Lot 1243. A rare huanghuali rectangular side table, 17th-18th century; 32 in. (81.3 cm) high, 54 ½ (138.4 cm.) wide, 22 ½ in. (57.2 cm.) deep. Estimate USD 70,000 - USD 90,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018
The table has a single floating panel set in a rectangular frame above a wraparound waist and wraparound stretchers joined by pairs of interlocking rings around the exterior to simulate bamboo. The whole is raised on thick legs of round section.
Provenance: Grace Wu Bruce, Hong Kong, 1998.
Note: The design of the present table was inspired by bamboo furniture. The elegant wraparound elements and rounded members were carved to simulate the bamboo furniture construction technique of bending long stalks of bamboo using steam or heat. The abundance of bamboo made it popular among the lower classes, as a cost-effective and more easily portable alternative to the more luxurious huanghuali furniture. The present table would have been commissioned by a wealthy family, attracted to the humble origins of bamboo furniture, but seeking the luxury and status associated with precious huanghuali.
A pair of bamboo-inspired rectangular tables was sold at Christie’s New York, 17-18 March 2016, lot 1316. See also, another pair of banzhuo of related design and proportion, illustrated by G. Wu Bruce, Living with Ming - the Lu Ming Shi Collection, Hong Kong, 2000, p. 119, no. 27.
A pair of huanghuali rectangular side tables, banzhuo, 17th century; 35 in. (88.9 cm.) high, 43 ½ in. (110.4 cm.) wide, 30 ½ in. (77.5 cm.) deep. Price realised USD 785,000 at Christie’s New York, 17-18 March 2016, lot 1316. © Christie's Images Ltd 2016
Each table has a single floating panel set in a rectangular frame with double-reeded aprons wrapping completely around the exterior to simulate bamboo. The wraparound stretchers are joined by pairs of interlocked-ring struts. The whole is raised on thick legs of round section. Estimate USD 600,000 - USD 800,000.
Provenance: Grace Wu Bruce, Co. Ltd, Hong Kong and London.
Glen Alpine Collection, South Africa.
Eskenazi Ltd., London.
Exhibited: Eskenazi, London, Chinese huanghuali furniture from a private collection, 3 - 25 November 2011, no. 14.
Note: The present pair of tables appears to be a very rare example of banzhou(half-tables) surviving as a pair.
The flush-corner-leg design allows the tables to easily fit together to form a square table, enabling a great deal of flexibility in their use. They could be separated and used either as side tables throughout the home, or put together to form a square table of the same proportions as an ‘Eight Immortals’ table. The majority of Chinese furniture was not intended to be static in the home, and many of the classic forms were designed with versatility and the practicality of moving them around the home in mind.
As noted by Wang Shixiang in, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, vol. I, Hong Kong, 1990, p. 54-55, Banzhuo literally means "half table" and is so-called for its size, which is approximately half that of the 'eight immortals table'." Wang also goes on to explain that the banzhuo was mainly used for serving wine and food, and was gradually replaced by the circular table during the mid-Qing period. The banzhuo has sometimes also been referred to as a jiezhuo, literally meaning extension table. The name (extension table) comes from the practice of using these tables to augment the size of the largest square table known as the 'eight immortals table' or baxianzhuo.
Interestingly, another identical pair of banzhuo of bamboo-form design, is illustrated by G. Wu Bruce, Living with Ming - the Lu Ming Shi Collection, Hong Kong, 2000, p. 119, no. 27, suggesting that they may even have formed a set of four.