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Lot 100. A rare huanghuali square table, late Ming-early Qing dynasty105.5 by 105.5 by 88.2 cm, 41½ by 41½ by 34¾ inLot sold 453,600 GBP (Estimate : 120,000 - 160,000 GBP). © Sotheby's 2022

Note: Tables of this versatile form and size were designed as surfaces for dining, writing, appreciating antiques, or even playing games. Square tables often appear on printed books and paintings, such as in the illustration of Chapter 11 of a Chongzhen period edition of Jin Ping Mei [The Plum in the Golden Vase], reproduced in Sarah Handler, In the Light of Chinese Architecture, Berkeley, 2005, pg. 166, showing a square table in the garden of the Verdent Spring Bordello.

The present table is rare as it incorporates a number of features that distinguishes it from the more conventional and restrained Chinese designs. The plain straight waist and the stylised curl braces meeting up at the corners between the legs are accompanied by elaborate carved decorations on the aprons. Each side is powerfully carved with a pair of confronting chilong, with the corners rendered in scrollwork simulating metal mounts. Together they exemplify the highly skilled craftsmanship of the period, transcending the traditional boundaries to produce an elaborate, yet still classically refined piece of huanghuali furniture.

Compare a similar table sold in our New York rooms, 29th/30th November, 1993, lot 442, and again at Christie’s London, 8th November 2016, lot 195; one with lotus-leaf waist and braces carved in the form of lingzhi, sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2012, lot 155; and a slightly smaller summer-winter table, carved with lingzhi and ducks on the beaded-edges apron, from the Dr S Y Yip collection, exhibited in Chan Chair and Qin Bench: The Dr S. Y. Yip Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture II, Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1998, cat. no. 19, and sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th October 2015, lot 118. See also side tables with very similar designs, including two in The MQJ Collection, the private collection of Grace Wu Bruce, illustrated in The Best of The Best. The MQJ Collection of Ming Furniture, vol. 1, Beijing, 2017, pgs 106 and 108.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, London, 11 May 2022