It is rare to find a table of this exceptional length and depth, and even rarer to find one with such a massive inset burl panel. One of the most impressive features of the present table is the long, single-panel, floating top. The natural knotted and highly textured qualities of burl make large panels difficult to source, and to obtain such a large single panel suggests the enormous resources of the individual who commissioned this superb table. The abstract and dynamic grain of the darker burlwood provides an elegant contrast to the golden tones of the huanghauli.
Large tables are often erroneously labeled painting tables, but to be considered a true painting table, such as the present table, which measures an extraordinary 34 inches deep, the surface must be broad enough to accommodate a large painting and the accoutrements associated with painting or calligraphy (ink, ink stones, brushes, and washers, etc.). Tables of this large size would also be ideal for the appreciation of a painting.
Several examples of this elegant form have been published. See 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 G. Ecke, Chinese Domestic Furniture, Vermont and Tokyo, 1962, p. 46, pl. 36.