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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 75

    **A VERY RARE AND UNUSUAL INSCRIBED GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE

    IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER MARK IN RED ENAMEL AND OF THE PERIOD, 1767-1790

    Price Realised  

    **A VERY RARE AND UNUSUAL INSCRIBED GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE
    IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER MARK IN RED ENAMEL AND OF THE PERIOD, 1767-1790
    Of elongated ovoid form with flat lip and protruding, very slightly concave circular foot surrounded by a footrim, inscribed in black enamel regular script with two poems in vertical rows around the body of the bottle, each preceded by the seal Zhonghe ('Central Peace') and followed by two seals, Wu Yuchuan, and Shangao ('Mountain high') in iron-red seal-script, the foot inscribed Qianlong nianzhi ('Made in the Qianlong period') in iron-red regular script, glass stopper with vinyl collar
    2¼ in. (5.72 cm.) high


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    One of the poems may be translated as:

    Autumn blossoms and autumn thoughts, so blended in its fragrance
    That it would permeate my study, rich and fresh.
    Not from morning 'til night does its moistness disperse,
    It with its hue of dew or frost beneath a bamboo hedge.
    It is a bland flavor infused in wine,
    A scent of heavy rains that last until the Double Nine Festival,
    Of clouds more powerful with each passing day,
    Or of Peng Marsh when violently stirred up.

    The poem describes the scent of snuff, in all its variation and complexity.

    The second poem may be translated as:
    Caught up in details I arrogantly once kept to myself,
    But now I go along with things and take one wide view.
    Faint and indistinct, the sound of the tide rises,
    Cold, so cold, the sheen of moonlight chills.
    Moving to this village, my wine dipper smashed,
    When rocks emerge, you see me ply my fishing pole.
    Though this in no way compares with the age of Fu Xi,
    I still sing low of what is left of my dream of seagulls.

    The poem suggests a poet residing in a seaside village. The 'age of Fu Xi' refers to the primordial age when mankind had not yet consciously separated itself from nature and lived spontaneously in it. 'Dream of seagulls' refers to the life of a recluse, but in this case bears a direct link to the poet living by the seaside.

    It is extremely rare to find Wu Yuchuan bottles with only calligraphy and unusual to find them in such unworn condition. In the post-1760s a series of experimental enamelers seem to have been trained to provide the Court since its own internal capacity to produce enamels had been diminished by necessary budget cuts arising out of extended military campaigns in Turkestan and Burma which had depleted the treasury disastrously. Among these are two or three workshops, or individuals, producing wares for the Court and, occasionally, using either their own names, or invented names. There also appears to have been a group of bottles produced in large quantities for the Court at Yangzhou, with distinctively thin enamels. Among these various enamellers, Wu Yuchuan is one of the most prominent, and is convincingly placed at the Palace workshops (see H. Moss, "Mysteries of the Ancient Moon", JICSBS, Spring 2006, pp. 16-32).

    See lot 18 for another bottle bearing the artist's seals. It is perhaps significant that the seals that appear here, and on others of his works, include the Zhonghe and Shangao seals which so commonly appear on Imperial enameled porcelains decorated at the Court during the Qianlong period, and on other Imperial works of art of the reign. Apart from its rarity as an entirely calligraphic work by Wu, there is no other bottle known where all the seals are repeated for a second poetic inscription.

    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.


    Provenance

    Gerd Lester
    Pauline Lester
    Sotheby's, New York, 17 March 1997, lot 12
    Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd.


    Literature

    "Saleroom News", Arts of Asia, May-June 1997


    Exhibited

    Christie's, Los Angeles, 2003