Lot 130. A small huanghuali recessed-leg painting table, pingtouan, Late Ming dynasty; 81.3 by 137.5 by 81.3 cm., 32 by 54 1/8 by 32 in. Estimate 2,800,000 — 4,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 7,880,000 HKD (905,853 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Literature: Catherine Maudsley, ed., Classical and Vernacular Chinese Furniture in the Living Environment, Hong Kong, 1998, p. 125.
Note: "A classic desk of elegant simplicity."
Tables with legs not at the corners, but recessed, are called an tables. This classic pingtouan design has its origin in ancient Chinese architecture in wood. Completely plain, this simple form with pure lines is what first captured the attention of twentieth century furniture historians. The design is now considered quintessentially Ming.
Tables with this design were used for various functions as seen in Ming publications in woodblock illustrations. The present example, being unusually deep, over 81 cm deep, is especially suitable for being used as a desk, the modern equivalent of a Ming dynasty painting table. Painting tables are very rare in surviving examples of classic Chinese furniture.
A very similar painting table in the Lu Ming Shi Collection, also with a huamu top, but not as deep, is illustrated in Grace Wu Bruce, Living with Ming – the Lu Ming Shi Collection, Hong Kong, 2000, pp. 126-127.
Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015