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    Sale 2026

    Important Chinese Snuff Bottles From The J&J Collection, Part V

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 37

    A CARVED SILHOUETTE AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE

    OFFICIAL SCHOOL, 1770-1860

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A CARVED SILHOUETTE AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE
    OFFICIAL SCHOOL, 1770-1860
    Of well-hollowed, flattened form with a concave lip and recessed, flat oval foot surrounded by a footrim, the semi-transparent honey-grey stone carved using the blackish-brown and dendritic brown chalcedony with a minimum of surface editing, with a monkey climbing in the uppermost branches of a pine tree with four bees or wasps flying around him, the other main side with some blackish markings in the stone uninterpreted, quartz stopper with metal collar
    2 in. (7.38 cm.) high


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    For a discussion of the Official School of hard-stone carving, see Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 2, Quartz, under no. 258, where many subsequent examples are illustrated.

    The popular subject of a monkey (hou) with a bee or wasp (feng) provides the rebus, fenghou ('To be bestowed the rank of marquis' - although, here this second highest of five ranks is used as a generic term for high office in general). What stands out in this version of the design is the fact that the monkey appears to be in the very uppermost branches of a pine tree in search of his wasps, which are unusually plentiful, given that one would be enough to establish the symbolism. The fourth wasp may, in fact, have been intended as a lower clump of pine needles, since it is the only one where the artist has not carved in the antennae.

    Provenance

    H. R. N. Norton, London, 1947
    Lord Cunliffe Collection (no. H11)
    Bonhams, London, 11 November 2002, lot 87