Unrecognized lot at London spring sales, an excellent huanghuali display cabinet

As said before, only one or two lots are worth noting at Christie’s London “Fine Chinese Ceramics and Art” sale. We have reviewed the pair of famille rose “butterfly” vases, this time we introduce the lot which is left unrecognized, lot 137, a huanghuali display cabinet, aka shu gui in Chinese.

This shu gui was made between late Ming dynasty to early Qing dynasty, and comes from a European private collection. It has a large size and is finely constructed, one would easily regard it as an excellent piece among huanghuali furniture. Yet, this shu gui is arranged as the last lot at the sale, with only two photos and short description in the catalog.

The Christie's shu gui

In 2011, a huanghuali shu gui of the same type went under the hammer at China Guardian. Its shape and size are the same as Christie’s one, and made in the same period. The China Guardian shu gui was sold for RMB 15.5m, against its pre-auction estimate of RMB 120,000 – 240,000. The estimate of the Christie’s shu gui is £80,000-120,000.

The China Guardian shu gui

We predict that the final price of the Christie’s shu gui will exceed the final price of the China Guardian one, and there are two reasons. First, Chinese classical furniture, especially furniture of Ming and Qing Dynasties, is pursued and admired by the high-income pursuers these years. Huanghuali furniture did very well at spring sales this year, including the “Virata Collection” sale at Christie’s New York, and the “Dr S.Y. Yip Collection” sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The China Guardian shu gui was sold 6 years ago, the price must have raised these years.

Second, the price of huanghuali itself raised sharply in recent years. Let’s say we want to make a new shu gui, which looks the same as the current lot, it would cost at least RMB 20m – 30m. If one could buy a same shu gui of Ming dynasty or Qing dynasty at the same price, why would one want to get a new one.


Auction House: Christie's London
Saleroom: King Street
Sale: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Art
Lot No.: 137
Size: 198 x 98 x 61cm
Provenance: The property of a Lady
Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000