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Lot 115. A huanghuali three shelf bookcase, jiage, Mid Qing Dynasty; 188cm (74in) high, 79.5cm (31 1/4in) wide, 41cm (16in) deep. Sold for £63,300 (Estimate £40,000-£60,000). © Bonhams 2001-2022

Of rectangular form and standard mitre, mortise and tenon construction, the round slender corner posts framing the softwood top panel and three shelves, one of which surmounts a pair of drawers, and secured around the shelves by a three-sided openwork railing comprising of kuilong patterns, the corner posts extending to form the feet, joined by plain apron and spandrels.

NoteThe present lot is notable for the added decorative touch of the intricately-reticulated three-sided kuilong galleries, elegant proportions and extravagant use of high-quality huanghuali wood.

Open-shelf stands (jiage) are one of the four types of cabinets with shelves created by Chinese furniture makers, along with round-corner cabinets yuanjiaogui, cabinets with open shelves lianggegui and square-corner cabinets fangjiaogui. See Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Hong Kong, 1990, vol.1, pp.82 and 85.

Bookcases shuge are open-shelf stands with three-sided railing to hold the books in place and to prevent them from falling, see Zhongguo gudian jiaju shoucang yu jianshang quanshu, vol.1, Tianjin, 2005, p.179. Bookcases were also a symbol of culture and education as an important feature in any scholar's studio. Open-shelving fulfilled two roles, as it allowed scholars to create elegant displays of scholar's objects and also functioned for storage of albums and books.

Compare with a huanghuali and wumu four-shelf bookcase in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, illustrated by R.D.Jacobsen and N.Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, pp.142-43, no.49. See also another huanghuali bookcase, Ming dynasty, illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese furniture, Beijing, 2007, p.142, D6, where the galleries are elaborately carved with cruciform-latticework.

See a related huanghuali three-shelf bookcase with three-sided openwork galleries of repeated quadrilobed and lotus motifs and key-fret galleries on separate shelves, 17th century, which was sold at Christie's New York, 17 September 2015, lot 2028. Compare also with a huanghuali three-shelf bookcase with three-sided openwork railing, 18th/19th century, which was sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 September 2020, lot 731.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 3 November 2022, London, New Bond Street