The decoration on this bottle shows the influence of Jesuit artists at the Chinese Court, who passed their skills on to the craftsmen employed at the Imperial workshops and drew up designs for enameled wares. The Jesuits also presented the emperor with French and Swiss enameled panels and other objects, which also inspired the court enamelers. During the Qianlong reign, European figures painted by Court artisans were fashionable, popular among them women with cherubic male children, as here, loosely clad in clothing with a mass of folds and painted in a palette featuring sapphire-blue, ruby-red and rich orange-yellow enamels, which replicates the French and Swiss enamels of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
An artistic device used by Palace enamelers throughout the Qianlong period was stippling, the gradation of shade or color by applying a mass of tiny dots. Technically, this allowed the painter to vary the intensity of color without having to constantly adjust the saturation of the enamel. The alternative was to dilute color intensity by means of washes. The present bottle is predominantly stippled to produce shading and volume.
See R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, no. 2, for another European subject Beijing enamel snuff bottle, with very similar treatment of the scrolls on the shoulders and also Western-style buildings in the background. Other comparable examples include one illustrated in Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, no. 18; and another in Masterpieces of Snuff Bottles of the Palace Museum, no. 19, which has similar scrolls on a brown background on the narrow sides.