belonging to Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903) " a leading nineteenth century Sydney merchant from China. He was one of Sydney's most famous and well-loved personalities and made a significant impact on the social and political scene of Sydney at a time of strong anti-Chinese sentiment in Australia", the backs of the chairs set with a circular porcelain panel, beautifully painted with two rampant five clawed dragons in iron red, surrounded by cloud scrolls and flaming pearls in tones of pink, green and yellow, set within a circular carved frieze, above a carved and pierced dragon style splat, flanked by a pair of arms, above a panel seat with carved apron, on curved legs with carved low relief motif,Provenance: Collection of Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903), Lawsons Sydney, Christie's 17 Sept 2002 Lot 567, then Private Collection Sydney Exhibited: No Ordinary Man, Sydney's Quong Tart: citizen, merchant and philanthropist, Powerhouse Museum, Queen Victoria Building, July 2004 Catalogue Note: "A prominent businessman, he owned a network of tearooms in the Sydney Arcade, the Royal Arcade and King Street. His crowning success was the ‘snotty state’ in the Queen Victoria Market, now the Queen Victoria Building. He was also a community leader, well connected with the local political and social elites. An acting consular to the imperial Chinese government at the time, the Chinese Emperor made him an honorary Mandarin of the fifth degree in 1887, in acknowledgment of his service to the Overseas Chinese community and to European-Chinese relations in Australia. In 1894, he was advanced to the fourth degree and was appointed Mandarin of the Blue Button, honoured by the Dragon Throne with the Peacock Feather.Bon voyage letter from employees (20 April 1894)An active philanthropist, he often provided dinners, gifts and entertainment at his own expense for recipients ranging from the Benevolent Society home at Liverpool, to the newsboys of Ashfield, Summer Hill, Croydon and Burwood. From 1885 to 1888, he provided a series of dinners for the inmates of destitute asylums.He also had progressive ideas about Sydney social politics. His tea rooms were the site of the first meetings of Sydney's suffragettes, and he devised new and improved employment policies for staff, such as paid sick leave.He was a spokesman for the Chinese community, often advocating for the rights of Chinese-Australians and working as an interpreter. He was one of the founders of the first Chinese merchants association in Sydney, titled the Lin Yik Tong.He campaigned against the opium trade, and in 1883 went on an investigation to the Chinese camps in Southern New South Wales. The report revealed widespread opium addiction, and on 24 April 1884, Quong Tart presented a petition to the colonial secretary requesting the ban of opium imports. In June that year Quong Tart also tried to win support for a ban of opium in Melbourne and Ballarat, Victoria. In 1887, he presented a second petition to parliament, and produced a pamphlet titled A Plea for the Abolition of the Importation of Opium.He was also part of the NSW Royal Commission on Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality and Charges of Bribery Against Members of the Police Force from 1891 to 1892"