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A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN
A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN
A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN
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A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN
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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JONATHAN AND JESSIKA AUERBACH
A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN

17TH/18TH CENTURY

Details
A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE HUANGHUALI PLANK-TOP PEDESTAL TABLE, JIAJI'AN
17TH/18TH CENTURY
The exceptionally massive single-plank top with finely beaded edge is supported on thick, similarly beaded, tiered 'pedestals', raised on thick, beaded trestle legs framing reticulated panels separated by fixed single stretchers, the whole set into wide shoe feet.
36 in. (92.7 cm.) high, 178¼ in. (452.8 cm.) wide, 22 in. (55.9 cm.) deep
Provenance
Grace Wu Bruce, 1996.
Exhibited
Denver Art Museum, 2001-2012.

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Lot Essay

The present table is amongst the most extraordinary huanghuali plank-top pedestal tables known, and probably the largest to be offered at public auction. The sheer size of the top plank, which measures 178. 1/4 in. (452.8 cm.) long and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) thick, makes it among the longest and thickest single huanghuali plank-top tables ever recorded. This massive size suggests that the table would have been immensely costly, even at the time of manufacture, and a highly prized possession of the wealthy scholar or official who owned it.

Surviving examples of plank-top pedestal tables, in general, appear to be quite rare, and compared to other types of tables, relatively few extant examples are known, especially those of the present size. The method of demountable construction is most often seen on these early examples with thick and heavy plank tops, as it made the transportation of such tables much easier. The proportions of the present table, and generous use of such a massive single plank of huanghuali, suggest an early date, as over time members generally became smaller due to the shortage of huanghuali. In addition, plank-top pedestal tables appear to be quite rare, owing to the fact that their easily dissembled members can become separated over the years. However, we know that the top panel and lower sections of the present table are original to each other, as their width and general proportions correspond quite well.

The massive size of the present table suggests that it would have likely held a place of great importance at the center of an altar, or against the wall of a grand hall. See, for example, the placement of a related, mother-of-pearl-embellished lacquer fixed recessed trestle-leg table in the Palace of Gathering Excellence, illustrated in Ming Qing Gong Ting Jia Ju Da Guan, Part II, Beijing, 2006, p. 698, pl. 800. A plank-top pedestal table of similar form, made of stone, can be seen on one of ten album leaves depicting the festivities of a garden party entitled 'Ten Paintings on Maids of Honour' by Leng Mei (active 1703-1717), illustrated in The Collection of the Palace Museum: Court Painting of the Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 1992, p. 41, no. 8.

For a further discussion of these types of massive altar tables, see Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota, 1999, p. 126, where the authors note that "as altar tables, they could be set with ancestral tablets, Buddhist or Daoist images, and with a variety of ritual utensils including censers, flower vases, candle holders, and offering plates. Some altar tables reach ten feet in length and their symbolic importance to the ritual conduct of a Confucian Buddhist household cannot be overstated. It is understandable that these major pieces of ceremonial furniture would often be of grand proportions. (These) long tables were also called wall tables and served a variety of secular functions throughout the household including the display of precious objects." It is important to note that the current table is a full 58 in. (147.3 cm.) longer than the longest table cited by Jacobsen and Grindley. Refer, also, to Sarah Handler's article, "Side Tables, a Surface for Treasures and the Gods," in Chinese Furniture: Selected Articles from Orientations, 1984-1999, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 200-9, where she further discusses the role of this type of table.

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