Compound Wardrobe

Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

Made in China, Asia

18th century

Wood with black lacquer, red and gilt decoration; brass fittings and lock

9 feet 6 1/4 inches × 4 feet 8 1/2 inches × 2 feet 2 5/16 inches (290.2 × 143.5 × 66.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 226, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Bloomfield Moore Fund, 1940

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Intended for the spacious interiors of the residences of the Chinese nobility, this extraordinary cabinet, one of a pair, was designed to store clothing, with the separate, smaller cupboards on top used for hats. The red and gold lotus and dragon motifs were painted on the black lacquer chests to create a sumptuous effect appropriate to the status of its aristocratic owner. The five-clawed dragon shown here was the symbol of the emperor as the Son of Heaven, mediating between heaven and earth. The use of this image was originally restricted to wares intended for imperial use or commissioned by imperial command. The frontal design of the five-clawed dragon with pairs of smaller confronting dragons above and below is almost identical to that found on imperial robes of the same period, which would have been kept folded flat in such a cabinet. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 32.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.