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A SUPERB BEIJING ENAMELED GOLD SNUFF BOTTLE
IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJIING, QIANLONG BLUE ENAMEL FOUR-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD(1736-1750)

The gold ground with formalized scrolling floral designs chased in relief surrounding two principal enamel foliate panels, one with a lady seated at a desk with three boys playing near an open window, the other with a similar scene of a lady standing on a terrace, beside two boys and a girl holding up a vase, one of the boys gazing up at a pair of bats in flight in the landscaped garden, the neck, shoulder and foot finely decorated with a millefleurs design, stopper
1 15/16 in. (4.9 cm.) high
Provenance
Hugh Moss
Literature
Arts of Asia, July-August 1986, p. 55
100 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J&J Collection, back cover and no. 16
JICSBS, Autumn 1989, front cover
Christie's International Magazine, September-October 1987, p. 7
Arts of Asia, September-October 1987, p. 147
Christie's London, 12 October 1987, a.m., p. 61 and p.m., p. 44
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J&J Collection, vol. 1, no. 169
Orientations, June 2003, p. 74
The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, Poly Art Museum, Beijing, p. 59
Oriental Art, Vol. XLIX, no. 2, 2003, p. 63, fig. 4
Exhibited
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., London, September 1974
Christie's London, October 1987
Christie's New York, 1993
Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
Museum fur 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

Lot Essay

Painted enamels on gold are extremely rare. With a normal painted enamel vessel, the entire metal body is covered with enamel decoration, exposing only the foot and mouth rims which are gilded. This bottle is made entirely of gold with chased designs in the metal forming an integral part of the decoration. These wares mostly come from the Beijing Palace workshops.

Compare with a few similar gold snuff bottles: the first also with extensive chased-gold work and an identical millefleurs design is in the Bloch Collection, illustrated by Robert Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, no. 3; the second with painted enamel panels in combination with cloisonne enamels on a solid-gold ground is illustrated by Hugh Moss, By Imperial Command. An Introduction to Ch'ing Painted Enamels, pl. 31; and two others, mis-catalogued as copper, are illustrated in Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, nos. 11 and 16. Two other bottles which may also be on gold with chased decoration surrounding similar panels are known, one illustrated by Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing and Lu Yanzhen, Qingdai Gongting Shenghuo. Life in the Forbidden City, p. 134; and the other in Zhongguo Biyanhu Zhenshang. Gems of Chinese Snuff Bottles, no. 379. The decoration on the present snuff bottle is also very similar to that on a cup and saucer set in the National Palace Museum, with chased floral motifs, identical painted millefleurs borders and very similar vignettes of European ladies with children, illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Enamel Ware in the National Palace Museum, no. 35.

The present snuff bottle is exquisitely made, with its relief chased motifs, striking millefleurs design and unusual brown enamel ground, complementing the two panels which are finely painted with the enamels delicately shaded. The idea of the panels set against a heavily decorated ground gives the impression of a window or shaped opening that frames a scene, a characteristic often seen in Chinese domestic and garden architecture. However, it is also possible that the original inspiration for this design on Beijing enamelware came from European watches collected at the Palace.
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