Large Painted Black Lacquer Sideboard
Shanxi, circa 1850
This large, impressive sideboard still has its original black lacquer finish, paintings and hardware and it is quite rare to find such a beautiful item in its original condition. It is made from elm, produced around the middle of the nineteenth century in Shanxi province. The extravagent style, with open carved spandrels tapering down to the feet in a floral pattern and wonderful paintings of flower vases and other prized possessions, is quite typical of Shanxi furniture and suggests that the cabinet would have belonged to a wealthy, high ranking member of society.
The old black lacquer finish has worn in parts particularly around the bottom apron and feet and on the top surface, but is mostly still in place. Over this base are the paintings - once brightly coloured in reds and greens but now in subtle, faded tones. The display of expensive vases, bronzes, books and other personal effects shown in the paintings are referred to in Chinese as 'bogu' and were meant to show the importance and status of the owner.
When the sideboard was made the two outer doors would have been fixed panels, with only the central doors giving access to the inside. The panels have been converted into doors more recently for practicality, with a simple ring handle fitted. The six shallow drawers above are original and still have their old handles. With a full width shelf inside, this would make a very striking sideboard in a dining room or living room, with plenty of storage space inside.
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