Another style of furnishing that’s often associated with the name of Chippendale is the so-called “Chinese Chippendale” or Chinoiserie, which remained immensely popular, especially for bedrooms, despite the rise of Neoclassicism. Japanning, or painted decoration sometimes imitating lacquer, became the last word in chic.
While he based his work upon the general Queen Anne and Georgian characteristics of sober design and thoroughly fine construction, retaining many of the early 18th-century details, Chippendale introduced many other forms. Though collectors identify his name with the extensive variety of chair designs—from geometrical to Chinese, lattice, or sumptuously carved and interlaced forms, his workshop’s output also included desks, mirror frames, hanging bookshelves, settees, china cabinets and bookcases–featuring fretted cornices and latticework glazed doors–and tables with delicately fretted galleries and distinctive cluster-column legs of Gothic inspiration.
The Chinese term huanghuali literally means “yellow flowering pear” wood. It is a member of the rosewood family and is botanically classified as Dalbergia odorifera. In premodern times the wood was know as huali or hualu. The modifier huang (yellowish-brown) was added in the early twentieth century to describe old huali wood whose surfaces had mellowed to a yellowish tone due to long exposure to light. The sweet fragrance of huali distinguishes it from the similar appearing but pungent-odored hongmu.
These tiny Chinese agate carvings jointly estimated at just £200-300 stole the show at a Salisbury saleroom when they sold for 500 times the top guide.
Consigned for sale by a UK dealer, the 2in (5cm) pieces, one of a boy beating a drum, the other with a cat, had been catalogued as ’19th/20th century’.
Several phones and a bidder battled it out until it eventually sold for £150,000 to the latter, reported to be an anonymous buyer from China.
Together with the scarcity for agate carvings of boys and the tenacity of Asian buyers, many of whom were in attendance for the two-day series in Salisbury which included the Luís Esteves Fernandes collection of Asian art, the vast price has led the auction house to believe the pieces are far earlier than they had thought; probably 18th century.