A rare huanghuali altar table, qiaotouan, Qing dynasty, early 18th century

A rare huanghuali altar table, qiaotouan, Qing dynasty, early 18th century

Lot 153. A rare huanghuali altar table, qiaotouan, Qing dynasty, early 18th century; 95.5 by 201 by 45 cm, 37 3/8  by 79 1/4  by 17 3/4  in. Estimate £80,000 — 120,000. Lot Sold 100,000 GBP (129,210 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.

the panelled rectangular top terminating in everted flanges, above a plain beaded apron carved and pierced with ruyi scrolls atop each leg, the square section legs secured by two cross braces joined by a quatrefoil brace, all above a stretcher at the base. 

Provenance: Purchased from MD Flacks Ltd., 1999.

NoteFashioned from huanghuali boards of a warm brown tone and with a lively grain pattern, this table is remarkable for the elegant carved panels between the legs and the delicate and fluid rendering of the ruyi spandrels, accentuated by the finely beaded borders. Its construction is particularly unusual and exemplifies the variety of regional styles that developed in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The sturdy square-section legs are joined to the large spandrels and apron by a dovetail wedge, and therefore appear flush with the spandrels. This type of joinery is commonly associated with Fujian province, where the establishment of a discerning and wealthy merchant class resulted in the development of a distinctive furniture tradition.

huanghuali table of this type, but lacking the apron and the spandrel carved with a geometric design, was included in the exhibition Chinese Art from the Scholar’s Studio, J.J. Lally & Co. New York, 2015, cat. no. 71; and two tables attributed to the late Qing dynasty, illustrated in John Kwang-ming Ang, Longyan Wood FurnitureArts of Asia, vol. 34 no. 5 (October 2005), pls 19 and 20, were sold in our New York rooms, the first made of longyan wood, 1st/2nd December 1992, lot 547, and the second made of zitan, 23rd/24th March 1998, lot 752. See also a huanghuali table with the legs similarly joined to the spandrels, but with scroll ends and carved with chilong, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (I), Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 146.

Compare also a longyan display cabinet attributed to the late Qing dynasty, carved on the sides with braces joined to form a quatrefoil shape similar to those on the sides of the legs of the present table from the San Xing Tang collection, illustrated in John Kwang-ming Ang, op. cit., pls 40a and 40b.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, London, 15 May 2019, 10:30 AM