of the frame, four structural uprights mortised and tennoned to the four corners of the bed frame and supporting the canopy, a mitred frame with two transverse braces on the long sides and a longitudinal one on the short sides, all further secured by woodpins, the underside of the canopy decorated with mitred, mortised and tennoned frames with beaded-edged panels with pierced stylised lingzhi motifs, seven panels on the long sides and four on the short sides, interrupted with mitred uprights, the frameworks double-tennoned into the uprights and the canopy, the one in front further supported by two posts tennoned to the seat frame of the bed, the seat surmounted by uprights mortised to openwork railings decorated with begonia shapes and crosses created by double-mitred members mortised and tennoned together, one long one in the back, two on the sides, and two square ones in front, the members above the bed-seat frame finished with butterfly corners.
Exhibited: Grace Wu Bruce, Dreams of Chu Tan Chamber and the Romance with Huanghuali Wood: The Dr. S. Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese Furniture, Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1991, cat. no. 51, pp. 129-131.
The Chinese Collections, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 1997-99.
Grace Wu Bruce presents Ming Furniture from the Collection of Dr. S. Y. Yip, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1999.
Grace Wu Bruce, Grace Wu Bruce presents a choice selection of Ming Furniture from the Dr. S. Y. Yip collections, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 28-29.
Literature: Yip Shing Yiu, 'Collecting Ming Furniture of Huang Hua-Li Wood', Arts of Asia, May-June 1991, p. 124, fig. 16.
Grace Wu Bruce, 'Examples of Classic Chinese Furniture: (II) Masterpieces of the Joiner's Art', Oriental Art, Summer 1991, pp. 94-96.
Note: "Canopy beds speak for themselves. Everyone has his/her own favourite motifs. A romance with the past in your dreams."
This is a magnificent canopy bed of exceptional beauty. Even without the silk hangings and beddings of its original state in a late Ming setting, it still exudes a sense of luxury and sumptuousness.
The design is extremely refined. The begonia shapes and crosses on the railings are contrasted by short members joined together, forming a beautiful pattern. Below the canopy, the hanging eaves inset with panels of openwork stylised lingzhi fungus, and every element of the bed is edged with fine mouldings. The curvaceous design on the aprons of the bed and the carved C-scrolls where the apron meets the legs form a beautiful silhouette. Although often illustrated in woodblock prints of Ming books, this combination is seldom found in surviving examples of canopy beds.
The timber employed is of the highest quality–a rich orange-brown huanghuali wood, beautifully figured and very tight grained. See Grace Wu Bruce, Sublime and Divine Chinese Ming Furniture, Grace Wu Bruce, Hong Kong, 2014, pp. 64-71 for an example with railings of a similar design but with straight aprons and legs ending in hoof-feet.
Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015