• Sale 2026

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

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    AN INSIDE PAINTED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE

    BOTTLE: 1760-1880; DECORATION: WANG XISAN, ONE BOTTLE STUDIO, HENGSHUI CITY, DATED THE SPRING MONTH IN THE RENXU YEAR (1982), WITH SEALS WANG AND XISAN

    Price Realised  

    AN INSIDE PAINTED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
    BOTTLE: 1760-1880; DECORATION: WANG XISAN, ONE BOTTLE STUDIO, HENGSHUI CITY, DATED THE SPRING MONTH IN THE RENXU YEAR (1982), WITH SEALS WANG AND XISAN
    Of flattened form with flat lip and recessed, flat oval foot surrounded by a footrim, painted with ink and watercolors with a continuous scene of eight horses in a water-side landscape with pine and willow trees, inscribed in regular script with the title 'Eight Stallions', followed in draft script by 'Spring month in the year renxu, made at the One Bottle Studio by Wang Xisan, with seals Wang and Xisan, jadeite stopper with silver collar
    2 in. (5.52 cm.) high


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    Wang Xisan trained under Ye Bengqi, son of Ye Zhongsan, and began by using similar techniques, including the basic method of preparing a bottle for painting by shaking ball-bearings mixed with corundum powder and water in order to evenly abrade the interior and give the colors purchase. The painting would then have been done with bamboo pens, bent sharply at the end, the traditional tool for this art established in Beijing around 1800 and subsequently passed on through Zhou Leyuan, the Ye family and finally to Wang. The tiny brush hairs tied to the end of the bamboo pens were a development of the post-1960s Shandong school, adopted by Wang Xisan and his students thereafter.

    This bottle was commissioned for the J & J Collection, and completed in early 1982.

    The subject of eight horses is an immediate reference to the steeds of Mu Wang, the fifth king of the Zhou dynasty. With these eight horses, the king was driven the length and breadth of his kingdom. However, the painting is in fact copied from a famous handscroll by Castiglione, entitled One Hundred Horses. Each of the two groups of horses is copied from a different section of the handscroll and placed within Wang's own composition.

    Wang would have been familiar with Castiglione's work, for not only was the Jesuit a celebrated artist through the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns, but he also influenced the enameling workshops by providing designs and defining levels of technical and artistic competence. Since Wang also learned the art of enameling on glass from Ye Bengqi, whose own works of art closely followed the eighteenth-century Palace designs and enameling techniques, it is not surprising that Wang frequently turned to Castiglione's works as a source of inspiration.

    Provenance

    Bottle: Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Honolulu, 1981


    Literature

    100 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection, no. 62
    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 2, no. 450
    The Miniature World - An Exhibition of Snuff Bottles from The J & J Collection, p. 77


    Exhibited

    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