Although remarkably effective, white overlays on blue ground are, strangely, relatively rare.
For a slightly smaller example of more elongated pear shape, but with an opaque blue ground, see Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J & J Collection, Hong Kong 1993, vol.II, p.635, no.386. The authors note that:
"As a rule, overlay glass bottles consist of darker colours set against a light background, and this seems to have been standard from the earliest development of the art. It cannot have been long, however, before the possibilites of reversing the colours occurred to some glassmakers. Bottles with a light-coloured overlay are the exception, but when they occur, they are usually impressive, perhaps partly because they are unusual."
For another similar bottle from the J & J collection, see lot 12 from our New York sale, 30 March 2005 ; Sotheby's Hong Kong, The Collection of Arthur Gadsby, 2 May 1991, lot 17
The theme of the 'Three Friends of winter' which is represented here, first emerged in poetry of the Song dynasty and then in paintings. Each plant is symbolic in its own right. Bamboo is naturally flexible and is thus associated with immutability or humility. The pine represents longevity and the prunus perseverance. As they number three, the Three Friends are also equated to the three religions of China (Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism) or the three ideal qualities of a gentleman in their individual attributes.