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AN EXQUISITE FAMILLE ROSE ENAMELED OCTAGONAL GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE
AN EXQUISITE FAMILLE ROSE ENAMELED OCTAGONAL GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE

Details
AN EXQUISITE FAMILLE ROSE ENAMELED OCTAGONAL GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE
IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, QIANLONG ENGRAVED AND ENAMEL-FILLED FOUR-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1750)

Of octagonal profile with a convex panel on each of the two main sides, painted in soft enamels with European subjects of a lady and a child in interior settings, two of the octagonal facets painted with ruby enamel with country houses in landscape, set between panels of formalized floral design, the neck encircled by a feathery floral scroll echoed on the two shoulder panels, stopper; together with a watercolor by Malcolm Golding, circa 1971
1 7/16 in. (3.68 cm.) high
Provenance
Liu Wen Choo
J. T. Tai
Hugh Moss
Literature
A. W. Bahr, Old Chinese Porcelain and Works of Art in China, p. 143, pl. CII
Hugh Moss, 'Magpie Mania', 600 Magazine, December 1970, p. 24
Gems. The British Lapidary Magazine, January-February 1972, p. 25
Connoisseur, January 1975, p. 42
JICSBS, December 1975, p. 9, nos. 32 and 34
Bob C. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff bottles, nos. 977 and 978
Hugh Moss, By Imperial Command. An Introduction to Ch'ing Imperial Painted Enamels, pl. 36
JICSBS, March 1978, p. 9, no. 21
Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, pp. 54 and 71, no. 23
JICSBS, March 1979, p. 28, figs. 7 and 8
Viviane Jutheau, Guide du Collectionneur de Tabatieres Chinoises, p. 76, no. 4
JICSBS, Summer 1982, p. 28, fig. 2
Christie's London, 15-16 June 1987, p. 155
Arts of Asia, September-October 1987, p. 147
Christie's International Magazine, September-October 1987, p. 7
100 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection, back cover and no. 18
Christie's London, 12 October 1987, a.m., p. 61 and p.m., p. 44
JICSBS, Autumn 1989, front cover
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J&J Collection, vol. 1, no. 185
JICSBS, Spring 1996, p. 11, fig. 25
Orientations, June 2003, p. 73
Oriental Art, Vol. XLIX no. 2, 2003, p. 65, fig. 12
The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, Poly Art Museum, Beijing, p. 71
Exhibited
Shanghai Royal Asiatic Society, November 1908
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., London, September 1974
Hong Kong Museum of Art, October-December 1978
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

Without question one of the masterpieces of Chinese enameling, this bottle exemplifies the softness and subtlety that can be achieved in the shading of the enamels on glass, which is rarely, if ever, matched on metal or porcelain.

Among the three media for enameling produced for the Palace - metal, ceramics and glass - glass examples are by far the rarest. In general (although not echoed in snuff bottles), the production of enameled porcelains in the South at Jingdezhen, was the most plentiful. At the Palace workshops, snuff bottles decorated with enamel on metal predominate, while glass examples are much rarer. The Court enamelers never wholly solved the technical problems associated with enamels on metal and glass, thus inhibiting production. The high rate of failure in enameling glass was likely to have reduced the glass output still further. Even successfully fired enamels on glass frequently exhibit pitting of certain colors, although this pitting can on occasion provide a distinctly positive and delightful texturing. On the present bottle, for example, the blue is speckled because it has taken unevenly to the surface, but it offers an added textural dimension that is very pleasing. This type of translucent, milky-white glass was frequently used as an alternative to opaque white glass within the Palace workshops and is ideally suited to the equally translucent enamels. The brilliant, opaque enamels used for the decorative panels and borders, particularly the yellow used to outline the central panels, serve as a counterpoint to the soft, translucent enamels used for the pictorial panels. The quality and style of this extraordinary example suggest a date from early in the reign.

The faceted form of the present bottle is well-known among wares produced at the Imperial workshops at Beijing. Faceted forms derive from European stylistic and technical influence during the early years of the Beijing Palace glassworks which were set up in 1696. At this time, the workshops were under the direction of the Jesuit missionary named Kilian Stumpf, and there is every reason to expect European influence in design as well as manufacture. Bohemian glass of the 17th and 18th centuries is well known for faceting, and similarities with early Palace workshop production suggest a clear connection. Another source of the form may be found in the European watches which had considerable influence on early Qing Court enameling.

Much of the glassware enameled in the Palace bear a so-called 'wheel-cut' mark that was apparently cut in with a spinning abrasive disk which limited the calligraphic grace of the writer. It is common on many of the very finest enameled wares of the Qianlong period and also on some of the best glass produced in the Palace. A very similar wheel-cut Qianlong four-character mark appears on a famous octagonal famille rose enameled glass brush pot, illustrated by H. Moss, By Imperial Command, Hong Kong, 1976, pl. 35. Like the present bottle, this brush pot is also painted with scenes of a European lady and child and is likely by the same hand.

Two Qianlong-marked enameled glass bottles of the same faceted form in the Palace Museum, Beijing, are illustrated in Snuff Bottles - The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2003, nos. 14 and 18. Like the present lot, the latter bottle, no. 18, is decorated with a beautiful young European lady and the narrow sides with similar decorative panels.
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