Lot 134. A set of four huanghuali rectangular stools, Late Ming dynasty; 51.5 by 45.6 by 40.1 cm., 20 1/4 by 17 7/8 by 15 3/4 in. Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,800,000 HKD. Lot Sold 6,680,000 HKD (767,906 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Note: "Four stools as a set are really rare, lucky be the new owner!"
Stools are seats without backs. Surviving examples of stools made in the late Ming and early Qing period come in a variety of styles, mostly with great similarity to table designs of the same period. This set of stools, with a recessed waist, hump-back shaped stretcher and hoof feet is identical to that of a classic banzhuo table.
The ranking of seats in the Ming period was hierarchical with chairs being deemed more important seats reserved for the master of the house and senior guests. Formal occasions would also call for the usage of chairs while stools were used in more relaxed gatherings.
This classic design is typical of Ming period stools. Stools were made in sets and pairs but easily became separated over time so extant examples of huanghuali stools in a set of four are quite precious.
Standard in design, this set of four stools with excellent proportions, exemplifies the undecorated stream of Chinese hardwood furniture at its best. The lines are pure and elegant, the form simple and restrained. A similar piece is illustrated in Chen Zengbi, Zhongyang Gongyi Meishu Xueyuan Yuancang: Zhenpin Tulu [Central Academy of Arts and Crafts: Illustrations of collections], vol. 2: Mingshi Jiaju [Ming Furniture], Hong Kong, 1994, no. 5.
Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015