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YIXING, 1780-1840

YIXING, 1780-1840
Of flattened form with flat lip and recessed, flat oval foot surrounded by a footrim, each side with a recessed panel decorated with slip, one side with a painted and carved slip design of two scholars seated in conversation on a stone bridge between two foliated rocky banks, the reverse undecorated, coral stopper with pearl finial and silver collar
2 in. (6.55 cm.) high
John Ford Associates, Inc., Baltimore, 1979
Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 254
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
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.

Lot Essay

Yixing in Jiangsu province gives its name to this distinctive stoneware. In production for nearly a thousand years in the same place, Yixing ware only came into artistic prominence in the later Ming dynasty, when it was adopted by the scholar class as a suitable material for teapots and thence for other items in the scholar's studio. Slip-decorated wares constitute a considerable portion of the known snuff-bottle output in this material. Slip is a liquid clay which can be applied like a thick paint, or can be used for gluing segments together.

The scene on this bottle is almost identical to one on another Yixing bottle sold at Sotheby's, London, 5 December 1983, lot 241, from the collection of the late Honor Smith, and the figures are depicted in a very similar fashion. The decoration on the bottle is by the same master slip-decorator who produced the spectacular and rare bottle also in the J & J Collection decorated with brown slip on a beige ground, which was made for the Court (see Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 255; later sold in these rooms, 30 March 2005, lot 78). The J & J Collection also includes two other bottles by the same hand, illustrated Moss, Graham, Tsang, ibid., nos. 252 and 253 (the latter was sold in these rooms, 29 March 2006, lot 22). For further examples of this artist's work, see R. Kleiner, Treasures from the Sanctum of Enlightened Respect, p. 198, no. 170, for a bottle in the Denis Low Collection; B. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, no. 324; R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles in the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, p. 367, no. 240; and An Imperial Qing Tradition, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collections of Humphrey K. F. Hui, p. 49, no. 45.

It is unusual that one main panel has been left undecorated. It may have been intended to be incised afterwards with an inscription, as was common during the mid- and late-nineteenth century, but it is perhaps more likely that the plain side was intended to serve as an integral snuff dish.

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