• Fine Chinese Ceramics and Work auction at Christies

    Sale 7762

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    3 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 127

    A RARE HONGMU 'MOON GAZING' CHAIR

    19TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A RARE HONGMU 'MOON GAZING' CHAIR
    19TH CENTURY
    The square panelled seat joined to the two-tiered out-scrolled arms by tapering S-scroll slats, the tilted back-rest below a rotating cylindrical head-rest carved with peaches to the sides, with a sliding foot-rest carved and pierced with an apron of ruyi and hanging tassels, some joints with metal mounts
    33¼ in. (84.4 cm.) high, 27¼ in. (69.2 cm.) wide, 44 in. (101.8 cm.) deep


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    This reclining chair of the type sometimes referred to as 'moon-gazing' chairs has been designed to offer informal comfort to its occupant. Chairs of this sort, which appear to have become fashionable in the mid-Qing period, are characterised by their tilted back-rests and extended arm-rests. Some examples, such as the current chair provide the added luxury of a cylindrical head-rest and a pull-out leg-rest. A chair of similar shape, but with slatted back, seat and leg-rest, from the collection of Grace Wu Bruce is illustrated by Tian Jiaqing in Classic Chinese Furniture of the Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong 1996, p. 101, no. 33. This example has two-tiered arms like the current example. Another reclining chair from the Jiang Nianci collection is illustrated in the same volume (ibid., p. 102, no. 34). This latter chair is also slatted, but has no foot-rest and only one set of extended arm-rests. Two reclining chairs with inlaid decoration, but with only one set of arm-rests, no leg-rest, and only a vestigial neck rest are in collection of the National Museum of History, Taipei (illustrated in The Art of Ch'ing Dynasty Furniture, Taipei, 1985, p. 85). The authors of the museum publication note that such chairs follow the natural shape of the reclined body and were generally used for chatting with friends.
    A chair with elongated arms, a leg-rest and a separate angled back-rest from the scroll painting The Eight Drunken Immortals by Chou Ying (c. AD 1494-1552) is illustrated by Wang Shixiang in Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture - Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Vol. I, Text, Hong Kong, 1990, p. 42, fig. 2.12. In this illustration an inebriated immortal reclines in the chair holding a cup of wine. Folding versions of these reclining chairs were also made, and an example from the Museum of Classical Chinese furniture is illustrated by Wang Shixiang and Curtis Evarts in Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Chinese Art Foundation, 1995, pp. 76-77, no. 36. The authors note an illustration of a similar chair in the late Ming dynasty encyclopaedia Sancai tuhui, juan, 12, p. 24, where it is called a zuiwenyi or 'drunken lord's chair'. Wang and Evarts also reproduce a detail from the album leaf Quietly Dreaming in the Shade of a Wutong Tree, by Tang Yin (AD 1470-1523) in which a gentleman relaxes in such a folding chair. A similar folding chair is depicted by the artist Chou Ying in his painting Wuzhucaotang tu, The Thatched Hall of Parasol and Bamboo.

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