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A VERY RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI BAMBOO-FORM CONTINUOUS HORSESHOE-BACK ARMCHAIRS, QUANYI
A VERY RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI BAMBOO-FORM CONTINUOUS HORSESHOE-BACK ARMCHAIRS, QUANYI
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This lot is offered without reserve.
A VERY RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI BAMBOO-FORM CONTINUOUS HORSESHOE-BACK ARMCHAIRS, QUANYI

CHINA, LATE MING-EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH-EARLY 18TH CENTURY

Details
A VERY RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI BAMBOO-FORM CONTINUOUS HORSESHOE-BACK ARMCHAIRS, QUANYI
CHINA, LATE MING-EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH-EARLY 18TH CENTURY
Each with wide sweeping crestrail above the S-shaped splat, supported on deeply curved standing stiles and terminating in the front legs, the hard mat seats set within the rectangular frame with rounded edge above simple shaped aprons carved in imitation of bamboo, the legs joined by stepped stretchers above plain shaped aprons on the front and sides
37 ¾ in. (95.8 cm.) high, 23 ¼ in. (59 cm.) wide, 19 in. (48.3 cm.) deep
Provenance
With Barry Sainsbury, Grosvernor House Antique Fair (as a set of four).
Literature
A. Juliano, “Robert H. Ellsworth Treasures the East,” Architectural Digest, October 1985, p. 102.
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This lot is offered without reserve.

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Lot Essay

The design of these very rare chairs was inspired by bamboo furniture. The elegantly shaped aprons and rounded members were carved to simulate the bamboo furniture construction technique of bending long stalks of bamboo using steam or heat. The abundance of bamboo made it popular among the lower classes, as a cost-effective and more easily portable alternative to the more luxurious huanghuali furniture. This rare pair would have been commissioned by a wealthy family, attracted to the humble origins of bamboo furniture, but seeking the luxury and status associated with precious huanghuali.

While examples of horseshoe-back armchairs in huanghuali are readily known, one of the rarest variations of the form is the continuous rail horseshoe-back armchair. The delicate, simple lines give the form a refined elegance, while at the same time making it somewhat fragile. This may be the reason why there are so few known extant examples. A similar chair, dated to the early seventeenth century, but with cusped and beaded aprons and spandrels, is in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and illustrated by R. D. Jacobsen and N. Grindley in Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Museum of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, pp. 62-3.

Refer to Ronald W. Longsdorf, "Chinese Bamboo Furniture, Its Influence on Hardwood Furniture Design", Orientations, January 1994, pp.76-83, where the author discusses the features of bamboo furniture carried over to hardwood forms, such as rounded members, 'wrap-around' stretchers, 'stacked' stretchers and the use of closely placed vertical struts.

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