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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 33

    A SUPERB INSIDE-PAINTED GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE

    SIGNED MA SHAOXUAN, BEIJING, DATED THE DAY BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN THE WUXU YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1898

    Price Realised  

    A SUPERB INSIDE-PAINTED GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE
    SIGNED MA SHAOXUAN, BEIJING, DATED THE DAY BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN THE WUXU YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1898
    Of flattened form with flat lip and recessed, flat oval foot surrounded by a footrim, painted with a continuous scene of nine monkeys on each main side at various pursuits, some seated, others clambering on the gnarled branches of pine trees or atop a large twisted rock, another two eating the fruit of a peach tree issuing from the base of the rock, with an inscription in regular script with the date 'The day before the beginning of summer in the wuxu year of the Guangxu reign' followed by the signature 'Composed at the Capital by Ma Shaoxuan', followed by the seal Shaoxuan, glass stopper with gilt-metal collar
    2¾ in. (6.99 cm.) high


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    See Moss, Graham and Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 4, Inside Painted, nos. 579 and 626, for a discussion of Ma Shaoxuan's career. While the subject of a monkey seated on a tree is more frequently associated with works produced by his elder brother, or by Ma Shaoxian, his nephew, who worked with him and often produced works under his name, the quality of the painting on this bottle is extraordinary, and the subject far more complex than the usual design of single monkey, confirming the hand of the master himself. In undertaking the subject of monkeys himself, Ma has produced one of the great masterpieces of his career - equal in every way to his series of monochrome portraits. Not only is the subject unique, always a good sign of the hand of the master himself with his finest works, but the scope and complexity of the composition is extraordinary. Like the finest of his small series of similarly complex landscape scenes (as opposed to the simple, repeated, workshop designs), if blown up to the size of a painting and isolated from the bottle, this would rank as a serious Chinese painting, whereas the workshop versions of a single monkey would not.