A massive 'huanghuali' and hardwood recessed-leg table (qiaotouan), Ming dynasty and later

Lot 707.A massive 'huanghuali' and hardwood recessed-leg table (qiaotouan), Ming dynasty and later. Height 36 3/4  in., 93.3 cm; Width 93 3/4  in., 238.1 cm; Depth 15 3/8  in., 39 cm. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 USD. Lot sold 212,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

a long, well figured, single-plank top set with everted ends, supported beneath by four transverse stretchers and a narrow, molded frame with beaded edges, forming a straight apron above boldly carved stylized phoenix-head spandrels, flanking the rectangular-section legs, with rounded fronts, beaded edges, and joined by square-section stretchers enclosing a rectangular openwork beaded-edge panel of vigorously confronting chilong amid scrolling lingzhi, and shaped foliate carved aprons beneath, all supported on elegantly cusped and barbed slab feet.

Note: The form of the present table is described in Wen Zhenheng's Treatise on Superfluous Things, the late 17th century guide to good taste, as a bizhuo or side table to be placed against a wall and used for display a set with items of religious or ceremonial significance. Although the author also decried the use of excessive carving, the lively openwork of the panels is effectively balanced by the long board top and elegant simplicity of the apron and spandrels.  

Examples of qiaotouan with splayed feet are in several museums such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This form is discussed and illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1989, nos. B86-7. A very similar table of tielimu is illustrated in Hu Desheng, A Treasury of Ming & Qing Dynasty Palace Furniture, vol. I, Beijing, 2007, pl. 306.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 20 March 2019