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AN OUTSTANDING INSIDE-PAINTED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
AN OUTSTANDING INSIDE-PAINTED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE

MA SHAOXUAN, BEIJING, CIRCA 1900-1915; THE BOTTLE, 1760-1915

Details
AN OUTSTANDING INSIDE-PAINTED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
MA SHAOXUAN, BEIJING, CIRCA 1900-1915; THE BOTTLE, 1760-1915
Of rounded-rectangular form with a concave lip and recessed foot, finely painted inside with a portrait bust on each side, one of Shi Xiaofu, the other of Wang Yaoqing, tourmaline stopper
2 5/8 in. (6.8 cm.) high
Provenance
Robert E. Kirchner
Hugh Moss
Literature
Bob C. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, nos. 849-850 JICSBS, June 1976, p. 23
Arts of Asia, September-October 1978, p. 62
JICSBS, December 1978, p. 14, figs. 52 and 53
Emily Byrne Curtis, Reflected Glory in a Bottle. Chinese Snuff Bottle Portraits, p. 87, fig. 119; p. 88, fig. 120
JICSBS, Autumn 1987, front cover
Gazeta de l'Antiquaire, June-July 1988, p. 7
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J & J Collection, vol. 2, no. 427
Exhibited
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., London, September 1974
Washington Convention, October 1975
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

Although unsigned, there is absolutely no doubt as to the artist of this superb double portrait in one of the more imposing crystal bottles of the genre - it has Ma Shaoxuan's signature in every nuance of style, technique and extraordinary sensitivity.

It is a unique combination of portraits for Ma, combining two Beijing opera stars, both famous tan actors, playing female roles, with the elder of the two, Shi Xiaofu, shown in winter clothing. According to E. Curtis (Reflected Glory in a Bottle), he was born around 1837 and retired from the stage and died around 1900. A native of Suzhou, Shi arrived in Beijing around 1850 and began his study of female roles (women having been forbidden to appear on stage since the time of the Qianlong Emperor. Later Shi became famous as a teacher, active in the administrative affairs of the Theatre Guild.

The younger figure in female clothing is Wang Yaoqing, who, according to Curtis (ibid.), was registered in 1904 by the Shengpingshu, the Imperial Household Bureau of Theatrical Entertainments. Wang had achieved great fame in the drama Silang Tanmu (Silang visits his mother). Despite the eleventh-century setting of the piece, Wang created a sensation by appearing in stylish Manchu lady's costume dating from the nineteenth century, establishing a standard style for the role thereafter.
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