The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture, Ming dynasty huanghuali chair.
Three rare and important Ming dynasty huanghuali chairs are among the star lots of the Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture sale to be offered at Bonhams during Asia Week New York in March 2023. This twenty-lot collection was carefully purchased in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s by the Seattle-based couple known for their recent landmark gift of over 550 Japanese paintings, calligraphy, and ceramics to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, and the Portland Museum of Art.
Mr. Cowles has been collecting Asian Art for over 40 years, since he went to law school in San Francisco, and was encouraged by his aunt, Phoebe McCoy, who was then a docent at the Asian Art Museum. He was inspired to collect Chinese furniture through his trips to the Metropolitan Museum in New York and later the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, where he viewed their fine holdings of classical Chinse furniture. He founded the Crane Gallery in 1975, specializing in Asian Art, which he owned until his retirement in 2016. Over these decades, he and his wife, Mary have enhanced their private collection with superb Japanese paintings, calligraphy and porcelain alongside their passion for Chinese art. They have been active philanthropists and supporters of museums and educational ventures in Asian Art.