In the past few decades, classical Chinese furniture from the 16th through 19th centuries has become a major focus of collectors and scholars in China and throughout the world. Crafted of fine hardwoods and softwoods, the furniture possesses a grace and simplicity that appeals as much to contemporary taste as it once did to Chinese emperors, scholars and merchants. In Classical Chinese Furniture from Weiyang, Zhang Jinhua, artist, scholar, restorer and dealer of antique Chinese furniture, uncovers a long-overlooked genre of material from the Weiyang region, made of the local, fine grained, but somewhat intractable zhazhen wood. Drawing on patient investigations over the course of several decades, Zhang boldly delineates the regional styles of Weiyang and of better known Suzhou, establishing clear lineages for the two. He accomplishes this by providing a broad introductory view of the literary, historical, aesthetic, social and economic context in which the furniture was created, and by charting specific differences in terms of details that only an expert with lengthy first hand experience of the material could compile.
At the heart of the book lies the furniture itself, from bonsai stands to painting tables and elaborate canopy beds, superbly photographed and in most cases documented here for the first time in print. Detailed drawings provide an intimate look at the ingenuity of the pieces’ design. The book’s design presents the exquisite and rare furniture in an innovative way, providing an inspiring point of entry for newcomers to the field, and a novel perspective for seasoned collectors and academics concerned with a vital time and place in the history of Chinese art.