This delicately enamelled bottle is decorated on each side with two European ladies instead of the usual combination of a mother and boy typically seen on examples from the early Qianlong period. This suggests the bottle was likely to be made in the Palace enamel workshops during the latter part of the Qianlong period, during a time when Jesuit influence rapidly diminished at court, in conjunction with a decline in use of the Madonna-and-Child image. However this bottle, with its superb enameling, is undoubtedly one of the finest known examples made during this period, and is very rare with the ruby landscape panels on the narrow sides, features which are more commonly found on enamelled bottles from the earlier Qianlong reign, such as an example painted with a European mother and boy on both sides and two ruby landscape panels on the narrow sides, in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Hou Yi-Li, Lifting the Spirit and Body: The Art and Culture of Snuff Bottles, Taipei, 2012, no. II-011.
According to the archival records of the Imperial Household department, in Qianlong third year (1738), the Emperor gave praise to ‘snuff bottles enamelled with red landscapes’ and ordered more similar bottle to be made. Enamelled red landscape is undoubtedly a favoured subject for the Emperor. It is therefore highly likely that the current snuff dish was made by the palace workshops shortly following the Emperor’s request for bottles of similar design.