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A FINE AND RARE ENGRAVED PORCELAIN SNUFF BOTTLE
A FINE AND RARE ENGRAVED PORCELAIN SNUFF BOTTLE

THE BOTTLE, PROBABLY JINGDEZHEN, 1890-1897; DECORATION, ZHOU HONGLAI, 1897

Details
A FINE AND RARE ENGRAVED PORCELAIN SNUFF BOTTLE
THE BOTTLE, PROBABLY JINGDEZHEN, 1890-1897; DECORATION, ZHOU HONGLAI, 1897
Of compressed pear shape tapering to a slightly flared neck, with a recessed, oval foot, finely engraved on one side with a country pavilion set behind a clump of tall bamboo in a rocky landscape with foliage beyond, the reverse engraved with the text of the Lanting Preface, by Wang Xizhi, the incising all filled with black pigment, stopper
2¾ in. (6.85 cm.) high
Provenance
Sotheby's New York, 17 September 1996, lot 224
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd., September 1996
Exhibited
Christie's Los Angeles, 2003

Lot Essay

For the text and a discussion of the Lanting Preface, see G. Tsang and H. Moss, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, no. 28.

Zhou Honglai was among the finest of the artists who specialized in micro-engraving at the end of the Qing dynasty. A native of Baimen (modern day Nanjing), Zhou was certainly a scholar and, like Ding Erzhong, practiced his art for a number of different patrons, as well as giving bottles as gifts. Zhou worked mostly on white glass, but occasionally on porcelain. For a porcelain bottle of similar form engraved by Zhou, see V. Jutheau, Guide du collectionneur de tabatieres chinoises, p. 95; also illustrated in G. Tsang and H. Moss, Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1978, no. 244. In Moss et. al., A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, his works are discussed under nos. 1049-1056, and his career, according to dated works, spanned the years from 1895 (A Congregation of Snuff Bottle Connoisseurs, The Tsui Museum of Art, no. 60) to 1909 (the porcelain example cited above).

According to the text on the present bottle, Ruichen was a friend of the Zhou family and it would appear that the bottle was engraved by Zhou Honglai for Xiao Xuan to present as a gift to Ruichen at the Quan Guesthouse.
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