Red Lacquer Decorative Sideboard
Shanxi, circa 1900
This striking sideboard, in a deep red lacquer and with dark, single tone paintings on the doors, would add a rich, luxurious feel to any setting. It was produced in Shanxi province, central China and when first applied its decorative paintings of flowers would have been much brighter against the red base. Gold leaf was often used on red lacquer furniture to pick out details, but would wear away over time to leave only the dark base colour below. Here the paintings have aged to show a darker, monochrome design that gives a more subtle feel to the cabinet. Shapes and outlines of birds, butterflies and various flowers can be seen, used to symbolise good fortune, long life or happiness.
Originally only the two central doors would have been in place, giving access to the full width inside. The two outer doors have been added more recently, created by cutting what were once fixed panels. The feet and bottom of the sideboard's apron have worn down to the wood, but a new varnish has deepened the colour to blend beautifully with the surrounding red lacquer, matching the colour of the sideboard's top surface. There is a full width shelf inside and the space below this extends down behind the cabinet's bottom front panel, providing plenty of useful, practical storage space.
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