Painted Black Lacquer Scholars' Cabinet

c. 1800
$22,800 USD
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W: 50.5" D: 24.0" H: 81.75"
Northern Elmwood
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Constructed with four doors, this spectacular Qing-dynasty cabinet from the mid-19th century is lavishly painted with scenes of courtly life in a grand palace garden. Seamlessly constructed and darkly lacquered, the tall cabinet provides the perfect blank canvas for an artist’s painted embellishments.

The upper doors depict a gathering of scholar-officials and fine ladies in a traditional courtyard pavilion. The lower doors are painted with mythical wise men navigating the wilderness with their young attendants. Surrounding the lower doors are several boys leaping about and playing together, a version of the Hundred Boys motif, reflecting the cultural desire to carry on the familial name and bring honor and prosperity to one's family. Framing the cabinet is a border of bamboo and plum blossoms, both symbols of longevity, set against a cracked ice lattice pattern.

This square corner cabinet has a clean-lined form with straight sides and a simply carved apron. The upper doors open to reveal a large interior fitted with one shelf and three shallow drawers, while the lower doors open to a smaller compartment intended for cold-weather clothing and long-term storage. Beneath the painted decoration, the cabinet boasts a dark brown lacquer finish, now heavily crackled from two centuries of use.

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