Shanxi Antique Elm Bench
Shanxi, circa 1860
This wonderful bench is well over a hundred and fifty years old and is still in its original finish. It was common in Shanxi province, where the bench was made, for lacquer to be applied over a fabric underlay in order to bind and strengthen the finish. Here the lacquer and fabric on the top surface have mostly worn away over time to show the paler, smooth elm wood underneath. The wood would have once been entirely covered, but now there are only sections where the orginal, thick black lacquer is still in place. This gives the bench a real sense of age and a unique patina.
The style is fairly typical, with a waisted top over four legs that taper down to horse hoof feet and moulded stretchers incorporating shallow S curves at each side. The tenon ends are visible where the various frames, legs and stretchers are joined, showing the ingenious joinery of the Chinese carpenters. Perfect today for seating at a table or end of a bed, or as a side table.
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