Antique Elm Painting Table
Shanxi, circa 1830
This wonderful old table is of a type usually referred to as a 'painting table' as it would have been used as a work surface for painting, calligraphy or other scholarly persuits. The table ends extend well past the recessed legs, which are supported at each side by double stretchers. The table is made from elm, like much of the better quality furniture produced in Shanxi province, and originally it would have been finished in black lacquer. The lacquer is still visible in parts but has largely worn away from the table's top surface over its near 200 year life, showing the more natural, wide grained character of the wood and creating a wonderful patina.
The intricate joinery used by the Chinese carpenters is quite visible here. The top of each leg slots into the table top with large, mitred, two part tenon joints, fitting first through a plain apron and then into the top surface. The large rectangular ends of the four rear tenons are each visible in the table top. This ingenious, complex method of joinery meant that carpenters had no need for nails or in most cases even glue, and allowed for some movement in the wood. The table top itself has a central panel set within a surrounding frame in a 'tongue and groove' construction, as was common in all Chinese furniture. This 'floating' panel was able to expand and contract slightly as the humidity and other conditions changed through the year, preventing any cracking or splitting in the wood.
This is now a quite rare piece in highly original condition. It is deep enough to be used today as a very distinctive, characterful dining table, narrow enough for a large console or would make a wonderful desk in a home office.
Use code FREEUK on orders over £1000 for free standard delivery to most UK mainland addresses