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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 86

    **A VERY RARE BEIJING ENAMEL SNUFF BOTTLE

    IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER MARK IN BLUE ENAMEL AND OF THE PERIOD, 1736-1750

    Price Realised  

    **A VERY RARE BEIJING ENAMEL SNUFF BOTTLE
    IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER MARK IN BLUE ENAMEL AND OF THE PERIOD, 1736-1750
    Of compressed ovoid form with flat lip and slightly concave oval foot surrounded by a footrim, finely enameled on one main side with a lady and young boy in an interior setting with glimpses of gardens beyond, the lady reclining in an armchair while the young boy gazes up at her, the other main side with a young woman adding a flower to her elaborate coiffure while a young boy dressed in yellow looks on, the panels set in elaborate formalized floral borders, the neck with a band of floral scroll and the shoulders with a band of formalized pendent lingzhi heads, the base inscribed Qianlong nianzhi ('Made in the Qianlong period') in regular script, the exposed copper neck and footrim gilded, the bronze with gold stopper with integral finial and collar, decorated with a formalized floral design pierced through to reveal the interior and gilt, possibly original
    1 5/8 in. (4.13 cm.) high


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    One of the strengths of the J & J Collection is an important group of bottles decorated in delicate famille rose enamels produced by the Imperial ateliers established at the court in Beijing. By the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, between 1736 and the 1750s, the Palace enameling workshops had reached their peak in mastering the manufacture and painting of enamels on metal, porcelain and glass. A combination of intense Imperial interest, the fruits of the Kangxi and Yongzheng Emperors' contributions to enameling in the various media, and proliferation of both Court artists and Jesuit missionaries involved in designing and painting the wares, resulted in a short zenith for the art. The present example dates from the early Qianlong period.

    An artistic device used by Palace enamelers throughout the Qianlong period was stippling: the gradation of shade or color by applying a mass of tiny dots. Technically, this allowed for wide variation in intensity of color without constantly changing the saturation of the enamel. The alternative was to use different washes so that the intensity of the enamel was diluted. The present bottle is predominantly stippled to produce shading and chiaroscuro.

    However, what sets this bottle apart is the Chinese figure subjects painted entirely in the Western manner, which makes it rarer than the 'European subject' counterparts painted in the Palace workshops. The scene here is a generalized, ideal setting for wives and concubines, with the figures portrayed bringing up the children and filling their protected lives with divertissements of a refined nature, as was the norm for the influential minority of eighteenth-century China. See a Beijing enamel snuff bottle painted in a similar style, Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, no. 12, which has a similar motif of women with children.

    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

    Liu Wen Choo
    Lucille Parker
    Mr. and Mrs. Francis T. Keally
    Sotheby's, New York, 14-15 March 1979, lot 134 and color frontispiece
    Alex S. Cussons
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.


    Literature

    A.W. Bahr, Old Chinese Porcelain and Works of Art in China, p. 143, plate CII
    Sotheby's Newsletter, May-June 1979, p. 7
    Arts of Asia, July-August 1979, p. 106, lot 134
    Christie's, London, 15-16 June 1987, p. 155
    Christie's International Magazine, September-October 1987, p. 7
    Arts of Asia, September-October 1987, p. 147
    100 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection, back cover and no. 13
    J & J poster
    Christie's, London, 12 October 1987, a.m., p. 61 and p.m., p. 44
    JICSBS, Autumn 1989, front cover and p. 21, figs. 4 and 5
    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 174
    The Art of Chinese Snuff Bottle, Poly Art Museum, p. 63


    Exhibited

    Shanghai Royal Asiatic Society, 1908
    Christie's, London, October 1987
    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