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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 17



    Price Realised  


    Of flattened form with flat lip and flat oval foot surrounded by a footrim, painted with a continuous design of flowering lotus, grass and a hovering dragonfly, inscribed with a couplet in draft script, followed by the signature Yuchuan, with one seal preceding the couplet (Zhonghe - 'Central peace') and two following (Wu Yuchuan and Shangao - 'As high as the mountains'), all in seal script, below a leiwen border encircling the neck and a band of lingzhi heads around the shoulder, tourmaline stopper
    2 in. (5.44 cm.) high

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    The inscription may be translated as:
    As determined as a gentleman's [embrace of] virtue;
    As charming as a beautiful girl's adornments.

    This exceptional bottle allows for the correct reading of a series of seals on enameled glass bottles where the first two characters of the artist's name are are easily read, but the third would be open to interpretation. The present lot is the only example where the given name is clearly written in regular script. This group of bottles, as discussed by H. Moss in "Mysteries of the Ancient Moon", JICSBS, Spring 2006, pp. 16-32, is related to the Guyue Xuan (Ancient Moon Pavilion) and Hu Xuan groups of enameled wares.

    The lotus design is painted in a similar palette and uses a similar concept of simple outlines filled with highly stylized texturing strokes, providing a link to contemporary bottles signed Hu Xuan. As with the latter group of bottles, many of the Wu Yuchuan designs are accompanied by related poems in cursive script. The pink petals are outlined in iron-red - a standard way of depicting pink blooms of any sort among later, classic Guyue Xuan wares. The neck border with double-unit leiwen above a shoulder of stylized lingzhi heads is another common feature on Guyue Xuan bottles.

    While the history of the Guyue Xuan enameled wares is still the subject of much research, the group to which the present lot belongs bears strong connections with the court. See Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 195, where a sepia-enameled bottle decorated with geese is illustrated. Versions of this design appear on other ceramic pieces decorated at the Court. A Qianlong-marked teapot in the Percival David Foundation is decorated in overglaze enamels with a comparable design of geese, and even has an identical poetic inscription to the one appearing on this example; see R. Scott, For the Imperial Court. Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, no. 34. The prototype to these pieces may very well be a Yongzheng famille rose bowl with geese and an inscription, the second line of which is the same as that of the poem appearing on the snuff bottle and the teapot; the bowl was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 14 November 1989, lot 314. Another Wu Yuchuan bottle is in the Bloch Collection, decorated with scenes of rice cultivation from the Gengzhi tu (Pictures of Tilling and Weaving).

    Taking into account the meanings of the seals Zhonghe (referring to the central power of the Emperor) and Shangao (a popular wish for longevity and happiness) together with the existence of other bottles signed by Wu Yuchuan with Qianlong and Guyue Xuan marks and Imperial subjects seem to allow a confident attribution for this bottle to the Palace workshops.

    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.


    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.


    JICSBS, Autumn 1988, front cover
    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 196
    H. Moss, "Mysteries of the Ancient Moon", JICSBS, p. 24, no. 18
    Orientations, June 2003, p. 10
    The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, Poly Art Museum, p. 78


    Christie's, New York, 1993
    Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
    Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, 1996-1997
    Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1997
    Naples Museum of Art, Florida, 2002
    Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, 2002
    National Museum of History, Taipei, 2002
    International Asian Art Fair, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, 2003
    Poly Art Museum, Beijing, 2003