...Chinese antique furniture has an unerring sense of proportion, combined with a functional form that is unique..

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About our collection

Sharon Fitzsimmons has a passionate and long-standing history working with Chinese antique furniture. Since the 1990s she has selected pieces in China and, using an eye honed first by having grown up with Chinese furniture in her family home, and second by working for the noted Beatrice Owen of Windsor House Antiques in Hong Kong. And her passion for learning and collecting continues today. 

The Fitzsimmons Collection a selection which can be viewed on this website and is a private collection offering a diverse range of aesthetically beautiful and well crafted Chinese antique furniture and iconic decorative pieces. 

Sharon Fitzsimmons took her MBA in Boston, and worked in New York, then living for almost 20 years in Hong Kong. Sharon learned Mandarin and has sourced antiques in China for many years, and sold to clients worldwide. In 2005 Sharon and family moved to the UK and Sharon set up Chinese Antique Furniture. 

Sharon has a passion for both selling pieces and giving lectures about Chinese antique furniture.  She has been invited to lecture at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, a Royal British Legion's 90th Anniversary Celebration and the Montpellier Gallery.

In the lectures she uses furniture from the Collection as a window into the Chinese courtyard house, the Emperors' Forbidden City, and even the scholar's studio, each one itself representing an example of a hierarchical life now long gone.

Each piece has a story to tell and her lectures provide a forum for presentation and discussion of the uniqueness of pieces, as artefacts and objects of art.

Most pieces in the Collection date from the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911), with a majority originating from Shanxi province, a region renowned for fine furniture and craftsmanship. The furniture adopts the minimalist late Ming style, and evolves to a more intricate late Qing style.

Each piece has an interesting and sometimes exciting story to tell, and part of the pleasure our customers take is knowing the history and context of their pieces. 

We have therefore included a history of each category of furniture, and detailed description of each piece which we hope you will read and enjoy.

The cultural history and heritage of China is profoundly fascinating and rich: understanding it through its furniture, and how each piece evolved and was used in the home provides a wonderful historical viewpoint.

Please enjoy browsing, and contact us should you wish further information or if you would like an appointment to visit our showroom in Cheltenham.

Read about the history of Chinese furniture Read about the history of Chinese furniture

What do we look for when we buy?

Purity of line, devotion to detail, and flawless construction are the three structural elements that we prize. Furniture with these three elements has always been admired for its durability, strength, restraint and dignity.

In addition we look for the visual appeal of sculptural form,  functionality, beauty of wood and finishes, and a sense of personality.

We also look for authenticity. Each piece must be as close as possible to how the original craftsman intended it to be.

It is inevitable, given constant use over time and social upheaval in China, that no piece is found without some form of wear and tear or damage. Our aim is to refurbish the piece to be as close as possible to how it should have looked with natural wear and patina.

There is furniture in  the market that is made from a combination of parts of various pieces, and given a piano black lacquer finish. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

Years of experience in sourcing within China, and working with highly skilled craftsmen , allow us to understand what can and cannot be done, as well as what should and should not be done during refurbishment.

These beliefs determine the pieces that we seek in China. We fill a niche. Pieces are not made to order, nor finished to produce a gleaming brand new look.

Instead the collection presents genuine, high-quality pieces of Chinese domestic furniture, each with a story to tell, each with presence and personality, and each looking as they should look.

Why buy Chinese antique furniture?

In the broadest context, Chinese antique furniture offers a window into an ancient, hierarchical and structured society, which no longer exists. In a narrower context, Chinese furniture has an overriding appeal which can be divided into four components.

Firstly its aesthetic principles. There is an unerring sense of proportion, combined with functional conception of form, that is unique.

Secondly, its construction. Chinese domestic carpentry follows architectural carpentry and many of the techniques and joints are interchangeable. No glue or metal nails are used, no Western concepts of measurement and modelling, just the eye and the extraordinary visualisation and execution of Master craftsmen.

Thirdly, it looks great. There is always one style or one piece that can bring a room to life by creating an accent, or a theme, that works well in any contemporary decor.

Finally, Chinese furniture is increasingly visible in western homes. Interior designers and collectors  understand its beauty and complexity, and are responding to the growth of China, its ideas, its culture, and its increasing presence in our view of the world and its future.

Chinese antique furniture has been collected for some time, and truly stunning collections have been assembled both privately and in museums: this began in the mid 20th century, following the appreciation of the genre by Europeans in China in the 1930s and 40s.

Following China’s subsequent isolation, the genre came into its own in the the 1980s, both as a collectable in its own right, every bit as fascinating and rich as the more obvious Chinese genres of porcelain and Jade.

Read about the history of Chinese furniture Read about the history of Chinese furniture