• Important Chinese Ceramics and auction at Christies

    Sale 2731

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1938


    Price Realised  



    The elegantly rounded crestrail terminating in outswept handrests and supported by gracefully curved extensions of the front legs inset with shaped spandrels and set into the rectangular base stretchers, the front stretcher beneath a footrest mounted with a central huangtong plaque of three conjoined lozenges, supported on short cabriole legs flanked by shaped aprons, the elaborately carved splat with three registers centered by a stylised shou character above a flowering lotus issuing from rockwork, set between the upper panel carved with a ruyi-shaped medallion framing confronted dragons and the smaller lower panel carved with leafy scroll forming the cusped lower border, the front and back seat rails well carved with confronted chi dragons amid leafy tendrils
    41 1/2 x 25 x 27 in. (105.4 x 63.5 x 68.6 cm.)

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    Another fine example of a folding horseshoeback armchair is the chair formerly in the collections of Mr. Frederic Mueller and the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, illustrated by R.H. Ellsworth, Chinese Furniture, New York, 1971, p. 88, col. pl. 26, and sold at Christie's New York, 29 November 1990, lot 395. A related folding chair carved with the 'Three Friends of Winter' on the splat was sold at Sotheby's New York, 19 March 2007, lot 312. Wu Tung, 'From Imported 'Nomadic Seat' to Chinese Folding Armchair', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Spring 1993, p. 38, fig. 1, illustrates a pair of similar folding chairs in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which have splats carved with a landscape. This design is repeated on another folding chair in the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena. A folding chair in the Palace Museum, Beijing decorated on the splat with a simple ruyi design is illustrated in Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (II), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, 2002, p. 28, no. 14.

    Also included in this group are three brass-mounted folding armchairs featuring qilin on the splats. One with a carved pierced central splat depicting a qilin amidst scrolling clouds, was formerly in the collections of Mrs. Rafi Mottahedeh and John W. Gruber, sold at Christie's New York, 16 September 1998, lot 32. The second, formerly belonging to Wang Shixiang and now at the Shanghai Museum, is illustrated on the cover of Chinese Furniture: Selected Articles from Orientations 1984-1999, Hong Kong, 1999. The other was sold at Christie's New York, 21 March 2002, lot 24.

    Six known huanghuali round-back folding chairs are thought to originate from the same workshop, due to their similar proportions and distinctive silver-inlaid iron fittings. See S. Handler, 'The Folding Armchair, An Elegant Vagabond', Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture, Berkeley, 2001, ch. 5, pp. 60-71; and R.D. Jacobsen and N. Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, p. 56.

    Three other chairs in the group come from a set, and have a small dragon medallion carved on the splat. One of the three was formerly in the Chen Mengjia collection, Beijing, and illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Classic Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1986, p. 57. The second is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji; gongyi meishu bian; zhumu ya jiao qu, Beijing, 1988, vol. 11, p. 127. The third, sold by Sotheby's New York, 18 September 1996, lot 311, is now in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and illustrated by R.D. Jacobsen, op. cit., p. 57, no. 11.

    The remaining damascened horseshoeback armchair was sold at Christie's New York, 16 October 2001, lot 254.

    For a more general discussion on the role of the folding armchair within the context of Chinese furniture history, see L.H. Stowe, 'The Chair in China', JCCFS, Spring 1991, p. 60, fig. 24.


    Ellsworth, Robert Hatfield, Chinese Furniture: One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection, New York, 1996, p.67, no.13


    Asian Art Museum of San Franciso, Essence of Style, Chinese Furniture of the Late Ming and Early Qing Dyansties, 1998, Catalogue no. 6