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Details
A FINE CARVED CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
1760-1880
The well-hollowed body carved on either side with a bat, the wings of each outspread and meeting along then narrow sides, the lines separating the wings on either side extending down to the flattened base of the bottle and curling to suggest a yinyang motif, stopper
2 3/8 in. (6 cm.) high
Provenance
Carl Kempe Collection
Sotheby's New York, 22 November 1988, lot 126
Literature
JICSBS, Summer 1991, p. 9
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J&J Collection, vol. 1, no. 99
Exhibited
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 bottle belongs to a small group of crystal and nephrite bottles with a single bat or a pair of bats enveloping the entire bottle except for the neck. The subject is brilliantly conceived, creating both a symbolic and satisfying overall design. The bat was a symbol of happiness, and in its paired state, suggests double happiness. The folding of the wings at the base into a yin yang symbol reinforces the harmonious union. A virtually identical design can be seen on a spinach green nephrite bottle in the J & J Collection, illustrated in The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, vol. I, p. 102, no. 44. The bats on the jade example are more realistically rendered, however, while the bats on the present bottle are more distinctly linear. It is beautifully conceived along its narrow sides and particularly under the base, where the swirling edges of the bats' wings are formalized into cloud-like shapes.

The generous, bulbous form perfectly and very comfortably fills the hand. The interior surface has been intentionally roughened, perhaps to disguise any interior flaws and enhance the clarity of the design. The roughened interior would also hold traces of snuff more evenly over the interior surface even when the bottle is almost empty and provide a more consistent background for the linear design.
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