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.
Note: The 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.