Altfield is pleased to feature a group of fine bamboo furniture pieces currently in the Gallery. Chinese bamboo furniture was favoured by the literati throughout history, especially in the Ming Dynasty. Bamboo was regarded as one of the "three friends of winter" with pine & prunus, and is one of the "four gentlemen" with orchid, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. The scholars related their philosophy of moral integrity to the nature of bamboo. It is strong and upright, yet flexible and resilient as it would only bend and not break in strong wind.
Being abundant and inexpensive, bamboo was widely used in simple peasant's household furniture. However skilled artisan craftsmen used it to experiment with until it also became a very refined genre of furniture design. The refined bamboo furniture style became so loved even precious hardwood, was carved to simulate bamboo furniture.
In the Qing period both the Chinese and French royal courts were particularly enamoured of the style, as seen in the bamboo style hardwood furniture in the Qing imperial collection and actual bamboo furniture in the 18th century French court, which led to the development of a style of decoration known as Chinoiserie.
It is now hard to find old examples of the fine bamboo pieces that have survived from the 19th or early 20th century , but we are happy to feature some in our Prince's Building Gallery at the moment, and we invite you to visit us and appreciate their delightful decorative features.