• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 268


    JAPAN, 1890-1930

    Price Realised  


    JAPAN, 1890-1930
    Of compressed form with concave oval foot surrounded by a flat footrim, the main sides of the silver body incised with chrysanthemums against a wave background and covered with transparent red enamel, turquoise stopper with silver collar
    2 14/32 in. (6.2 cm.) high

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The enamel technique employed here is known by its French name basse-taille (bas-relief) or its Japanese name tsuiki-jippo (enameled raised design). The pattern is engraved or embossed in low relief on a silver body and the design is covered by transparent enamel. This technique became popular in the late Meiji period and three possible artists who may have produced this bottle were Kawaguchi Bunzaemon, Kumeno Teitaro, or the less-well-known artist, Ogasawara Shuzo.

    A series of Japanese enamel snuff bottles in basse taille and cloisonné were among those produced, mainly for an export market to America and Europe in the late nineteenth, and early twentieth century (see discussion under lot 250). Japanese makers may have been influenced to some degree by somewhat similar wares produced at Guangzhou (see a large Qianlong blue-enameled basin illustrated in Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, p. 89, no. 56, fig. 3), which, in turn, were influenced by European enamel techniques found on gifts to the Qing Court in the eighteenth century (see Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, back cover, and nos. 23 and 24), which have red enamel on worked gold grounds. Although a number of Japanese cloisonné enamel snuff bottles are known, their basse taille equivalents are extremely rare, and this is the only example known with monochrome, ruby-red enamel.

    In China, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of longevity and of autumn, representing the ninth month, although its significance on a Japanese snuff bottle is probably related to local symbolism, where the chrysanthemum was a courtly symbol.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.