• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2026

    Important Chinese Snuff Bottles From The J&J Collection, Part V

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 21

    **AN ENAMELED PORCELAIN SNUFF BOTTLE

    IMPERIAL, JINGDEZHEN KILNS, DAOGUANG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON-RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1821-1850)

    Price Realised  

    **AN ENAMELED PORCELAIN SNUFF BOTTLE
    IMPERIAL, JINGDEZHEN KILNS, DAOGUANG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON-RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1821-1850)
    Of compressed form with convex lip and recessed, convex oval foot, painted in famille rose enamels with a continuous scene of Zhong Kui escorting his sister to her wedding, one main side decorated with a hero riding a horse in clouds, attended by a demon, approaching the gates of a mansion at which a scholar greets him respectfully, the other side with his sister in a wheeled sedan-chair, with an attached ornate umbrella, being pushed by another demon, while two more hold tasseled sticks, the base inscribed Daoguang nian zhi ('Made in the Daoguang period') in iron-red seal script, glass stopper and collar
    2 in. (5.79 cm.) high


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Zhong Kui was one of the most popular mythological subjects in China. According to legend, Zhong Kui traveled with Du Ping, a friend from his hometown, to take part in the Imperial examinations at the capital. Though Zhong achieved top honors in the exams, his title was stripped by the Emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken. Du Ping then buried him. After Zhong became king of ghosts in Hell, he repaid Du's kindness by giving him his younger sister's hand in marriage.

    His popularity can be traced to the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, where he is said to have appeared to the Emperor in a dream, promising to protect the Emperor from demons. Upon Zhong Kui's success, the Emperor ordered the famous painter, Wu Daozi, to paint his dream, and had the image of the demon-queller reproduced and distributed all over the realm to ward off evil spirits.

    Porcelain snuff bottles were often made in sets where the same subject was repeated ten or twenty times. Other sets seem to have consisted of bottles of the same shape, but with different decoration on each, which would explain the rarity of certain designs, including this one.

    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

    Sotheby's, London, 20 April 1982, lot 73
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.


    Literature

    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 217


    Exhibited

    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