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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 47 

Lot 47

 
   

Lot 47
Treasury 6, no. 1437

A gold and iron-red enamelled ‘carp’ snuff bottle

(‘Goldfish’)

Gold, on iron-red enamel on colourless glaze on porcelain and turquoise-blue, aubergine-purple, and black glaze on porcelain; one of two bottles, each moulded in the form of a fan-tailed goldfish; the exterior surfaces, including the lip, enamelled; the interior unglazed
Probably Jingdezhen, 1830–1920
Length: 9.05 cm
Mouth: 0.7 and 0.6 cm oval
Stopper: pearl; vinyl collar

Condition: small chip to front of dorsal fin repaired; tiny, practically invisible pinhole chip on underside tailfin; otherwise, kiln condition

Lot 47 Provenance:
Sotheby’s, London, 14 September 1976, lot 81
Drouot (Millon-Jutheau), Paris, 2 July 1984, lot 13
Belfort Collection

Published:
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 180
Treasury 6, no. 1437

Exhibited:
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore,
November 1994–February 1995

Lot 47 Commentary
This bottle is probably late-Qing and from Jingdezhen, since it is apparently of the highly refined porcelain typical of the area. Other than that, we are somewhat at a loss. For a discussion on the group as a whole, see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 243–246, where others are cited. Others in the same scheme of turquoise-blue and aubergine-purple are in the Cussons Collection (Chinese Snuff Bottles no. 5, p. 60, fig. 47); Christie’s, New York, 3 June 1993, lot 313 (a pair); Robert Kleiner & Co. Ltd. 1994, no. 72; Sotheby’s, New York, 6 April 1990, lot 24; Sotheby’s, New York, 22 November 1988, lot 264 (another version of the gold and iron-red fish), and Sotheby’s, New York, 15 September 1998, lot 148 (from the Hunter Collection). A rare, more realistic version painted directly onto the biscuit in black and washes of grey was in Christie’s, New York, 2 June 1994, lot 431.

The most popular subjects for the group are the squirrel-and-grapes combination, cabbage, lotus, and fan-tailed goldfish. The potting is unusually thin across the group, and the modelling exquisite, apparently the product of both moulding and carving. Even if the dates of the wares are unresolved, their quality is certainly not. Here, as is standard for the transparent glazes of the group, the colours are clear, vivid, and very glassy.

 

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Hugh Moss |