The present table is an exceptional example of its type, using thick, substantial sections of huanghuali for the top, frame, aprons and legs. As the supply of huanghuali dwindled, tables of this form generally became thinner and less impressive, owing to the fact that the material was harder and more costly to obtain. The generous proportions of the present table would therefore suggest an earlier date. The generous width of the table in relation to its length singles this particular example out as a true painting table, intended for the creation, display, and appreciation of paintings.
This form is referred to in the Classic of Lu Ban as a 'character one' table, due to its similarity in profile to the single horizontal stroke of the Chinese character for 'one' (yi). The spare, economic lines of this design make the 'character one' table one of the classic forms found in Chinese furniture construction. The basic proportions were adapted to make large painting tables, smaller tables, benches and stools.
Other tables of this elegant form include the example illustrated by R. H. Ellsworth, Chinese Furniture: One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection, New York, 1996, pp. 164-5, no. 61, where it is dated circa 1600-1650, and by G. Ecke, Chinese Domestic Furniture, Vermont and Tokyo, 1962, p. 46, pl. 36.