This Chinese, nineteenth-century Qing Dynasty red lacquer compound cabinet and hat chest (known in Chinese alternately as sijian gui [four-part wardrobe] and dingxiang ligui [top cabinets and upright wardrobes]) is one of pair (see HC.F.1931.023.[CF]). Decorated in polychromy, gilding, and shallow engraving, the doors have representations of boys playing in fenced gardens bordering lotus ponds linked by paths and bridges and in the near vicinity of pavilions. Below the doors are panels representing Buddhistic lions cavorting in rocky river landscapes. Surrounding the door and lower panels are frames decorated with oval fields of dragons, the ovals set on a ground of star-shape pattern. The tops and sides have round, contoured, and square fields surrounded by a repeat lattice pattern and with each field decorated with flowers, rockwork, birds, and insects. The doors are secured with circular, engraved brass lock plates and external hinges.
On the back of one of the cabinets is Chinese calligraphy that reads in translation: “Made during the reign of Wan Li of the Great Ming Dynasty,” which would seem to date the cabinets to ca. 1573-1619. However, the design of these cabinets and the style of the decoration are consistent with many known cabinets from the later Qing Dynasty of the nineteenth century. For example, a very similar pair of cabinets, acquired in Beijing in 1921 and attributed to the Qing Dynasty, was sold by Sotheby’s London, May 12, 2010, sale L10210, lot 116.
Purchased from Charles van Ufford (also known as Charles d'Ufford), Buenos Aires, by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 2/9/1931.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 2/9/1931-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.