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A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE LARGE HUANGHUALI SOUTHERN OFFICIAL'S HAT ARMCHAIR, NANGUANMAOYI
A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE LARGE HUANGHUALI SOUTHERN OFFICIAL'S HAT ARMCHAIR, NANGUANMAOYI
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Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more
A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE LARGE HUANGHUALI SOUTHERN OFFICIAL'S HAT ARMCHAIR, NANGUANMAOYI

LATE MING-EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY

Details
A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE LARGE HUANGHUALI SOUTHERN OFFICIAL'S HAT ARMCHAIR, NANGUANMAOYI
LATE MING-EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
Of grand proportions, the strongly curved crestrail is supported on curved rear posts and the s-shaped splat, above the soft mat seat set within the rectangular frame with grooved edge. The arm rails are supported on slender standing stiles and terminating in the front posts, all raised on legs of rounded-square section joined by humpback stretchers with vertical struts on the front and sides, above stepped stretchers and footrest with plain aprons.
48 ½ in. (123.2 cm.) high, 24 in. (61 cm.) wide, 18 ½ in. (47 cm.) deep
Provenance
M.D. Flacks, Ltd., New York, 2001.
Christie's New York, 21 March 2013, lot 923
The Heveningham Hall Collection
Literature
Marcus Flacks, Classical Chinese Furniture, Spring 2001, no. 2.
Marcus Flacks, Classical Chinese Furniture: A Very Personal Point of View, London, 2011, pp. 78-79.
Special Notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory, tortoiseshell and crocodile. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

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Marco Almeida (安偉達)
Marco Almeida (安偉達) Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

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Lot Essay

The southern official's hat armchair is one of the most popular forms in Chinese furniture construction. It differs from the official's hat armchair in that its crest rail continues into the back rails as opposed to extending beyond them. The style of the present example is therefore also known as a continuous yokeback armchair. One of the most interesting features of the present armchair is its size, which is several inches taller than the standard, and examples which exceed 47 inches (119.5 cm.) in height are extremely rare and particularly sought after, as explained by Marcus Flacks, Classical Chinese Furniture: A Very Personal Point of View, London, 2011, p. 78. Flacks continues, "some of these tall chairs fail to resolve successfully the issues of proportion and balance that this added height creates. The outcome can often seem awkward, bulky or top-heavy. This chair is so well thought out and executed that it truly highlights the incalculable difference that skilled detail and subtle ingenuity can make." The extraordinary height, in combination with the thick, sweeping rails and dramatic, strong lines, helps make the present armchair a truly superb and very rare example of its type.

For a comprehensive view of the evolution of the yokeback chair, see Sarah Handler, ‘A Yokeback Chair for Sitting Tall,’ Journal of the Chinese Classical Furniture Society, Spring 1993, pp. 4-23, the author writes, "The yokeback chair is the most vertical of Chinese Chairs. It forces the body to assume a posture of upright rectitude, and hence it is natural and inevitable that it carries with it a significance of honour, dignity, and power. In both the ancient and modern worlds, verticality - in tower, cathedral, and skyscraper - asserts soaring authority." The present continuous yokeback chair, with its extraordinary height and elegance of form, certainly would have lent the seated owner or guest of honor the sense of dignity and power that Handler suggests.

Several similar though smaller examples of southern official's hat armchairs are published. See an example of the same form illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, vol. II, 1990, Hong Kong, p. 47, no. A76. The present chair differs, however, in its lack of carving and ornamentation on the back splat and aprons which gives it an lends it even greater sense of elegance and strength. A smaller pair of this type with similar back splat, but with carved aprons is illustrated by Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley in Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, pp. 52-3, no. 9. Compare, also, the pair of armchairs of 17th century date, sold at Christie’s, Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2026. Although also much smaller in height, the chairs are similarly beautifully proportioned with plain back splats and gracefully curved rear posts.

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