Huanghuali Document Box-Xiang
Huanghuali Document Box-Xiang. China, 17th-18th century. The rectangular box is fitted in brass with a two-part lock plate and cloud-form hasp on the front, bail handles at the sides and ruyi-form corner mounts on the cover. The huanghuali of a warm reddish-chestnut tone with an attractive grain and distinct ‘ghost eyes’.
Provenance: Dutch private collection.
Condition: Good condition with some wear, traces of use, scratches and nicks to the underside, small losses, the wood with gaps and natural age cracks, a short section of the inner base possibly replaced some time ago.
Weight: 1,857 g
Dimensions: Size 14 x 37 x 22 cm
Expert’s note: This beautifully proportioned box, with its finely figured wood and age-patinated surface, is an exemplary work of a classic early Qing dynasty design.
Auction result comparison: Compare with a closely related document box at Christie’s New York in The Flacks Family Collection: A Very Personal Selection on 16 September 2016, lot 1126, sold for USD 18,750.
尺寸：14 x 37 x 22 厘米
拍賣結果比較：一件相近箱子見紐約佳士得The Flacks Family Collection: A Very Personal Selection 拍場2016年9月 16 日 lot 1126, 售價USD 18,750.
The forms of Chinese furniture evolved along three distinct lineages which dates back to 1000 BC, based on frame and panel, yoke and rack (based on post and rail seen in architecture) and bamboo construction techniques. Chinese home furniture evolved independently of Western furniture into many similar forms including chairs, tables, stools, cupboards, cabinets, beds and sofas. Until about the 10th century CE the Chinese sat on mats or low platforms using low tables, in typical Asian style, but then gradually moved to using high tables with chairs.
Chinese furniture is mostly in plain polished wood, but from at least the Song dynasty the most luxurious pieces often used lacquer to cover the whole or parts of the visible areas. All the various sub-techniques of Chinese lacquerware can be found on furniture, and become increasingly affordable down the social scale, and so widely used, from about the Ming dynasty onwards. Carved lacquer furniture was at first only affordable by the imperial family or the extremely rich, but by the 19th century was merely very expensive, and mostly found in smaller pieces or as decorated areas on larger ones. It was especially popular on screens, which were common in China. Lacquer inlaid with mother of pearl was especially a technique used on furniture.
Chinese furniture is usually light where possible, anticipating Europe by several centuries in this respect. Practical fittings in metal such as hinges, lock plates, drawer handles and protective plates at edges or feet are used, and often given considerable emphasis, but compared to classic fine European furniture purely decorative metal mounts were rare. From the Qing dynasty furniture made for export, mostly to Europe, became a distinct style, generally made in rather different shapes to suit the destination markets and highly decorated in lacquer and other techniques.
Chinese furniture for sitting or lying on was very often used with cushions, but textiles and upholstery are not, until very late historical periods, incorporated into the piece itself in the Western manner. Openwork in carved wood or other techniques is very typical for practical purposes such as chair-backs, and also for decoration. The Ming period is regarded as the “golden age” of Chinese furniture, though very few examples of earlier pieces survive. Ming styles have largely set the style for furniture in traditional Chinese style in subsequent periods, though as in other areas of Chinese art, the 18th and 19th centuries saw increasing prosperity used for sometimes excessively elaborated pieces, as wider groups in society were able to imitate court styles