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    Sale 2268

    Fine Chinese Art from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections

    18 March 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 375

    A VERY RARE AND IMPRESSIVE LARGE HUANGHUALI AND HUAMU COMPOUND CABINET, SIJIANGUI

    17TH/18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A VERY RARE AND IMPRESSIVE LARGE HUANGHUALI AND HUAMU COMPOUND CABINET, SIJIANGUI
    17TH/18TH CENTURY
    Of massive rectangular form and beautiful graining, the frame composed of solid huanghuali, the hat chest with two huanghuali square-panel doors fitted flush and attractively inlaid with double-gourd-form nanmu burl panels, above the large cabinet with rectangular huanghuali panel doors similarly fitted and inlaid with large circular and square nanmu burl panels separated by smaller quatrefoil nanmu burl panels at the center, the doors opening to reveal the shelved interior and two drawers, the front with a horizontal panel above a plain apron and spandrels
    95½ in. (242.6 cm.) high, 48 1/8 in. (122.2 cm.) wide, 31 1/8 in. (79.1 cm.) deep


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    The present lot is a superb example of the highly successful combination of huanghuali and nanmu burl. This combination, popular in classical Chinese furniture construction, forms a pleasing aesthetic, with the lighter huanghuali providing an attractive contrast to the darker, swirled grain of the nanmu burl. Numerous examples in various forms where the combination of huanghuali and burl is used are documented. See C. Evarts, "From Ornate to Unadorned: A Study of a Group of Yokeback Chairs", Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Spring, 1993, pp. 27-9 and 32, for a group of armchairs with burl-inset splats. Also see two 16th-17th century huanghuali tables with nanmu top panels sold in these rooms, 19 March 2008, lot 372, and 18 September 2003, lot 34. For an interesting discussion on burlwood and its use in Chinese furniture, see C. Evarts, "The Nature and Characteristics of Wood", Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Spring 1992, pp. 38-40.

    An unusual feature of the present lot is the incorporation of the double-gourd form, which is associated with a number of different auspicious wishes. Because natural gourds have many seeds, they have been regarded as symbols of extensive progeny. The pronunciation of the Chinese word for gourd, hulu, varies in different parts of China, and in some areas it is close to fulu - fu being blessings, and lu being an official salary - hence it is associated with good fortune and wealth.

    Double-gourds are also one of the symbols of longevity. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that one of the Eight Daoist Immortals, Li Tieguai, is usually depicted carrying a double-gourd in which he carried medicines. In addition, gourds were believed to have the power to absorb all evil vapors, safe-guarding those who carried them.

    The mate to the current cabinet was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 1 June 1994, lot 563, purchased by Nicholas Grindley, London and is now in a private collection.

    Provenance

    Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., 18 December 1971, lot 243.