This bottle is a rare colorless glass version of the classic carved-relief white glass snuff bottles which bear the mark of the Guyue Xuan, a terrace in the retirement home of the Qianlong Emperor. In 1767 the Emperor seems to have encouraged a new group of enamellers to master the art of enameling on glass at the Court, their works associated with a single terraced hall in his newly-built garden, the Jianyuan. As these enamelers mastered their art, they evolved a new style of enameling, some on a flat plane, some on carved relief designs, which became the classic Guyue Xuan wares of the second half of the Qianlong reign. The carved group most probably evolved from the single-plane group. As a rule, and in the present bottle, the double-plane wares have the main design carved in relief that is complemented by enameling on the flat ground. Another feature of top-quality Guyue Xuan relief glass is the rejection of the standard neck and base borders found on most earlier Palace enamels, allowing more space for the bold designs.
The carved-relief examples confirm the close link between the Guyue Xuan-marked enameled wares and other carved glass wares from the Palace workshops, for they required close co-operation with an established, highly-skilled glassworks and carving facility.
See a very similar example with identical subject matter, probably painted by the same hand, in R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Burghley House Collection, Stamford, England, 1989, fig. 61; and a second in H. Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of The Rt. Hon. The Marquess of Exeter, K.C.M.G., p. 106, fig. E.15. Another clear glass bottle molded in relief and painted in enamels with a heron or crested egret standing amidst large lotus pads, flowers and pods, formerly from the Reif and Ko Family Collections, was sold in these rooms, 18 October 1993, lot 205.