Ming :: Museum
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

A PAIR OF LATE MING OR EARLY QING DYNASTY LOWBACK ARMCHAIRS WITH CARVED THREE FRIENDS OF WINTER OPENWORK PANELS.

Height 40 in. (83 cm.), Width 23 in. (57.7 cm.), Depth 18 in. (46 cm.) Circa 17th Century.

Sarah Handler writes in Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture, page 124-126 : “Although the essential form of the lowback armchair is light and delicate, it may have elaborately carved openwork panels such as on these chairs decorated with the Three Friends of Winter (pine, bamboo, and plum). The pine and bamboo are always green throughout the harsh winter and the plum tree is the first to flower in early spring. Thus, the grouping of the three plants together represent the ability to survive adversity, particularly the ability of a scholar-official to maintain his integrity during times of potential turmoil.”

For a more comprehensive and detailed discussion of our example, please see Nancy Berliner’s Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Plate No. 12, 1996, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (where these chairs are currently on display); and Sarah Handler’s Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture, Plate 6.10, 2001, University of California Press.

Formerly in the holdings of Ming Furniture Ltd. these exquisite chairs are now in the collection of Edward C. Johnson 3rd. and can be viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

ENLARGE