Gilt Lacquer Compound Cabinet

c. 1900
$6,600 $8,800 USD
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W: 41.5" D: 21.5" H: 96.0"
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This striking gilt lacquer compound cabinet commands its surroundings with grand scale and lavish decoration. Seamlessly constructed of northern elm (yumu), the tall cabinet is actually comprised of two stacked storage compartments. The upper compartment was traditionally used for hats or out of season clothes while the lower cabinet stored bedding and everyday garments. Double doors secured with brass hardware open to a large interior fitted with multiple shelves and two shallow drawers. Below the lower compartment are four additional drawers for linens and small objects.

The expansive nature of compound cabinets provided the perfect blank canvas for painted scenes of beautiful landscapes. Here, the raised gilt decoration depicts the various aspects of life one might observe in the courtyards of a grand Qing-dynasty palace. On the upper compartment is a quiet scene of women and children promenading in the garden. As the eye drifts down across the lower cabinet, you see a gathering of scholar-officials conversing over wine, a crowd of soldiers drinking jovially, and a small group of men engaging in morning tai chi. The cabinet is finished with golden aprons carved with two fu lion dogs chasing an embroidered ball.

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