Chinese Cloisonné Enamel & Hardwood Throne & Footstool, ca. 1920

Value (2009) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I was looking for a large decorative bedroom chair to match my antique Chinese bed, and I saw this at a pre-auction sale and I couldn't leave without it. I started doing research on it and I found out that it's the right size and shape for a throne, but I didn't know if it was one.

APPRAISER:
And did you know where it was made?

GUEST:
Well, I'm hoping it's China.

APPRAISER:
Okay, and what did you pay for it?

GUEST:
Either $2,200 or $2,800. I don't remember for sure. I thought it might be Qing dynasty, but I don't know.

APPRAISER:
This basic throne shape, where you have a combination of cloisonné and wood, developed in the 17th century, early 18th century. That's where you really see this type for the first time. The feet are the ball and claw, the flaming pearl. That particular kind of motif, for the most part, you see used on furniture in the late 17th, early 18th century. And if you were to examine the foot, you'd see this is carved from one single block of wood. It's not laminated pieces of wood, which more often you find in the modern version. As you look at the center, this foliate carving on the back, that's also carved completely just like the apron. That type of decoration is associated with Western motifs that were introduced into China in the mid to late 18th century. The cloisonné has a range of colors, but this really kind of mustard yellow and this kind of a puce color, and this green, really one associates with things that were made in the 19th century.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Okay. And the decoration overall is of the Eight Immortals. And there's an island where the Eight Immortals live, and that's what this is depicting. Now, the other important aspect is the wood. Because imperial thrones were generally made of just a very few types of wood. And when you look at this, you see it's a variety of Asian hardwood, but it's not the type of hardwood that was used in the manufacture of imperial thrones. In China we would just call this huali, which is a generic kind of name. So all this adds up to mean that this was made not during the Qing dynasty but it was made a little bit later, I think around 1920.

GUEST:
1920, okay.

APPRAISER:
So, it's still a good throne probably owned by somebody who was a wealthy person. The footstool is associated with this, but it did not begin life together. It's a very different pattern. It's frankly not as good a quality as the throne.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
If you were to sell this at auction, I would expect that this throne and this stool together would make $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
If it were made for the imperial household, it would actually be worth in the $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 range.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Form
Chair
Material
Enamel, Wood

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