A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century

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Lot 84TP Y
A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo
Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century
Sold for £ 118,750 (US$ 154,909) inc. premium

Lot Details
The Property of a Lady of Title 女爵藏品
A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century
A very rare Huanghuali square 'Immortals' table, Baxian zhuo
Late Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century
The top set with a fine large well-figured 'floating panel', above a u-shaped apron, outlined by similarly curving struts tennoned to the gently tapering cylindrical legs with buttress spandrels.
92cm (36 1/4in) square x 80cm (31 1/2in) high.


  • 明末十六/十七世紀 黃花梨一腿三牙高羅鍋帳八仙桌

    Provenance: Francesco Maria, Marchese Taliani de Marchio (1887 - 1968), Grand Officer of the Italian Crown, Commander of the Order of St Maurice and Lazarus, and Commander of the Order of Pius IX (Ordine Piano), and his wife Archduchess Maragaretha d'Austria Toscana, Marchesa Taliani de Marchio (1894 – 1986).
    Acquired from Robert M. Drummond, Beijing, probably on 15 April 1939.

    Published and Illustrated: Gustav Ecke, Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, no.54, pl.71 (the present lot is noted in Ecke's publication as owned by Robert and William Drummond, from whom Marchese Taliani acquired the present lot)

    來源: 佛朗西斯高•瑪利亞,塔里安利•得•馬基奧侯爵(1887-1968)及馬加烈特•奧地利-托斯卡納女大公,塔里安利•得•馬基奧女侯爵(1894-1986)伉儷收藏
    據傳於1939年4月15日購自北平古董商Robert M. Drummond

    古斯塔夫•艾克(Gustav Ecke)著,《Chinese Domestic Furniture(中國室內傢俱)》,北京,1944年,編號54,圖71(書中註為Robert及William Drummond藏品,而塔翁即向前者購入此桌)

    Robert and William Drummond were Chinese furniture dealers in Beijing during the first half of the 20th century. Dr Gustav Ecke in his seminal publication Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, made a particular mention of "Robert and William Drummond, whose active interest has enriched the present collection and the homes of many Peking residents".

    Marchese Taliani was a distinguished Italian diplomat who lived through major historical upheavals of the first half of the 20th century, events whose impact affect all to this day. His first diplomatic appointment was to Berlin in 1912; followed by Constantinople in 1913, where during the First World War he negotiated an agreement for the protection of Italian citizens and interests in the (soon to be partitioned) Ottoman Empire. From 1916 to 1919 he served in St Petersburg, and under the privilege of diplomatic immunity was in a unique position to observe and chronicle first-hand the October Revolution, its day by day development, the subsequent fall of Tsarist Russia and the establishment of the Soviet Republic; from 1919 he served in Rome as Secretary of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; with later assignments to London (1921 - 1923) and again to Constantinople (1924 – 1928), this time as the Republic of Turkey; from 1929 - 1930 he was in Rome as Head of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; in 1932 he was appointed Italian Ambassador to the Netherlands; in 1938 he was appointed Ambassador to China, where he remained until 1946; and his last diplomatic appointment was in 1951 as Ambassador to Spain until 1952.

    Sent to China in 1938 as Ambassador to the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek in Nanjing, he became an acute - and far from humourless, despite the hardships of everyday life - front line eye-witness of the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which the Japanese forces captured the capital and attacked Shanghai. When Mussolini recognised Wang Jingwei's Japanese puppet government, Taliani presented his credentials to him. On 8 September 1943, having refused to swear allegiance to the Italian Social Republic (Republic of Salò), he and his wife, the Archduchess Margaretha d'Austria Toscana (1894 - 1986), were arrested and interned by the Japanese in a concentration camp near Shanghai, where they remained for two years until the end of the war. After the end of hostilities, the new government of Alcide De Gasperi reconfirmed him as Ambassador to China until 1946.

    A number of masterpieces of classical Chinese furniture in the collection have been published by the eminent scholar Dr Gustav Ecke in his seminal book Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, as well as Dr Ecke's article devoted to folding chairs, 'Wandlungen Des Faltstuhls: Bemerkungen zur Geschichte der Euraischen Stuhlform' ('Development of the Folding Chair: Observations on Euroasian Chair Forms'), which was published in Monumenta Serica, vol.9, 1944.

    Many of the purchase invoices survive, providing an important documentation of Chinese art dealers active in Shanghai and Beijing between 1938 and 1946. The majority of the invoices are dated to between December 1938 and July 1943, with a significant gap until April 1946, explained by Marchese and Marchesa Taliani's internment by the Japanese. The long list of dealers demonstrates the vibrant Chinese art market in Shanghai and Beijing in the late 1930s and early 1940s; this list includes the following:

    In Shanghai - K. D. Lu, Yee Chun Chang, C. K. Chou, Strehlneek's Gallery of Chinese Art, The Midoh Co., Tung Koo Tsar Chinese Curios & Arts Co., Philip Chu, Zui Wha Curios & Co., T. Y. King & Co., King Koo Chai, Tai Loong & Co., Tin Dao Shan Fang, Y. L. Hong, Chu Tsun Tsai, The China Curios Co., Hsueh Ken Chai, Zung Chang Ziang Co., The Little Pagoda, M. L. Kwauh, Hoggard – Sigler, and Foo Yuen Tsai.

    In Beijing - J. Plaut, Jung Hsing Chai, Mathias Komor, Tung Ku Chai Curio and Picture Store, Yi Pao Chai Jade Store, Jung Hsing Chai, Wan E. Cheng, Yung Pao Chia Jade Store, Mario Prodan, and Tung Yi & Co.

    Marchese Taliani published three books: Pietrogrado 1917, Milan, 1935; È Morto in Cina, Milan, 1949; and Dopoguerra a Shanghai, Milan, 1958.

    Square tables, such as the present lot, also known as 'Eight, Six or Four Immortals table', depending on the number of people that could sit around it, were moved frequently and were in constant use and thus had to be structurally robust. This gave rise to square tables with humpback stretchers and corner spandrels which provided additional support, whilst providing ample leg room for those seated around it. The unusual three-spandrel construction supporting the corners of the table-top most probably evolved from the brackets supporting the roofs of buildings; see S.Handler, Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture, Berkley, 2005, p.163, and Grace Wu Bruce, Two Decades of Ming Furniture, Beijing, 2011, p.27.

    Compare with a very similar huanghuali square table, Ming dynasty, in the Palace Museum, Beijing illustrated by Hu Desheng, Ming Qing gongting jiaju daguan, Beijing, 2006, p.158, no.160; a very similar square table, circa 1550-1600, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is illustrated by C.Clunas, Chinese Furniture, 1997, p.57, pl.46; and see also a further example, Ming dynasty, illustrated by Grace Wu Bruce, ibid., p.25.
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  1. Sophie Plender
    Auction administration - Chinese Works of Art
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