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A FINE AND RARE CARVED CAMEO AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE
A FINE AND RARE CARVED CAMEO AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE

OFFICIAL SCHOOL, 1740-1840

Details
A FINE AND RARE CARVED CAMEO AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE
OFFICIAL SCHOOL, 1740-1840
Of rounded-rectangular shape with concave lip and recessed oval foot, the well-hollowed pale grey and honey-toned stone ingeniously carved utilizing the white and golden brown markings with a continuous scene from the Chibi Fu ('Prose Poem on the Red Cliff') with Su Shi and his two companions, seated beneath the canopy of a boat and attended by two boat boys, passing under a large overhanging cliff, its summit hidden by clouds, the moon and a crane in flight in the distance, the reverse carved with rolling hills above the broad, arched white marking in the stone suggesting the flowing waters of the river below, stopper
2 3/8 in. (5.9 cm.) high
Provenance
Hugh Moss
Literature
100 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection no. 87 JICSBS, Autumn 1989, front cover
Arts of Asia, September-October 1987, p. 146
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J&J Collection, vol. 1, no. 148
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

This extraordinary bottle is a masterpiece of Qing hard-stone carving, combining an inspired use of the material and masterful control of the medium to illustrate one of the most enduring poems of Chinese culture, Chibi Fu ('Prose poem on the Red Cliff'). Shown here is the quintessential Song scholar Su Shi returning with his two companions from a second trip, when a crane flies beneath the moon and lets out a long cry, echoing Su Shi's scream of intense emotion while wandering alone in the cliffs. In his dream that night, Su Shi is visited by a Daoist Immortal who asks if he enjoyed his trip, and he realizes the Immortal was the same crane that echoed his cry.

The bottle bears certain features of the school attributed to Suzhou, but is not characteristically Suzhou. The serrated rock work is suggestive of the Suzhou style, but differs in being more evenly disposed and the lines being neatly incised with equally spaced small dots. It is stylistically related to another masterpiece in the J & J Collection, illustrated in The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, no. 143, with its inspired use of the stone's white marking and the stylistic references to the Suzhou school. Suzhou was one of the principal stone-carving centers in China, and there would have been a variety of associated styles produced in the different workshops of the town. It is quite possible this group may merely be an element of a much broader local style.
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