11450 AN EXCEPTIONAL BLACK LACQUER, POLYCHROME AND TWO COLOR GILT CABINET ON ORIGINAL STAND Chinese for the European Market. Early 19th century. Measurements: Height: 72 3/4″ (185 cm) Width: 39 1/4″ (99.5 cm) Depth: 21 3/4″ (55 cm).
Of black lacquer with polychrome and gilded detailing. In two parts. The upper section surmounted by an ogee cornice above two single panel doors each with three shaped raised panels decorated with polychrome chinoiserie scenes with Chinese figures and architecture. The background to the central field and borders rendered in an exquisitely detailed two color tendril and leaf motifs. The two doors open to reveal a fitted interior with twin arcaded upper section resting on a bank of two long and two short drawers decorated with vignettes similar to those on the exterior. The turned boxwood knobs that center each drawer are replaced. The reverse of the doors with gilded bamboo designs on a black ground. The sides similarly decorated as the front and set with brass lifting handles. The base with indented frieze resting on four tapering curved legs all decorated with two color gilded leaf motifs. Each leg terminating in a well carved leonine foot. Repairs to lacquer mainly along structural separation lines. Old wear and restorations in line with age and use.
The English revival in chinoiserie taste at the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century renewed the interest in lacquered furniture from China, particularly black lacquer enhanced with shimmering gold powder and gold leaf decoration. “The subtle and various tones of gold employed in fine gradations,”1 combined with polychrome painted reserves, makes this cabinet on stand a remarkable example of a large-scale model made for export to the European market. It aligns with the Far Eastern furnishings assembled by the Prince of Wales at “that most extraordinary of chinoiserie palaces, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton,”2 such as a large Chinese black and gold lacquer Bonheur-du-jour in the King’s apartments bedroom. It is also of note that the present cabinet is very closely related to a pair in the collection of Dr. Yip Shing Yiu, exhibited by Hong Kong Maritime Museum in 2017 (figure 1).
1. Hart, Ernest. Lectures on Japanese Art Work: Delivered Before the Society, May 4, 11, and 18, 1886. London: Printed by W. Trouce, 1887. 14.
2. Banham, Joanna. “Chinoiserie.” Encyclopedia of Interior Design. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997. 268.