We are pleased to present an exhibition on fine furniture in the literati taste, exemplifying the discreet and intelligent connoisseurship of the Chinese literati. The literates played an important role in China's cultural development, which reached its finest form in the Late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. Apart from a knowledge of literature, the educated class pursued the four arts - calligraphy, painting, music, and chess, and appreciated furniture and artifacts that nourished their mind and spirit while expressing their refinement and erudition. The decor in a literati household reflected the taste and living habits of the dwellers. Therefore the choices of furniture commissioned and purchased by the literati possesses the highest standards in style, simplicity, balance, proportion, quality and workmanship, while paying attention to form and function with regard to aesthetics and practicality.
Featuring in our exhibition are fine Chinese furniture pieces from the 18th and 19th century, which we feel clearly demonstrate the criteria necessary to be included in a literati home. The group includes side tables and stands, on which to put artifacts, scholars' objects, incense burners, a potted bonsai or a vase of orchids and seasonal flowers. Amongst the key item for a study would be a painting table, used for setting out requisite writing implements, and practicing calligraphy and painting - done while standing up - and some fine classic recessed leg forms are on show. Chairs, in the form of official hat crest rail or horseshoe back were particularly popular for offering good support to the back and neck and several very fine examples will be displayed. Day beds with or without rails, used for playing a game of chess with a scholar friend or relaxing and napping to refresh the mind, along with small kang tables, placed on the day bed, for holding books, tea or wine set and small artifacts are also included in the collection. A striking group of cabinets, round and square cornered, for storing books, classic texts, scrolls of calligraphy, ink rubbings and paintings, artifacts in silk padded boxes and household valuables, as well as book cabinets with tiered open shelves or an open top shelf, for stacking horizontally paper-bound volumes of books, in both fine woods and lacquered finishes will also be presented alongside some meditations stools, which provided seating while meditating for inspirations and enlightenment, along many more other fine pieces.
Please visit our Gallery and Annex showrooms to appreciate the furniture connoisseurship in the taste of the Chinese literati, and see how such timeless scholarly pieces still work today in stylish interiors.