A 'Huanghuali' Recessed-leg long Table (qiaotouan). Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century. Photo Sotheby's

the narrow single plank top with molded edges terminating in everted flanges and supported on trestles, the square legs with beaded edges and raised double beading to the center joined by molded humped shoe foot, framing an openwork beaded-edge panel, well-carved with a scaly qilin prancing on rocks, cash, ingots and waves beneath scrolling clouds, the straight apron with a beaded edge terminating with ruyi-scroll spandrels, the wood with a rich, reddish patina. Height 37 in., 94 cm; Width 93 in., 236.2 cm; Depth 14 3/8 in., 36.5 cm. Estimate 300,000-500,000 USD

PROVENANCE: Gerard Hawthorn, London, acquired March 1998.

NOTE: Long tables of the present form, often referred to as 'altar tables' , are the subject of an article by Sarah Handler, 'Side Tables, a Surface for Treasures and the Gods', Orientations, May 1996, pp. 32-41, where the author comments that the type appears to have been more frequently used as a side table. The present example is distinguished by its long single plank top and finely carved openwork panels. Handler ibid, illustrates a similar table, p. 39, fig. 13; and another with cloud-form spandrels and dragon-end panels is illustrated Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, Nicholas Grindley and Anita Christy, One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection, New York, 1996, no. 57., the authors also discuss a longer example of a huanghuali table of over ten feet, ibid., cat. no. 66. Tables of this length formed from uncut single planks are rare, as few survive in their original size and the present lot is a fine example of the extravagant use of huanghuali that was possible in earlier times.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. New York. 14 september 2011 www.sothebys.com