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.