The present bottle belongs to a group of carved lacquer bottles that appears to be Imperial and dates from the 18th century. The predominant color used on this group was cinnabar red, but occasionally green or black were used as contrasts. The subject matter, typically figures in a landscape where individuals are in particular groupings with specific attributes, is usually drawn from popular dramas, operas or novels, or from myths and legends. Typically, as seen here, the same figures appear in different scenes on either side. The shape of this bottle is standard for this group.
Two other comparable bottles from the J & J Collection are illustrated in Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J & J Collection, Vol. II, New York, 1993, pp. 527-30, nos. 310 and 311, the latter of which was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 25 April 2004, lot 815. Four further cinnabar lacquer bottles from this group carved with figural scenes are in the Qing Court Collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and are illustrated in Masterpieces of Snuff Bottles in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 1995, pp. 187- 90, nos. 192-95. Another is illustrated in Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol. 7, Part 1, Organic, Metal, Mixed Media, Hong Kong, 2009, pp. 175-82, no. 1538.