Carved Elm Oriental Altar Table
Beijing, circa 1780
This is one of the most beautiful Chinese altar tables we have come across in recent years. It dates right back to the end of the 18th century, where it was produced in Beijing from elm wood. The original lacquer finish was quite worn, so the table has been stripped back to show the pale, wide grained, characterful wood below. The table still shows signs of use as a stage for ancestor offerings on the top surface, including a burn mark in the centre, but it is in excellent condition given its age. It is decorated with carved cloud head spandrels both on the front and back and the legs are supported with double stretchers. The joinery here is interesting and gives an indication of the table's age. The tenon joints that secure the top of each leg into the table top are offset rather than parallel - a technique that was used in earlier Chinese furniture but not seen after the late eighteenth century. A wonderful, now quite rare, piece that would make a stunning console in a reception area today.